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Nat Geo’s famed ‘Afghan girl’ admitted in hospital

Zakhilwal disappointed over Sharbat Gula’s bail denial

AُT-PESHAWAR: Afghan national and National Geographic famous face Sharbat Gula was admitted in a hospital here on Wednesday.

Her application for release on bail was rejected by a Special Court at Peshawar today (Wednesday).

The rejection comes despite Pakistani’s interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Sunday that his country would review Gula’s case on the grounds that “she is a woman” and the government “should see it from a humanitarian angle”.

However, soon after rejection of her bail plea, Afghanistan’s Ambassador rushed to Peshawar and approached the high ups of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and others. On the approach of Afghan Ambassador, Ms Sharbat Gula was shifted into a hospital from Central Jail Peshawar.

“Now Ms Sharbat Gula is in hospital and under treatment of doctors,” Afghan Ambassador Dr Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal told a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. He said that Ms Gula is Hepatitis C patient, therefore, she deserve cure and proper look after. In this respect, Mr Zakhilwal has thanked the FIA and other Pakistani authorities.

Zakhilwal further said that in fact Ms Sharbat Gula is an innocent and illiterate woman and she is unaware of the complication pertained to getting of Pakistan’s National Identity Card (NID) through what Pakistani authorities alleges, fraudulent ways. However, he said that due to her appearance on National Geographic images, her acceptance as Pakistani National would be a matter of respect also for the host country.

The Afghan Ambassador said that arrests and detention of Afghan nationals under 14-Foreign Act is going from last several years. But Afghans are too much grieved over detention of Ms Sharbat Gullah who is not only a woman but also a patient and widow. He said that afghan government will continue assistance to her in a legal battle and hopeful of her release and disposal of the case as well in coming a few days.

In response to a question, Afghan ambassador said, “She didn’t but her image was a celebrity as she is innocent, illiterate and unaware like common Afghans.” Even he recalled that after 2002 when she was found by National Geographic team for second time, she had refused asylum and protection offered to her by a number of foreign countries including the United States, Germany and others. She at that time while declining asylum offers told, “She wants to stay in a Muslim country, therefore, she stays in Pakistan.

Dr Zakhilwal further said that she didn’t herself but her late husband had got Pakistani’s NID and later had purchased a simple home. She was residing in a one room house and even unaware of her own image’s scope and popularity. However, recently she had made mind for return to Afghanistan and had sold away the house, he remarked and added, “She was waiting for arrears of her home.”

Earlier today in a media statement, the Afghan ambassador said: “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.”

“If the federal government [of Pakistan] indeed wants to free Gula, then she needs not to be subjected to court appearances and rulings. She has been in prison and charges framed against her by a federal agency [FIA],” he added.

“It is within the authority of the federal government to withdraw those charges and let her walk free. It would certainly be the right thing to do.”

Furthermore, he said that Gula’s ID card was neither fake, not obtained fraudulently it was issued to her and her late husband as per normal process years ago.

“The Afghan government is ready to facilitate Gula and her children’s reparations back to Afghanistan with dignity,” he said.

Wafiullah, one of the lawyers who appeared before the Special court on Wednesday, said they are going to file an appeal before the superior court and hopeful of her release in couple of days. He said that under 14-foreign act, the court can order deportation of foreigners and there is no any clause for acquittal.

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