Pakistan cabinet led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday decided to allow about three million Afghan refugees to stay in the country till March next year, saying adequate and concrete steps would be taken for them.”Afghans are our brothers and very dear to us. Adequate and concrete steps will be ensured for facilitation of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan,” said an official statement of the cabinet meeting held in Islamabad.
The meeting approved to extend the stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan till March 31, 2017. Previously, the government had set a deadline of December 31 this year for their return. Of the three million refugees, about half are illegally living in Pakistan while others have legal status to stay.
Both the Afghan government and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had been pushing Pakistan to extend the deadline of sending Afghan refugees back as war-torn Afghanistan was not still ready to absorb the influx of refugees.
These refugees came in 1980s in Pakistan during Afghan war and most of them are still staying despite repeated warnings and deadlines by Pakistan to go back.