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Pakistan extends stay of Afghan refugees until March 2017

ISLAMABAD, September 09 (DNA): Pakistan on Friday decided to extend the stay of the registered Afghan refugees until March 2017, officials said.Pakistan hosts around three million Afghan refugees. Of these, 1.6 million are registered while the remaining are documented, according to the UN refugee agency.In June, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had extended the period of the Proof Registration (PoR) Cards till December 31, 2016. Registered Afghan refugees hold PoR cards that allow them to live legally in Pakistan.

“The Federal Cabinet while deliberating on agenda i.e. Extension of the Proof Registration (PoR) Cards and Tripartite Agreement in respect of Registered Afghan Refugees. The Cabinet approved the extension till 31st March 2017,” an official statement said.  An extension until December 31st 2017 was expected earlier.

The Prime Minister directed the Ministry of States & Frontier Regions to hold broad-based consultations with the national leaderships of main stream political parties and Afghan representatives for addressing the concerns of Afghan Refugees.

“We would not allow that Afghan Refugees living in Pakistan to be terrified in any way. They are our guests and their return plans would be decided in a way that does not create any negative impression in the minds of people living on both sides of the border”, further said the Prime Minister.

The decision could be a temporary sigh of relief for the panicky refugees following some arrests in Peshawar and parts of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa.

The UNHCR says security operations against undocumented Afghans, higher cash grant for voluntary repatriation has seen nearly 100,000 Afghans refugees return to their country so far this year. DNA

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