Expressing “utmost disappointment” at the rejection of bail of Nat Geo’s famed ‘Afghan Girl’ Sharbat Gula, the Afghan envoy to Pakistan has called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to intervene in the case for her release.
“It is with utmost disappointment that despite assurances given by the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and other government leaders the bail to free Sharbat Gula from incarceration in Peshawar was rejected today,” Dr Omer Zakhilwal said in a statement issued Wednesday.
He said the arrest of Gula, known for “one of the world’s most recognised and Afghanistan’s most beloved image”, had already hurt feelings of all Afghans, and today’s ruling was a further disregard to those feelings and the bilateral people-to-people relations and the “winning of hearts and minds” that the two countries claim to be important.
“At this stage I call on the honourable prime minister of Pakistan, to whom I will also send a formal request, to intervene in this case himself to instruct the release of Sharbat Gula,” the envoy said.
He said if the Pakistani government indeed wanted to free Gula, “as the interior minister publically said it did”, then Gula should not be subjected to court appearances and rulings.
He said the Afghan woman was arrested on charges laid against her by a federal agency hence the government has the authority to withdraw those charges and set her free because “it would certainly be the right thing to do”.
The envoy claimed that Gula’s CNIC was neither fake, not obtained fraudulently.
“Nadra had issued the ID to her and her late husband as per its normal process years ago.”
He said despite being world famous, Gula is a poor widow and the sole breadwinner of her family, comprising four children. She is suffering from hepatitis, which also claimed the lives of her husband and eldest daughter in the recent past, he said.
He said the Afghan government is ready to facilitate Gula as well as her children’s repatriation back to Afghanistan “with dignity”, and support her in resettling there.
Dr Zakhilwal said that just prior to her arrest, Gula had sold her small house in Peshawar and was “getting ready to return with her family back to Afghanistan anyway”.