An Afghan woman who was featured on a celebrated National Geographic magazine cover as a green-eyed 12-year-old girl in 1985, arrested by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday in Peshawar for possessing forged Pakistani identity documents, it has been reported.
Sharbat Gula was arrested from her home for alleged forgery of a Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC), the FIA sources said. Bibi had Pakistani and Afghan ID cards in her possession, and both ID cards have been recovered from her, the FIA sources said.
“FIA arrested Sharbat Gula, an Afghan woman, today for obtaining a fake ID card,” Shahid Ilyas, an official of the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA), told AFP.
Ilyas said that FIA is also seeking three NADRA officials who were found responsible for issuing Pakistan's national identity card to Gula, who have been at large since the fraud was detected.
He said that Gula faces seven to 14 years prison time and fine between $3,000 to $5,000 if convicted by court over fraud.
The haunting image of Sharbat Gula, taken in a Pakistan refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry, became the most famous cover image in the magazine's history.
After a 17-year search, McCurry tracked Sharbat Gula in 2002 to a remote Afghan village, where she was living married to a baker and the mother of three daughters.
Pakistani officials say that Gula applied for a Pakistani identity card in Peshawar in April 2014, using the name Sharbat Bibi.
She was one of thousands of Afghan refugees who managed to dodge Pakistan’s computerized system to get an identity card last year, officials had said.
Some 18 officials of the authority were under investigation for issuing ID cards to foreigners and eight were arrested, the official said.
More than 350,000 Afghan refugees have returned to their war-torn homeland from Pakistan this year, UN data shows, with the torrent of people crossing the border expected to continue.
Pakistan hosts 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, according to UNHCR figures from earlier this year, making it the third-largest refugee hosting nation in the world. A further one million unregistered refugees are estimated to be in the country.