Skip to main site content.
(SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)


‘Afghan Girl’ welcomed by Afghanistan’s president following her deportation from Pakistan

By WITW Staff on November 9, 2016

Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed “Afghan Girl” famously depicted on a magazine cover by National Geographic in 1985, has officially been welcomed back to Afghanistan by the country’s president, Ashraf Ghani. Gula had lived in Peshawar, Pakistan, for years with her husband, who died five years ago, and her children. She was arrested last month, allegedly for holding an illegal Pakistan ID, and sentenced to deportation.

The iconic photo of the then-unnamed Gula was featured on the cover of National Geographic in 1985, and for many became a symbol of Afghanistan’s struggle during the 1980s Soviet occupation.

For years, Pakistan had served as a refuge for approximately 2.5 million Afghan refugees, but Gula’s deportation comes amidst rising pressure for the refugees to be sent home. Amnesty International had denounced the decision to deport Gula as “emblematic of Pakistan’s cruel treatment of Afghan refugees,” but at a small ceremony attended by Gula and her children in Kabul, President Ghani told a different story.

“I welcome her back to the bosom of her motherland,” said Ghani. “I’ve said repeatedly, and I’d like to repeat it again, that our country is incomplete until we absorb all of our refugees.”

Wearing a blue burqa pulled back to show her face, Gula did not speak during the ceremony.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


School provides education to hundreds of Afghan girls, despite challenges

Gang rape survivor walks the runway at Pakistan’s fashion week

For many refugees, the vetting process to migrate to the U.S. is intolerably traumatic