Afghanistan’s ambassador to India Shaida Abdali said Sharbat Gula, of National Geographic “Afghan Girl” fame, will receive free-of-cost treatment in India. On Twitter, Abdali said she was “touched by Bengaluru-based Narayana hospital’s gesture to offer Sharbatgal free-of-cost treatment and hospitality.” Gula, an Afghan refugee, was deported from Pakistan after she was found with fraudulent identity documents. Gula’s lawyer said she was suffering from Hepatitis C.
On November 9, Gula was deported after she declined the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s offer to stop her deportation to Afghanistan from Pakistan on “humanitarian grounds and as a goodwill gesture”, Dawn reported. Gula was ordered to serve a 15-day prison sentence and to pay a fine of 1,10,000 Pakistani rupees.
Last week, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani personally welcomed her back to the country and offered her a furnished apartment. Ghani said, “The woman who stands next to me became an iconic figure representing Afghan deprivation, Afghan hope and Afghan aspirations. All of us are inspired by her courage and determination,” IANS reported.
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. Her image had quickly become symbolic of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
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.