Sept 9 (NIA) – Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, on Friday announced that his government had decided to extend the stay of Afghan refugees until March 2017, a government statement said.
The decision, which came at a Cabinet meeting held in capital Islamabad, will enable registered Afghan refugees to stay in Pakistan till the end of March.
According to the UNHCR, Pakistan hosts around three million Afghan refugees. Of these, 1.6 million are registered while the remaining are documented.
The government’s announcement came amid reports that Pakistani authorities have been forcing Afghans to go back home even before the expiration of the previous December 31 deadline. In June,
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that the refugees from Afghanistan could stay till the end of December.
“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,” the statement, quoting Sharif said.
Sharif also asked Pakistani officials to meet with representatives of Afghan refugees to address their concerns.
Representatives of the refugees had last month urged Sharif to allow them to stay in Pakistan till such time they can wrap up their businesses.
“What we want is extension our stay in Pakistan,” a refugee told reporters, adding the situation in Afghanistan was not suitable for their return.