Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech before the United National General Assembly this week, along with the related events that have followed, mark significant point in the 70 year old ongoing war of words (and weapons) between the two nuclear neighbours.

Even a cursory glance at the history and ambit of this conflict, over the past many decades, reveals a story of intrigue, conspiracy, proxy-wars, political haggling and military heroics, from both sides of the international border. Over the years, both countries have written their own account of the bilateral history; both have spun their personal stories of heroics and valour; both have reminded the world of the deceit being perpetrated by the other. Both have succeeded in convincing their own constituents, and none else. Both have lost much, and gained little.

Following a twisted an improbable road of bilateral warfare – one that started off with partition and the Kashmir war in the 1940s, graduated to the 1965 war a some years later, resulted in the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1970s, manifested in the Khalistan and Kashmir insurgency during the 1980s, became the Balochistan and Karachi upheavals in the 1990s – finally, we have landed in the debilitating clutches of War against Terror starting the 2000s; a war that threatens to permanently fracture this region’s peace and security.

In the circumstances, a dogmatic approach by either side, to deny all responsibility (past and present) for the deteriorating security situation, and instead point fingers at the other, is disingenuous at best and deceitful at worst. The truth is (in all likelihood) that both sides have used all the intelligence and proxy weapons in their arsenal to disrupt the peace and tranquility of the other.

But this game of Russian roulette, with a fully loaded revolver, has gone on for far too long. And it is time for the political leadership of both sides to break tradition with the past, setting sails for a peaceful (or at least tolerable) future.

In this regard, the Prime Minister’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly, which proposes four distinct peace-building measures, is a welcomed step.

Conspiracy theories aside, a bare reading of the proposed four steps reveal that these have palpable potential to normalise the escalating tensions on either side of the border. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as a start, has proposed that, “Pakistan and India formalise and respect the 2003 understanding for a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir.” This proposal, in effect, implies that neither side concedes the stance of the other, in terms of the “disputed territory” claim of the Indian or Pakistani held Kashmir – which can be determined at a later stage (through plebiscite or otherwise). For now, India and Pakistan simply vow to respect the existing Line of Control, which they already agreed upon in 2003, and ensure that neither side initiates sporadic (and meaningless?) aggression into the other’s territory. Now who could argue, on either side, that ceasefire is a bad idea?

Next, per the Prime Minister’s proposal, “Pakistan and India reaffirm that they will not resort to the use or the threat of use of force under any circumstances.” If there was one accord, above all – even more than importantly than a resolution of disputed territory issue or terrorism allegations – which two nuclear neighbours must agree to, it is that neither side will use or threaten to use force “under any circumstances”. And as a result, both sides vow to resolve all past, existing and future disputes, through dialogue (as opposed to using or threatening to use “force”). Anyone other than Lashkar-e-Taiba opposes this idea?

Third, Prime Minister’s proposal recommends that “steps be taken to demilitarise Kashmir.” It does not require an immediate withdrawal of all forces; just that “steps be taken” for de-militarisation. The way, for example, steps were taken for eventual demilitarisation of large parts of Europe after the Second World War, or for the demilitarisation of occupied territories in Palestine. Now this suggestion can be seen as a problem for the warmongers on either side. But, if there is one sure test for determining what steps should be taken for normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan, it is this: to take all measures that offend the warmongers on either side.

Finally, the Prime Minister has suggested that “an unconditional mutual withdrawal from Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground” must be done by both nations. This suggestion, which has not been made for the first time in the bilateral history of the two countries, has resulted in much hue and cry from the media across the border. Portions in the Indian media and government claim that the there is no military presence of Pakistan at Siachen glacier, and that Pakistan Army positions are all “west of the Saltoro Ridge”. As a result, the Indians claim, that a withdrawal from Siachen glacier entails a unilateral withdrawal of Indian forces. On the other hand, Pakistan claims that our forces hold key and strategic heights in Siachen, which are being bravely defended by our soldiers at the cost of much danger, even life (remember those martyred in the 2012 landslide?).

Factual controversy aside, can both sides agree that committing military resources and lives to the highest and one of the most dangerous battlegrounds of the world, should be avoided? And if so, is there no way for the representatives of both nations to sit down across a table, mark out the territory that they believe should see a withdrawal of forces, and then proceed accordingly with the same?

There seems little reason for the Indian government to oppose the four peace-building steps presented by the Pakistani Prime Minister. Other than, of course, to keep the hostilities alive, in an attempt to isolate Pakistan from the international community. That might work for India at present (as it worked against India during the Cold War days). But all it will do is keep the animosity alive for another generation, as it has for the past three.

The intelligence warfare – in which India blames Pakistan and the ISI for all kinds of violence in India, and similarly, Pakistan has presented its own dossier against RAW – may not see an end anytime soon. But even as intelligence rivalry continues, surely the political leadership from either side can take steps to normalise (and demilitarise) the human ties.

In recognition of the fact that peace is the only sustainable equilibrium for the 1.5 billion people of South Asia.