The Pakistani government has decided against deporting Sharbat Gula, of National Geographic "Afghan Girl" fame, as a gesture of goodwill towards Afghanistan and on humanitarian grounds, Dawn reported. An official from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa's home department announced the decision. She was reportedly arrested for possessing a fraudulent Computerised National Identity Card, and being in possession of both Pakistani and Afghan identity documents. Her bail application was rejected by a special immigration court on November 3.

Gula was ordered to serve a 15-day prison sentence, which she will complete on Wednesday, and to pay a fine of 1,10,000 Pakistani rupees. She was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, and was hospitalised while she was in police custody, according to her lawyer.

Pakistan has recently launched a drive against people with fraudulent identity cards. The country is currently home to an estimated three million Afghan refugees, most of whom are unregistered.

The woman's photograph, captured by Steve McCurry at the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Peshawar in 1984, won international acclaim and was compared to Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting. McCurry found her again in 2002. Her image had quickly become symbolic of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. After her arrest, McCurry had said on Instagram, "I am committed to doing anything and everything possible to provide legal and financial support for her and her family."