Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, participated in a virtual event titled “The Future of Kashmir & the Challenges of COVID-19,” 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 Ambassador drew the attention of the audience on the ongoing human rights situation in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJK) and underlined that Kashmir was the flashpoint which threatens the overall peace and security situation in South Asia, because of India’s aggressive behavior. He added that India 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,” the Ambassador highlighted.
The Ambassador also shared that the continued communication 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 in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, which is a matter of grave concern for Pakistan. He said that Kashmir 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,” he added.
Ambassador also briefed the audience on the Covid-19 situation in Pakistan and the measures taken by the Government to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. Ambassador Khan said that the Government’s imposition of smart lockdown and the efforts to implement the Standard Operating Procedures has resulted in an overall decline in the number of cases and deaths in Pakistan.
Availing this opportunity, the Ambassador also touched upon a number of other issues including the latest developments in Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relations, and the regional situation.
The discussion was attended by large number of students, faculty members and media representatives.