National Geographic's 'Afghan Girl' arrested for false papers in Pakistan

Sharbat Gula (Steve McCurry/Facebook)
Sharbat Gula (Steve McCurry/Facebook)

The woman who became the face of Afghanistan has been arrested for living in Pakistan under false papers.

Sharbat Gula rose to prominence when she was 12, after she appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic.

Photographer Steve McCurry took the picture of her in 1984, in a refugee camp in Pakistan. She became of symbol of the vicious conflict between Soviet forces and the Mujahideen during the Afghanistan War.

However, over the years resentment has grown in Pakistan at the amount of Afghani refugees in their country - often blamed for committing crime and terrorism.

"Two hours ago, I got word from a friend in Peshawar, Pakistan, that Sharbat Gula has been arrested. We are doing everything we can to get the facts by contacting our colleagues and friends in the area. I am committed to doing anything and everything possible to provide legal and financial support for her and her family," Mr McCurry said on Facebook.

In 2015, media in Pakistan published images of Ms Gula's computerised national identity card (CNIC) - a document she shouldn't have been able to obtain.

This week she was arrested by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency. Ms Gula could face up to 14 years in prison and a fine of up to $5000 if convicted.

It's an action that has drawn outrage around the world, and put the spotlight back on a woman whose suffering has defined Afghanistan for over a generation.

"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," Mr McCurry finished.