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Law And Order

Afghan woman from iconic National Geographic cover arrested

Sharbat Gula grabbed the world's attention in 1985, when a haunting portrait of the young Afghan girl appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine. Today, she's facing a fine and up to 14 years in jail after officials in Pakistan say she was arrested for carrying false identity papers.

Gula allegedly applied for an identity card in April 2014, using the name Sharbat Bibi, the BBC reports. The UN says there are 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and it's believed there are 1 million more who are not registered. Pakistani officials claim that thousands of Afghan refugees are in the country using false names in order to stay out of the computerized system, and they have discovered 60,675 fraudulent ID cards on non-nationals. Gula was arrested in Peshawar, near the border with Afghanistan.

Photographer Steve McCurry snapped the famous photo of Gula and her piercing green eyes in 1984, when she was 12 years old and living in a refugee camp in northwest Pakistan, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The National Geographic cover became iconic, and McCurry went on a 17-year search to find Gula, finally tracking her down in 2002 in a remote Afghan village, where she lived with her husband and three daughters. On his Instagram page, McCurry posted that he heard about Gula's arrest, and is "committed to doing anything and everything possible to provide legal and financial support for her and her family. 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."