Immortalised as the green-eyed “Afghan Girl” on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine, Sharbat Gula has reportedly been living in Pakistan with fake papers for at least the last year.
The haunting and widely recognised photograph of Gula at age 12 was taken by photographer Steve McCurry in the Nasir Bagh refugee camp near Peshawar, and became one of the most recognisable magazine covers in recent history.
After being photographed, Gula stayed out of the limelight for years, until she was rediscovered by McCurry in 2002. The photographer tracked her down and found her in a remote Afghan village living with her husband and her three daughters. He knew immediately when he met her that she was the same little girl, saying: “Her eyes are as haunting now as they were then.”
According to several news agencies, Sharbat Gula and two men claiming to be her sons received Computerised National Identity Cards in Peshawar in 2014. However, it has been alleged that these cards are fake, and that the four officers who issued them have been suspended.
According to Pakistani officials, Gula applied for the Pakistani identity card in Peshawar in April 2014 under the false name “Sharbat Bibi”, CNN-IBN reported. Gula produced documents that show her to have a husband named Rehmat Gul, and also show her to be the mother of two sons – Rauf Khan and Wali Khan. It was later discovered that the papers were forged, and that all three of them were Afghan nationals.
She is reportedly one of the thousands of Afghan refugees who managed to get around the authorities and secure a Pakistani identity card last year. According to officials, she went into hiding after the issue of her fake card surfaced.