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Pakistan deports ailing Nat Geo girl who's left for Afghanistan

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The decision of stopping her deportation was taken on Saturday by the provincial government on humanitarian grounds and as a goodwill gesture towards Afghanistan.

He said they kept the deportation of Sharbat Gula secret on the request of the Afghan government.The official said Sharbat Gula along with her four children - three daughters and a son - was brought to Torkham border at 2:15am.

President Ashraf Ghani said he would host a function in her honor upon her arrival in Kabul.

The case has drawn global criticism of the Pakistani authorities for their treatment of Ms Gula, 44, a widow with four children, and other Afghans whom Islamabad says will be expelled as illegal immigrants.

Speaking to AFP last week, Gula said she was "heartbroken" at the prospect of returning.

The Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal confirmed that Gula arrived to Kabul today, days after she was released from detention in Pakistan, allegedly for obtaining fake national identity card of Pakistan.

An Afghan woman immortalised on a National Geographic cover was deported by Pakistani officials early Wednesday to her war-torn homeland following a brief period of detention for using fraudulent identity papers.

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Over 350,000 Afghan refugees have returned to their war-torn homeland from Pakistan this year, United Nations data shows, with the torrent of people crossing the border expected to continue.

Around 3 million Afghans live in Pakistan, a lot of them as refugees who fled over the nearly 40 years of continuous conflict.

Sharbat Gula was living a miserable life as a refugee despite the fact that her picture on the cover of the National Geographic magazine had earned her global fame in 1985 when she was 12-year old living at the Nasir Bagh camp in Peshawar. It's not my fault that I born there (in Afghanistan). "I was sorry when I had to leave".

The image became a symbol of Afghanistan's suffering during the 1980s Soviet occupation and US-backed armed struggle against it.

Mr McCurry found her again in 2002, then in 2014, she went into hiding after authorities accused her of buying fake Pakistani documents.

He tracked her down 17 years after, living in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is trying to contain a violent Taliban insurgency and it is unclear whether the country can handle the return of so many people. "All of us are inspired by her courage and determination".

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