Court rejects bail plea of Nat Geo’s ‘Afghan Girl’ Sharbat Gula

PESHAWAR: A court in Peshawar on Wednesday rejected bail plea of Nat Geo’s famed ‘Afghan girl’ Sharbat Gula, who was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for illegally possessing a Pakistani computerised national identity card (CNIC).

The special judge, Immigration Farah Jamshed, had reserved the judgment on the bail petition for today after lawyers and public prosecutor arguments. During the hearing the petitioner’s lawyers Abdul Latif Afridi and Mubashar Nazar submitted before the court that the FIA arrested the Afghan woman when she was preparing to leave for homeland.

The lawyers submitted that there was no complaint against her about her illegal stay in Pakistan. They claimed the FIA raided her house and arrested her without fulfilling the legal procedure as there should be a complaint first in such cases.

The lawyers submitted that the government had already extended voluntary return of the Afghan refugees till October 31. They said the government had asked Afghan nationals to return Pakistani CNICs as they would not be charged for that.

They pointed out that the FIA raided and arrested her before the expiry date for the return of CNIC, which is against the government decision. The lawyers submitted that she was a Hepatitis-C patient, had suffered from high blood pressure problem and needed proper treatment.
Furthermore, the lawyers argued that she is a mother of four children and they depended on her as her husband had died some four years ago. The lawyers prayed the court to issue her release order on bail.

However, the public prosecutor opposed the release of the Afghan woman. He stated that she was charged with having Pakistani CNIC.

The haunting image of Sharbat Gula — taken at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Peshawar by photographer Steve McCurry in the 1984 when she was only 12 — became the most famous cover image in the National Geographic’s history.

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