Thursday August 22, 2019
Home World Afghanistan A...

Afghanistan Ambassador to Pakistan calls on PM Nawaz Sharif to free Nat Geo’s famed ‘Afghan Girl’ Sharbat Gula

The Nat Geo photographer who shot Sharbat Gula as a girl tracked her down in Pakistan refugee camps

0
//
Pakistan Custody
Pakistan's Inam Khan, owner of a book shop shows a copy of a magazine with the photograph of Afghan refugee woman Sharbat Gulla, from his rare collection in Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 26, 2016. VOA

Afganistan, Nov 2, 2016: Expressing disappointment at the rejection of bail to Nat Geo’s famed “Afghan Girl” Sharbat Gula, the Afghanistan ambassador to Pakistan on Wednesday called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to intervene in the case for her release, the media reported.

“It is with utmost disappointment that despite assurances given by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and other government leaders, the bail to free Sharbat Gula from incarceration in Peshawar was rejected today,” Dawn quoted Ambassador Omer Zakhilwal as saying.

NewsGram brings to you current foreign news from all over the world.

[bctt tweet=”Known as the “Afghan Girl”, the green-eyed Gula famously featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine .” username=””]

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 Wednesday’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 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”.

He said despite being famous across the world, 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.

NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.

The envoy 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.

Known as the “Afghan Girl”, the green-eyed Gula famously featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine and became a symbol of uncertain future of her country’s war-ravaged people when photographed as a young, teenaged girl.

Years later, the Nat Geo photographer who shot her as a girl tracked Gula down in Pakistan refugee camps. An unnamed celebrity for years, her striking eyes peered out from under a headscarf with a mixture of suffering and pain, and now determination. (IANS)

Next Story

Sri Lanka Commemorates 10 Years Since End of Civil War

Sri Lanka’s army chief Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake has said his troops will ensure that this year’s commemoration goes ahead peacefully

0
civil war
Sri Lankan soldiers secure the area around St. Anthony's Shrine, April 21, 2019, after a blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Still reeling from the Easter terror attacks, Sri Lanka commemorates this weekend 10 years since the end of a bloody civil war that killed at least 100,000 people, the scars of which are still not healed.

Security was tight in the north of the island, home to Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils, ahead of solemn ceremonies Saturday.

Sri Lanka’s government and top military brass were to have their own commemoration in Colombo Sunday.

On May 18, 2009, government forces brought their no-holds-barred military offensive to an end at a lagoon in the northern coastal district of Mullaittivu with the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the rebel Tamil Tigers.

civil war
FILE – People stand in front of a mural of Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran painted on a wall in Chennai, India, May 19, 2015. Across Chennai, large billboards with photographs of Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers, urge its people to “not forget” the day the insurgent group accepted defeat. VOA

Thousands missing

Sri Lanka’s then-president Mahinda Rajapakse declared an end to the 37-year separatist conflict — marked by massacres, suicide bombings and assassinations — between Tamil militants and the central government, which is dominated by the majority Sinhalese.

But for thousands of war widows and other victims on both sides, this marked the start of a new struggle: to find out the fate of their loved ones.

About 20,000 people are still missing, including 5,000 government troops.

Anandarasan Nagakanni, 61, is still searching for her son Arindavadas.

“He was last seen with the Sri Lankan army, and after that we haven’t seen him,” she told AFP at a tiny makeshift office in Mullaittivu, where a notice board was covered with dozens of photos of missing people.

Nagaraja Sureshamma, 65, who lost one son and is still looking for the other, recalled the horrors of the final months and how civilians scrambled to escape indiscriminate attacks and shelling.

“We were all going together, but my son happened to go on a different route. … Ever since, we have not been able to find him,” Sureshamma said.

“If they are not alive, then they need to tell us that at least,” said Mariasuresh Easwari, an activist trying to help find the missing.

“Did you murder them? Did you bury them? Tell us.”

civil war
FILE – A Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil woman supporting the Dead and Missing Person’s Parents Front holds a placard as police officers stand guard during a protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Aug. 30, 2013. VOA

Grieving banned

Sri Lankan forces have been accused of killing about 40,000 Tamil civilians in the final months of the war, a charge successive governments have denied.

Several mass graves containing skeletal remains have been found in the past two decades, but only a handful of those buried have ever been formally identified.

Until recently, even remembering the war dead was considered subversive and annual memorial services by Tamils were trashed by government forces.

Government forces have set up memorials in the north for fallen security forces and bulldozed Tiger cemeteries, obliterating any sign of the rebels who at their zenith controlled a third of Sri Lanka.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a recent report that the new government’s promised political reforms and accountability for wartime atrocities have failed to materialize.

“For many Sri Lankans living in the bitterly contested north and east, the war has never quite ended,” it said.

civil war
Sri Lankan security officers inspect vandalized shops owned by Muslims in Minuwangoda, a suburb of Colombo, May 14, 2019. VOA

Islamist terror

Although the pain for many families remains, and many in the 2.5-million-strong Tamil community still feel disadvantaged, the end of the war did open a peaceful new chapter in which Sri Lanka’s economy and tourism boomed.

But this peace was shattered April 21 when Islamist suicide bombers targeted three churches and three luxury hotels, killing 258 people, including 45 foreigners.

The attackers were homegrown extremists — the Islamic State group also claimed credit — and riots since saw dozens of homes, businesses and mosques of Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority vandalized. One man was killed by a mob wielding swords.

According to the ICG, the Easter attacks “compounded the general anxiety, tearing again at the social fabric, unleashing further violence and complicating the road to sustainable peace.”

Evoking memories of past dark times, a state of emergency has been in place since April 21 with the return of some wartime restrictions on free movement.

ALSO READ: Spike in Violent Attacks against India’s Muslim Minority Concern Rights Groups

Sri Lanka’s army chief Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake has said his troops will ensure that this year’s commemoration goes ahead peacefully.

“As much as we mourn the soldiers who were killed in the war, (minority Tamil) civilians also have a right to commemorate their war dead,” he said Thursday. (VOA)