The green-eyed Afghan girl, who shot to fame after National Geographic magazine published her photograph on the cover page of its June 1985 issue, has reportedly been arrested in Pakistan on Tuesday (25 October). She was accused of living with fake documents.
Sharbat Gula, in her 40s now, was being investigated over the past few years after Pakistani authorities found she was living in the country with an illegal identity card. She was arrested for forgery of a Computerised National Identity Card, according to media reports.
Three Pakistani officials were also suspended for allegedly issuing the card to her illegally.
It emerged in February 2015 that Gula had applied for Pakistani identity documents in the country’s north-western city of Peshawar in 2014 under the name Sharbat Bibi. She reportedly went into hiding when a probe was launched after the issue surfaced.
Authorities had said she was one of thousands of Afghan refugees who reportedly got their identity cards last year.
Gula rose to fame when her haunting close-up image was captured by photographer Steve McCurry and published in the National Geographic magazine. It became one of the most famous cover images in the publication’s history.
The photograph was taken at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Peshawar in 1984 and has since been likened with Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting for her intense stare at the camera with an expressionless face. It was thought to have highlighted the plight of refugees due to war.
Although her image became famous, Gula remained anonymous until the photographer began searching for her in the 1990s. After almost 17 years, McCurry found her and confirmed her identity using iris recognition. Gula had reportedly not seen her picture until 2002.
“Her eyes are as haunting now as they were then,” McCurry had said.