ISLAMABAD: The government will start documentation of nearly one million undocumented Afghan refugees, a federal minister said on Thursday.

Pakistan still hosts around three million Afghan refugees including 1.61 million registered, who hold Proof of Registration (PoR) cards to stay in Pakistan till December 31, 2017, according to the UN refugee agency. Besides, one million are unregistered and Pakistan want to keep their date where they live.

The minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), who also deals with the Afghan refugees, signed an agreement with the country’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

“The documentation process will be completed in 10 months,” the SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch told reporters after the signing of the agreement in Islamabad.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had earlier agreed on documentation of the unregistered Afghan nationals in Pakistan with the technical support from NADRA and verification by Afghan authorities. They had also formed a committee comprising three members from Afghanistan and three from Pakistan to work out the modalities for documentation of unregistered Afghans and subsequent issuance of necessary documents by government of Afghanistan.

However, the process had been delayed due to funding issues and tense relations between the two countries. Pakistani officials insisted that they consider the unregistered Afghans as illegal and sometimes they may face arrests because of having no documents.

Afghan government has been critical at the arrests and “maltreatment” with the refugees.

“The documentation will remove the complaints by the Afghan government,” the SAFRON minister said, adding that Afghan representatives would be part of the documentation campaign to verify the nationalities of the refugees.

Baloch urged the unregistered Afghans to avail this opportunity to avoid any police action against the illegal stay. NADRA will establish over 50 centers for documentation and one Afghan official will join Pakistanis in the centers to monitor the process.