PESHAWAR: The famous green-eyed “Afghan Girl” Sharbat Gula, who appeared on the cover of National Geographic Magazine in 1985, has finally secured asylum in Italy.
According to the French news agency AFP, Italian officials say that NGOs working in Afghanistan had requested the evacuation of Gula from Taliban-held areas. Officials say sheltering her is part of the program to relocate the ‘under threat’ Afghan nationals to safe locations after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
Sharbat Gula became famous in 1980s when American photographer Steve McCurry photographed her in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan. The photo appeared on the cover of National Geographic Magazine in 1985, making Gula the most famous Afghan refugee in the world. American photographer Steve McCurry rediscovered her in 2002 for more photographs.
Sharbat Bibi moved to Pakistan with her family during the 1984 Afghan war and took up residence in the Nasir Bagh refugee camp. She was among the millions of Afghan refugees who arrived in Pakistan due to the long standing conflict in Afghanistan. She was deported to Afghanistan in 2016 after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) found that she was residing in Pakistan on ‘fake identity’ card.
The FIA had arrested Sharbat Gula on charges of forging a Pakistani identity card. The investigation was started against her in 2014 but action was taken against her under Sections 410 and 420 of Pakistan Penal Code after the completion of investigation.
Because of her green eyes, Sharbat Bibi was documented by the National Geographic Channel in 2002, after which she got popularity as “Mona Lisa of the Afghan war”. In early September, Italy said it had evacuated 5,000 Afghans from the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.