Gharbat Gula was photographed when she was 12 by photographer Steve McCurry, in June 1984, in the refugee camp of Nasir Bagh in Pakistan during the insurrection against the Soviet invasion. Her portrait was featured on the cover of National Geographic in June 1985 because of her expressive face with green eyes. However, at that time, nobody knew the name of the girl.
The photographer spent 17 years searching for the girl. He took many trips to the region until, in January 2002, he found her. She was a 30 year old married woman with three children. Finally he discovered her name. Gharbat Gula returned to Afghanistan in 1992 where she lives in a remote village.
Nobody had ever taken a photo of her before McCurry and she did not know that her face had become famous. The woman's identity was confirmed at 99.9% through facial recognition technology used by the FBI and especially by the comparison of the two photographed irises.