PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has granted six months of “temporary” extension to the registered Afghan refugees whose legal stay in Pakistan expired in December 2015, sources said.

The order has facilitated more than 1.5 million refugees with Proof of Registration (PoR) cards as they can now stay till June 30.

The sources said that the prime minister had discretionary powers to grant extension to refugees for six months and the matter would be put up before the federal cabinet to legalise the extension in their stay.

The decision was taken two days ago, and the Ministry of State and Frontier Regions (Safron) has informed all relevant quarters, including home departments and police accordingly, said a federal ministry source.

“As the cabinet could not meet, the prime minister used his powers and gave temporary extension to PoR card holders up to June 30,” said the official. He said the cabinet would make a decision whether to extend the stay of registered refugees for a year or two.

The federal ministry had sent a summary to the prime minister in November 2015, seeking one-year extension for the registered refugees. Pakistan has been hosting millions of documented and undocumented Afghan nationals for the past 35 years and granting extension to the registered refugees since 2009.

The Afghan government, during a tripartite commission meeting held in Kabul in August 2015, had requested Islamabad to extend the stay till December 2018.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2016

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