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Pakistan extends Afghan refugees’ stay for 2 months

Pakistan extends Afghan refugees’ stay for 2 months

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Feb 01, 2018 - 08:13

PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): In an expected move, the government on Wednesday extended the stay of documented Afghan refugees in Pakistaninfo-icon for two months.

The decision came at a federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Pakistan has been home to a total of 2.5 million Afghans.

Earlier in the day, the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) recommended a five-month extension in the stay of Afghan refugees.

In its recommendation, the ministry said it was implausible to ask more than a million refugees to leave the country and return to their homeland, which does not have the capacity to absorb the returnees.

The legal refugee status of many Afghan residents in Pakistan expired on January 31. The cabinet took up the issue at its weekly meeting, as Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and spymaster Masoom Stanikzai arrived in Islamabad.

Proof of Registration' (PoR) cards for the Afghans have thus been extended for seven times. The previous extension, the shortest, was for a month only.

At least 1.38 million registered Afghan refugees are currently residing in Pakistan -- most of them for decades. This population is in addition to a million undocumented refugees.

The cabinet decision comes at a time when relations between the uneasy neighbours have hit a new low in the wake of the latest wave of attacks in Kabulinfo-icon. The Afghan government blames Pakistan-based militants for the assaults.

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