National Geographic's 'Afghan Girl' Welcomed Back By President Ghani

Afghanistan's Sharbat Gula has just returned to her home country after being convicted of possessing fake ID papers while living in Pakistan

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Whether you've seen her face online, in magazines or exhibitions, you'll be well-accustomed to Sharbat Gula – the green-eyed 'Afghan Girl' whose iconic look leapt from the cover of a 1985 copy of National Geographic.

At the time, photographer Steve McCurry's image of Gula symbolised a nation of citizens suffering from the Soviet–Afghan war between the US-backed mujahadeen insurgency and the Soviet Army and allied Afghan forces.

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Soon after her picture was taken, Gula sought refuge – like many Afghans at the time – in neighboring Pakistan, where she has been living – illegally – with her children and husband, who died five years ago.

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However, people around the world saw a different image of Gula yesterday, when she was deported from Pakistan after serving a 15-day prison sentence in hospital following her arrest last month for having fake ID papers – a conviction which also saw her being fined 110,000 rupees (£845).

Yesterday, Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, welcomed back Sharbat Gula and her children and said: 'Our country is incomplete until we absorb all of our refugees.'

His statement comes as Pakistan is currently under pressure to deport 2.5 million Afghan refugees due to crumbling relations with Afghanistan and India, despite Afghanistan facing Taliban insurgency.

According to Ghani, Gula and her family will be provided with a furnished apartment to make sure she 'lives with dignity and security in her homeland'.

However, with a history in Afghanistan that has seen the collapse of the Kabul government, the Islamist Taliban movement come to power and civil unrest, it's hard to believe Gula's return to her home country won't be one tinged with sadness and concern.

Ghani added: '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.'

We hope her courage supports her through this difficult time.

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