Indian forces claim to have killed five ‘militants’ in Occupied-Kashmir, after an exchange of fire. An armed resistance to illegal Indian rule in the area continues, despite Indian soldiers in their thousands using force, despite the introduction of laws that strip Kashmiris of their basic rights, despite the desperate attempts to stifle any Kashmiri voices being heard by the international community.

However, what has been India’s loss in Kashmir, has not been Pakistan’s gain. Dealing with a faltering economy, political instability and a plethora of security issues, Pakistan has struggled to translate its traditional and principled stand on the solution for Kashmir into tangible movement on the diplomatic front.

Confidence, which has never been very high between Islamabad and New Delhi, reached rock bottom with Mumbai. And following years have not helped, with Pakistan’s serious concerns about Indian involvement in Afghanistan and Balochistan going unaddressed.

With a change in government, came a change of attitude in Pakistan. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s overtures of friendship have gone not only unrewarded, but have at times been the recipient of open scorn by Indian politicians fighting to outdo each other in the run-up to elections.

The Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers must meet, sooner rather than later – and the agenda must be Kashmir. Even the Indian-installed Omar Abdullah, in recent days comments to public addresses, has been heard admitting that, “The leaders of the two countries should…resolve the Kashmir issue once for all.” This seeming concession will grate on the ears of Mr Abdullah’s political supporters in India, who continue to allege that India is “atoot ang”, not “an issue” that needs resolution.

Trade, security and people-to-people contacts may be the stated objectives of talks, but the time invested in building this confidence is to be eventually towards a permanent resolution of Kashmir, for the benefit of both countries.  If India will forego obstinate denial of the resistance and give the people of Kashmir a chance to determine their own fate, it will be no great kindness, but simply the fulfilment of a promise made by India’s own Prime Minister to the UN. Pakistan’s principled stand is in favour of a plebiscite. Whatever the outcome, Pakistan will accept it. Surely, India can be mature enough to do the same.