Pakistan has announced its willingness to stretch the stay of 1.45 million Afghan refugees by one more year.

The government said Wednesday it will extend the registration cards of the nearly 1.5 million Afghan refugees after a senior UN official appealed to the country to pause its deportation plan.

“The federal cabinet approved a one-year extension of the validity of POR (Proof of Registration) cards of 1.45 million Afghan refugees,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement at the end of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday

The office said the affected refugees’ PoR cards expired over a week ago, on June 30, but that extension has now been granted until June 30, 2025.

Afghans cherish their stay in Pakistan and are hurt when pushed out by their host country.

Quite a number of those asked to go are defiant, insisting they are not returning to Afghanistan.

The new lease of life for the Afghans in Pakistan is a product of a discussion on the status of the refugees between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the chief of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, who visited Pakistan days ago.

Pakistan has been a major host country for Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

There was a lull after a while, but a further influx started when the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan in August 2021, when an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 Afghans sought refuge in neighbouring Pakistan.

Troubled by the large number of refugees, Pakistan last year launched a repatriation programme to return millions of Afghans.

Government sources have it that Pakistan currently hosts nearly three million Afghans, out of whom almost 1.5 million hold a UNHCR Proof of Residence card and another 800,000 possess an Afghan Citizenship Card.

Pakistan grants 1.4m Afghan refugees one more year of stay

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