Government extends Afghan refugees' stay until early 2017

Published: September 9, 2016
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A file photo of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

A file photo of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Officials said on Friday that the government had decided to extend the stay of Afghan refugees until March, 2017

Pakistan hosts around three million Afghan refugees. Of these, 1.6 million are registered while the remaining are documented, according to the UNHCR. 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 legally reside in Pakistan.

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

The premier directed the Ministry of States & Frontier Regions to hold broad-based consultations with the national leaderships of mainstream political parties and Afghan representatives for addressing the concerns of Afghan refugees.

Afghan refugees leave Pakistan over tougher measures on visits home

“We would not allow that Afghan refugees living in Pakistan to be terrified in any way. They are our guests and their return 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,” PM Nawaz said.

The decision could be a temporary sigh of relief for panicky refugees following some arrests in Peshawar and parts of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). 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.

“The increase in the number of security operations against undocumented foreigners, including undocumented Afghans, has also impacted refugees’ decision-making, despite assurances from authorities that Proof of Registration card holders will not be subjected to arrest or deportation,” UNHCR-Pakistan Spokesperson Dunya Khan told The Express Tribune earlier this week. She added that there are challenges and that the refugees should take their own decisions.

To further facilitate the repatriation process, Khan said the UNHCR will be opening a new repatriation centre in Azakhel area of Peshawar shortly after Eidul Azha to support those Afghans who have decided to return home.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • M. Emad
    Sep 9, 2016 - 4:01PM

    Pakistan government should give citizenship to the Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Recommend

  • qaiser ahmed
    Sep 9, 2016 - 6:20PM

    Why? Afghanistan now has a stable government, and it is only right that all refugees should go back. Interestingly, though, the Afghan government stays silent on this issue.Recommend

  • Majeed khan
    Sep 9, 2016 - 8:07PM

    I am afghani . I completed the education of Fsc from peshawar in the year 2014 now i want to get admission in medical field . I submit forms for lahore medical colleges this year but no response come till . I belong to a very poor family . Kindly inform and increse our quotas. Dear Nawaz sharifRecommend

  • truthful
    Sep 10, 2016 - 12:15AM

    If the Pakistan Government restricts the extension any more until March 2017 , then I hope they facilitate to give them visa from Islamabad embassy as their per previous policy plus (identifying of the refugees with regarding the reason behind their stay),,,,,,,,As some refugees really need to stay for some period …ThanksRecommend

  • truthful
    Sep 10, 2016 - 12:18AM

    If Pakistan Government restrict the extension any more until March 2017 , then I hope they give visa from Islamabad embassy as their per previous policy for (a good identification of the refugees with regarding the reason behind their staying….as some refugees have to stay for some more time… Recommend

  • truthful
    Sep 10, 2016 - 12:21AM

    If the Pakistan Government restrict the extension any more until March 2017 , then I hope they give visa from Islamabad embassy as their pet previous policy for (a good identification of the refugees with regarding the reason behind their stay),,,,,,,,as some refugees have to stay for some more time… ThanksRecommend

  • Hakim Afghani
    Sep 10, 2016 - 12:42AM

    As an afghan i request Pakistani government to put pressure on Afghan citizens to wake them up and force them come back to their motherland… It’s enough to sleep in others house for years. Time to come back home and rebuild your nation!Recommend

  • Amjed
    Sep 15, 2016 - 6:57PM

    The Afghan refugees should must go back to their own country. I don’t know why our govt giving extension to Afghanis. Afghanis are criminal and non trusted people (Ihsan faramosh) nationRecommend

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