Kashmir is a flashpoint threatening peace and security in South Asia that underscores the needs for a lasting solution to the decades-old dispute based on the aspirations of Kashmiri people, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed Khan, told an academic meeting on Tuesday. He was participating in a webinar on “The Future of Kashmir & the Challenges of COVID-19,” which was organized by the School of International Service (SAIS), American University. The discussion was moderated by Professor Akbar S. Ahmed, the Ibn-Khaldun chair of Islamic Studies at American University.The Pakistani Ambassador drew the attention of the audience to the ongoing human rights situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK), and said New Delhi was using the Covid-19 situation to advance its agenda in Kashmir through repression and violence. “Over 8 million people in IOJK were living in an ‘open-air prison’ during a raging pandemic, and Indian Government through arbitrary arrests, disappearances, torture and the use of pellet guns continued to suppress the just struggle of Kashmiris for their right to self-determination,” Ambassador Khan highlighted.He also said that the continued India’s communications blackout for almost a year and the lack of access to medical and other essential supplies are further deteriorating the overall Covid-19 situation for the Kashmiris, adding that it was a matter of grave concern for Pakistan. Kashmir, he said, was a burden on the conscience of the international community and countries like United States must use their influence to push the Indian government to resolve this issue through dialogue and engagement.“Only, a lasting resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute as per the aspirations of the people of Kashmir will ensure peace and prosperity in the region,” the ambassador added.