Govt approves extension in 1.3 million Afghan refugees stay

ISLAMABAD  - The Government of Pakistan has allowed  1.304 million  afghan refugees to stay in the country till the end of ongoing year, as the Federal Cabinet has extended their Proof of Registration (PoR) cards/certificates till December 31, 2023.

The Federal Cabinet through circulation has granted extension in Proof of Registration (PoR) cards/certificates of Afghan refugees for six months from July 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023, official source told The Nation.

Sharing the details the source said that there are 1.304 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Their data is based on the Document Renewal, Information and Verification Exercise (DRIVE) of 2021-22. DRIVE also identified 145,716 unregistered members of registered families (UMRF). The exercise was undertaken with the support of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which recognizes above category as refugees. The registered Afghan refugees were issued Proof of Registration (PoR) cards and the unregistered members of their families were provided certificates for identification purpose for a period of two years.

The validity of the PoR cards/certificates expired on 30 June, 2023. Prior to the expiry of PoR cards/certificates, Ministry of States and Frontier Regions had submitted a case for the Cabinet for extension of PoR cards but it was returned by Cabinet Division with the remarks that it should be considered at the relevant forum, said the source.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Interior finalized illegal Foreigners Repatriation Plan aimed at deporting foreigners staying illegally in Pakistan. Regarding PoR card holders, the Plan stipulates a policy of voluntary repatriation in the last phase. The issue of PoR extension was discussed in the Afghanistan Central Asian Republics Inter-Ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC) which recommended extension in the validity period of POR cards.

The source said that AICC also asked Ministry of Interior to furnish its recommendation in the matter. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also recommended extension in the validity of PoR cards.

According the source, Military Operations Directorate has advised this Ministry to seek approval in extension validity in the PoR cards initially till 31-12-2023, Ministry of Interior has conveyed that PoRs may be extended for six months upto 31th December, 2023, the source said.

The Federal Cabinet has approved the extension in PoR card/certificate for six months. 

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