Steve McCurry, the man who took the iconic photograph of Sharbat Bibi or 'the Afghan girl,' who was arrested earlier this week, has strongly criticized the Pakistani government's actions, and urged the international community to speak out on her behalf and the millions of others who simply need a place to live without fear.
“I object to this action by the authorities in the strongest possible terms. She has suffered throughout her entire life, and her arrest is an egregious violation of her human rights.” McCurry wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
"In the past few hours, we have made contact with a prominent human rights attorney in Pakistan, who will take her case. We urge the international community to speak out on her behalf and the millions of others who simply need a place to live without fear," McCurry added Thursday.
Sharbat Gula was arrested from her home in Peshawar on Wednesday by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), for alleged forgery of a computerized National Idenity Card (CNIC), the Dawn newspaper reported. If she's convicted, she may go to prison for seven to 14 years, and be slapped with a fine of $3,000 to $5,000.
However, the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwalsaid that Pakistan assured to release Sharbat Gula soon.
“Our legal team in Peshawar continued to meet with the relevant legal departments in Peshawar today about Sharbatgula’s arrest case. A hearing has now been set by Peshawar court for next Tuesday (November 1) in which we expect Sharbatgula to be released.” Zakhilwal wrote on his Facebook page Friday.
Zakhilwal called Pakistan’s Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, regarding Sharbatgula and followed that with a formal letter.
“The arrest in Peshawar of Sharbatgula, one of the world’s most recognized and famous and Afghanistan’s most beloved image has deeply saddened all Afghans without exception and has hurt their emotions.” Zakhilwal noted.
“This certainly has not been in line, but in fact in complete contradiction, with efforts of Pakistan’s Government to ‘win hearts and minds’ in Afghanistan.”
“The offense with which Sharbatgula was charged was also clarified as unlike claimed by the police, the Pakistan ID card she was holding was not fake, and neither was it obtained fraudulently.” Zakhilwal added.