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PESHAWAR: A court in Peshawar has 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.

Sharbat Gula, who fled Afghanistan during Soviet occupation shot to fame after her photograph as a young refugee was published on the cover of National Geographic magazine back in 1985 on her arrival to Peshawar.

The FIA arrested her from Nauthia, Peshawar, on the charges of possessing fake Pakistani CNIC. The FIA was looking into the issuance of CNICs in her name and in the name of two Afghan men who were mentioned as her sons in the registration forms.

On October 20, the FIA registered an FIR against Sharbat Gula and three former employees of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) in the case involving wrongful issuance of CNICs to her and the two men who aren’t related to her.

As per the FIR, after completion of an inquiry and checking of record it was established that three employees of Nadra including Palwasha Afridi, Mohsin Ehsan and Emad fraudulently issued identity cards to the three Afghan nationals, including Sharbat Gula, Wali Khan and Rauf Khan. She now faces seven to 14 years prison and fine of $3,000 to $5,000 if convicted by the court in the fraud case.