The situation on the Line of Control (LoC) worsened on Wednesday, when Pakistan Army Captain Sarfaraz was martyred in the early hours of the day, by Indian artillery fire. The firing from across the border started at 45 minutes to midnight, and continued for three hours.

The tension has now lasted a fortnight, after India had claimed that terrorists had killed its troops on the LoC. Instead of scaling back its response to the efforts by Pakistan to demonstrate its peaceable intentions, India has now taken the matter to a new level.

The Indian establishment has been guilty of stirring up war hysteria, including attacks on the Pakistan High Commission and the New Delhi-Lahore bus, but the specious reasons India has been giving since August 6 for violating the ceasefire in place since 2003 have not ceased.

The latest Indian violation thus was not isolated, but part of a pattern, which was why it proved to be a focal point for Pakistani resentment, which found expression in the National Assembly resolution condemning the killing. It was also duly noted in the meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet on Thursday. The DCC meeting decided to revive the National Security Council, and make it responsible for handling the situation. The seriousness of the situation can be gauged from this alone, for political governments have hitherto avoided this. However, the DCC decided to talk to India, though all its previous efforts to do so had met with Indian rebuffs.

Though no one wants war, especially between two nuclear powers, Islamabad must decide on a threshold beyond which its patience will be exhausted in the one-sided quest for peace.

Perhaps the only sign in favour of peace is the sheer mindlessness of an Indian-imposed war, which would mean destruction for both nuclear neighbours.

India will find that Pakistanis may quail and hold differing opinions, but when faced with a common threat, they will put aside those differences and unite to face the common enemy.

Only a final settlement of the Kashmir issue would let the two countries establish an international border and lasting peace. The issue must be settled in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people, as determined in a UN-supervised plebiscite to be lasting. Avoiding the inevitable by India has led to the present confrontation. It must face facts.