Pakistan Deports ‘Afghan Monalisa’

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Islamabad:  The ailing ‘National Geographic girl’ Sharbat Gula was today deported by Pakistan, The News International reported.

The ‘Afghan Girl’, who became famous after a photograph of her graced the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985, is being deported for using fraudulent identity papers in Pakistan.

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“We have deported Sharbat Gula to Afghanistan. She crossed the border to Afghanistan at around 2:30am. She was also accompanied by her four children,” Asmatullah Wazir, an administration official in the border town of Torkham told.

Gula was accompanied by officials from the Afghan embassy, The News said. Her lawyers earlier pleaded with a Peshawar court for clemency, saying she suffers from Hepatitis C and is the sole breadwinner for her four children.

Afghan authorities recently reached out to India, informally asking if she could undergo treatment here for hepatitis C. While the Indian government is still waiting for a formal request, it’s unlikely she will be refused.

Yesterday, local media reported that Gula refused to stay in Pakistan, turning down the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government’s offer to help stop her deportation.

“We had taken steps to stop Sharbat Gula’s deporation but if she wants to leave, it is her decision”, a KP lawmaker told Dawn. “A delegation of KP assembly will meet Sharbat Gula on Tuesday to express good wishes,” he added.

“I had decided to live and die in Pakistan but they did the worst thing with me. It’s not my fault that I born there (in Afghanistan). I am dejected. I have no other option but to leave,” Gula told AFP last week.

She added said she first came to Pakistan four or five years after the Soviet invasion of 1979. Last month UNHCR said more than 350,000 Afghan refugees – both documented and undocumented – have left Pakistan so far in 2016, adding it expects a further 450,000 to do so by the year’s end, The News said.

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