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National Geographic’s Famed green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl’ Sharbat Gulla Still in Pakistan Custody

On Friday, Pakistani prosecutors said that Gulla was brought before a Peshawar court for the first time where she pleaded not guilty

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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
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  • Diplomatic and legal efforts are underway in Pakistan to secure an early release of 46-year-old Sharbat Gulla from the Pakistan custody
  • People caught with possessing illegal Pakistani nationality cards could face up to 14 years in prison and a financial penalty of up to $5,000 if convicted
  • Gulla resurfaced in Pakistan in 2014 but went into hiding to avoid arrest after local authorities accused her of buying a fake Pakistani identity card

October 28, 2016: Diplomatic and legal efforts are underway in Pakistan to secure an early release from police custody of a green-eyed Afghan woman whose photograph as a young refugee was published on the cover of National Geographic in 1985.

Police arrested 46-year old Sharbat Gulla this past Wednesday at her residence in the city of Peshawar on charges of fraudulently obtaining Pakistani national identity cards for her herself and her two sons.

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On Friday, Pakistani prosecutors said that Gulla was brought before a Peshawar court for the first time where she pleaded not guilty. But the court remanded her in judicial custody for further interrogation.

People caught with possessing illegal Pakistani nationality cards could face up to 14 years in prison and a financial penalty of up to $5,000 if convicted.

Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal, told VOA their legal team is in contact with relevant authorities and “we expect Sharbat Gulla to be released” when the court reconvenes on Tuesday (November 1).”

Rights activists outraged

Gulla’s arrest has outraged human rights and civil society activists in Pakistan while authorities in Afghanistan criticized it as part of an alleged ongoing harassment campaign trying to force Afghan refugees to leave the country.

Pakistani officials maintain that a nationwide crackdown on Afghan refugees with illegal national identity cards has led them to Gulla and other Afghans holding the documents. They say Pakistani officers involved in facilitating the Afghans get the cards have also been detained.

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Ambassador Zakhilwal says he spoke to Pakistani foreign policy advisor, Sartaj Aziz, on Friday to convey Kabul’s concerns and was able to receive assurances to get Gulla released as quickly as possible.

The Afghan envoy lamented that the arrest of “one of the world’s most recognized and famous and Afghanistan’s most beloved image has deeply saddened all Afghans without exception and has hurt their emotions.”

Gulla’s image published on the cover of National Geographic magazine 30 years ago won her international fame and symbolized the troubles facing Afghanistan under the occupation of invading Soviet forces at the time.

Steve McCurry, the war photographer who captured the image of his ‘Afghan Girl’ with piercing green eyes, found her in Afghanistan in 2002.

Hiding to avoid arrest

Gulla resurfaced in Pakistan in 2014 but went into hiding to avoid arrest after local authorities accused her of buying a fake Pakistani identity card.

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Top authorities, however, admit that with the help of “corrupt” officials working in the National Database and Registration Authority, tens of thousands of Afghans have obtained Pakistani nationality cards.

The crackdown on Afghans with illegal cards and officials involved in facilitating the process has intensified since May when fugitive chief of Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, was killed in a U.S. drone strike while he was travelling through Pakistan’s border province of Baluchistan with forged Pakistani travel documents. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)