Pakistan extends refugee status for Afghans by 6 months ahead of looming deadline

The Pakistani government says it has extended refugee status for over a million Afghans in the country by six months.

The government said in a statement released late Wednesday that refugee status had been set to expire on Dec. 30. The statement says there are 1.6 million registered and 1 million unregistered Afghans in Pakistan.

The Afghan population in Pakistan is a legacy of Afghanistan's repeated conflicts.

Many refugees can't fathom returning to Afghanistan any time soon, saying their homeland is still too violent and desperately poor.

The Islamabad government has said it will not forcibly evict Afghans. However, revoking their refugee status would encourage people to return.

Refugee status allows Afghans to get a government ID card that they use for everyday activities like banking or registering for school.