LAHORE - United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Afghanistan have signed an agreement for extending the stay of 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan till December 31, 2012. The agreement was signed in 19th meeting of the Tripartite Commission comprising Pakistan, UNHCR and Afghanistan at a local hotel on Friday. Federal Minister for State & Frontier Region (SAFRON) Najam-ud-Din Khan, UNHCR Country Head for Afghanistan Ewen McLeod and Afghanistan Minister for Refugees & Repatriation Engineer Abdul Rahim attended the meeting. Najam-ud-Din Khan, while briefing the media, said that as many as 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees would be facilitated for their voluntarily return to Afghanistan. He said earlier in 2003, an agreement had been signed with the Afghan government and the UNHCR for the return of refugees, which expired in December 2009. Following the current agreement, the refugees living in various parts of the country will gradually return to Afghanistan and US$ 100 per head will be given to them, while the Afghan government will also provide them with shelter and other facilities there, he said, adding that the Pakistani government was committed to provide continued protection to those refugees, who would not be able to return safely to Afghanistan according to the Pakistan strategy. He mentioned that three parties had reaffirmed the commitment to the return of Afghans on conditions of safety and dignity. Answering a question, the Federal Minister told the mediamen that the government had already started verification of the Afghans, who had got Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) issued by the NADRA, and so far 80,000 such cards had been cancelled. A committee has been constituted to expedite the process of repatriation of 500,000 refugees by the end of this year, he said. Earlier, during the meeting, chaired by Najam-ud-Din Khan, three stakeholders also took notice of Pakistans strategy for the management of the stay of refugees and all of them agreed to extend cooperation regarding visa and border management issues. Afghan Minister Engineer Abdul Rahim thanked the Pakistan Government for its hospitality to the refugees for a long time. The Afghan government is pleased to extend this agreement, which demonstrate the continued generosity of the government and people of Pakistan, he observed. The Afghan government will regularly apprise the parties on the efforts being made for the reintegration of the returnees to Afghanistan. The UNHCR head told that since March 2010, a total 36,000 and from 2002 as many as 3.6 million refugees had been repatriated to Afghanistan.