Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday proposed a new four-point peace initiative while addressing the UN General Assembly in New York. The points include expanding the UN military observer group in India and Pakistan to monitor the implementation of the 2003 ceasefire, steps to demilitarise Kashmir, an “unconditional mutual withdrawal” from Siachen, and proposed that Pakistan and India reaffirm that they will not resort to the threat of force under any circumstances.

Before discussing the very forthcoming stance of this peace initiative we must applaud the unprecedented shining moment that the premier is basking in right now. Lauded on social media as his most impressive statement yet, PM Nawaz Sharif has most certainly played his cards right with this speech and will put New Delhi in a dilemma. The proposals reflect a great eagerness to re-start bilateral negotiations with India. The Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesman Vikas Swarup immediately tweeted, “To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is”, indicating the outright rejection that India will have to carefully word to come out unscathed.

Nawaz Sharif spoke approvingly of the composite dialogue, which started in 1997 and that has been scrapped by the Modi government. With the composite dialogue, they agreed to talk everything together, not just Kashmir and terrorism but also trade and visas and prisoners. Amongst the achievements of the composite dialogue were the 2003 ceasefire, cross-LoC trade and travel, some easing of trade ties and a new visa agreement. If the Modi government does not approve of the composite dialogue format, it will have to propose something more agreeable as the ball is in its court as of now.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the speech was the way the Kashmir issue was highlighted. It is important to note that while he lamented that the UN Security Council resolutions have not been implemented in Kashmir, he did not demand their implementation, neither did he mention a plebiscite, nor did he ask for third-party intervention that India has so strictly prohibited. He simply stated the Kashmiri “struggle for self-determination” and only mentioned that consultations with Kashmiris are vital for the peace process. The well worded comparison of Kashmir and Palestinians shed light on the issue as one of religiosity but instead of demanding ‘liberation’ he demanded a peaceful solution to this pressing issue. At the end of the day, it all boils down to the demilitarization of Kashmir on both sides. Starting with a written ceasefire agreement seems much more doable and practical in current circumstances. It will be highly interesting to see Modi’s reaction to the speech as the ball is entirely in his court.