Pakistan's prime minister offered special praise Tuesday to Turkey's president and its people for hosting the largest refugee population in the world, while warning of worse refugee crises to come unless the world acts now.
"Pakistan was born out of the biggest refugee problem in the history of mankind," Imran Khan said on day two of the United Nations' Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, co-chaired by Turkey.
"I am very proud to say that Pakistan hosted at one point 4 million refugees. And still, after 40 years, Pakistan still has 1.4 million registered refugees."
He added that on Aug. 5, "Indian forces laid siege to the people of Kashmir,” with 8 million Kashmiris "been literally shut inside," thereby triggering a "new crisis."
He warned: "The most important thing the world needs to understand is that the professed aim is to change the demography of Kashmir from a Muslim majority to a Muslim minority."
Ties between the two nuclear rivals plummeted to a new low following India’s Aug. 5 move scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, part of the Kashmir region, which is divided between the two neighbors in parts with both claiming it in full.
Many fear the step is an attempt to change the demography of the Muslim-majority state.
Since partition in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
The Dec. 16-18 Geneva forum is hosted by Switzerland, with Turkey co-chairing, along with Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Germany, and Pakistan.
Kahn appealed to the world community to take notice, also stating that a new citizenship law in India discriminates against Muslims.
"We in Pakistan are not just worried that there'll be a refugee crisis. We are worried that this could lead to a conflict, a conflict between two nuclear-armed countries," said Khan.
Also speaking at the forum, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the apparent refugee crisis is in fact a sign of a deeper, wider problem.
"The number of refugees around the world is, in reality, only the symptom of a very different crisis, a far-reaching crisis of international cooperation."
Maas said: "An increasing number of people are fleeing and becoming refugees because we, the international community, are failing to find solutions to the protracted crises and conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia."
He said the world must distribute the burden more, and must offer refugees prospects for living a life of self-determination and dignity.
Maas said Germany would continue to support such aims in its dual role as the second biggest donor and the fifth-largest host country for refugees.
"Just 20% of the world's 193 states are in any way meaningfully involved in helping the over 70 million displaced persons globally -- this even though the Geneva Refugee Convention applies to all of us," he said.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.