An Afghan woman immortalised on a celebrated National Geographic magazine cover as a green-eyed 12-year-old girl was arrested today for living in Pakistan on fraudulent identity papers.

The haunting image of Sharbat Gula, taken in a Pakistan refugee camp by photographer Steve McCurry, became the most famous cover image in the magazine's history. Remember her?

Source: National Geographic

Gula now faces seven to 14 years prison time and fine between $3,000 to $5,000 if convicted by court over fraud.

Gula was arrested by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for fraud following a two-year-long investigation in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, the capital of restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

FIA is also seeking three NADRA officials who were found responsible for issuing Pakistan's national identity card to Gula, who have been at large since the fraud was detected.

Pakistani officials say that Gula applied for a Pakistani identity card in Peshawar in April 2014, using the name Sharbat Bibi. She was one of thousands of Afghan refugees who managed to dodge Pakistan's computerised system and to get an identity card.

The original image of Gula was taken in 1984 in a refugee camp in northwest Pakistan at the time of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

McCurry later tracked her down, after a 17-year search, to a remote Afghan village in 2002 where she was married to a baker and the mother of three daughters. Pakistan has launched a crackdown against those who have obtained fake ID cards fraudulently and launched a re-verification campaign across the country.

Officials say NADRA has so far re-verified 91 million ID cards and detected 60,675 cards by non nationals fraudulently.

Afghan refugees in Pakistan/Source: Reuters

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

Pakistan has for decades provided safe haven for millions of Afghans who fled their country after the Soviet invasion of 1979.

Pakistan hosts 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, according to UNHCR figures from earlier this year, making it the third-largest refugee hosting nation in the world. A further one million unregistered refugees are estimated to be in the country.