Against the backdrop of blames being freely traded between Pakistan and India for repeated shooting incidents across of the Line of Control in Kashmir and flared-up sentiments, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spent quite a while at his joint press conference with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to underline the need for diffusion of tension and resolution of the Kashmir dispute. SG Ban was a special guest at the ceremony held earlier in the day to mark the 66thindependence anniversary of Pakistan and during the course of his stay here he held extensive talks with PM Sharif.

Mian Nawaz stated the obvious, but cruel, reality that Kashmir was the longest unresolved issue lying with the UN and reminded the SG that Islamabad sought its peaceful settlement in accordance with the UN resolutions. About the same time came an anguished cry for help from the beleaguered All Parties Hurriyet Conference leadership, from inside the Indian occupied part of the state, to the SG to intercede in the resolution of the dispute on the same lines and urged him to take concrete steps in this behalf.

In the meantime, the Kashmiris, running a hard and arduous struggle to free themselves from the Indian servitude, observed a Black Day on Thursday, India’s Republic (Independence) Day. Markets were shut as a mark of protest against New Delhi’s illegal hold on their homeland.

Showing political maturity, Mian Nawaz continued to respond with restraint, indicating readiness for talks. On the other hand, the Indian leadership stuck to their standard ploy of raising frivolous and unnecessary issues to stonewall the prospects of talks: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heaped the entire blame on Pakistan for the ongoing ugly situation, while External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid talked of "delivery on 26/11 before talks" and refused to commit to an Indian television interviewer whether the two PMs would meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. Parleys at a lower level may take place or there will be a suspension of talks – all this to keep the pot of tension and uncertainty boiling and demonstrate New Delhi’s upper hand in the conduct of relations with Islamabad.

The scenario calls for influential international players to come into the picture and convince India of the sensitivity of keeping up tension between two nuclear-power states. Side by side, Pakistan needs to put its own house in order, getting rid of terrorism and raising its economic and political stature in the world.