If the All Parties Conference on Kashmir was a unified show of force, the joint parliamentary session was more of the usual melee - albeit a more useful one. The parties argued, raised slogans, traded allegations and insults and threatened to walk out, but in between the ruckus a significant and illuminating debate was held.

The most important, and unprecedented, aspect of the session was the blunt introspection with which Pakistan’s internal stance and practices on Kashmir were deconstructed. Unity when facing external threats, diligence at home – how it is supposed to be.

Just like in neighbouring India, Kashmir is a sensitive issue; which makes most politicians toe the official line. However, inside the halls of the parliament, many probing questions were raised – questions that needed to be raised.

The most important questions asked of the government – and through them of the military – is the continued prevalence of banned militant groups in Pakistan, especially the jihadi outfits who purport to target India. Banned groups like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operate freely in major cities under barely disguised pseudonyms, holding rallies, canvassing support and gathering funds. It was rightly pointed out that they may not be actively supported by the state, but their existence makes it easy for India to point the finger at Pakistan. The Parliament was clear; prosecute all banned groups or face isolation.

The Prime Minister’s show at the United Nations General Assembly also came under the microscope. Nawaz Sharif may have made Kashmir the centrepiece of his speech, but not many were impressed by his performance. Perhaps it is down to the dour, uncharismatic outlook of the Prime Minister, but his speeches failed to make the impact on the international community the way they should have considering the scale of Indian oppression in the province.

The parliamentarians may have a point there; in comparison to Narendra Modi’s globetrotting, media-savvy ways, Nawaz Sharif appears out of his depth.

His government’s handling of the captured Indian colonel in Balochistan was also questioned, and rightly so. India raised a massive hue and cry over “surgical strikes” that never even happened, and have generally been winning the narrative battle against Pakistan. Subversion is a two-way street between the neighbours’, but a disjointed policy makes it seem all Pakistan’s doing at the international stage.

Perhaps the source of this failure was identified by the parliament too. The absence of a dedicated Foreign Minister in the Cabinet, and the resulting disjointed, headless performance of the Foreign Office makes diplomacy so much more difficult.