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Pakistan Court rejects Bail of National Geographic's Afghan Girl Sharbat Gulla

Pakistan Court rejects Bail of National Geographic's Afghan Girl Sharbat Gullaā€¯

The image of Gula, captured by photographer Steve McCurry in 1984, has since become one of the most recognisable photographs in the world after it was used to highlight the Afghanistan refugee crisis in the June 1985 issue of the magazine.

Human Rights Watch said since July 1, Pakistan has repatriated 370,000 Afghans, almost 220,000 of them registered refugees.

Now, believed to be in her forties, she is languishing in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency after being arrested on 26 October in Peshawar.

Pakistan has recently cracked down on nonregistered Afghan refugees living in the country.

She surfaced in Pakistan in 2014, but had gone into hiding after authorities accused her of buying a fake Pakistani identity card.

The agency also estimates a further one million unregistered refugees staying in the country.Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had on Sunday indicated that Gula may be released on humanitarian grounds.

Meanwhile, expressing "utmost disappointment" at the rejection of bail, the Afghan envoy to Pakistan has called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to intervene in the case for her release.

During the last Friday's court hearing, a prosecutor, Manzoor Aalam said Gula retracted the confession that investigators say she made after her arrest. "It carries a 14-year-term in jail and on top of that a heavy fine", our correspondent said. He said she had sold her house and was making arrangements for returning to Afghanistan.He said the U.S. and a number of European countries had offered citizenship to Sharbat Gula but she preferred to live in Pakistan.

Gula has been receiving help from afar from photographer Mr McCurry, who said he would provide her and her family with legal and financial support. "She is sick, suffering from hepatitis which claimed the lives of her husband and elder daughter in recent past", the envoy said.

"As a widow, she has endeavored to raise her four children alone".

He said that they were expecting that Sharbat Gula would be released to pass on a positive message to the World; however, it did not happen.



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