ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and India have opened back-channel contacts to defuse the tension after the Uri attack that left 19 Indian soldiers dead, The Nation has learnt.

The development comes as the two nations are engaged in a war of words amid speculations that the militaries of the two nuclear armed neighbours were on high alert.

A senior official at the foreign ministry said the back-channel diplomacy was always working and “these days we are working more energetically to improve ties.”

The Pak-India tension is also threatening the significance of the upcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saaec) summit as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to confirm his participation.

There are reports that Modi may not attend the November summit, but the Indian government has kept the suspense alive by not announcing any decision.

The official at the foreign ministry said doves on both the sides were active to stop the tension from turning into a military exchange.

“Apart from some hawkish elements, there is a general consensus that war is not an option and the issues must be settled through talks. There are efforts for revival of the dialogue process,” he said.

Earlier, Pakistan handed over dossiers of Indian state atrocities to UN Chief Ban Ki-moon. Sharif showed to the UN Secretary General the pictures of innocent and defenceless people of Held Kashmir who have been victimised through brutal use of force and atrocities at the state level.

The PM also informed Ban Ki-moon of the gross human rights violations being committed by India that have resulted in over 100 deaths and injuries to thousands during the last 77 days in Kashmir.

There are also reports that India stepped up to war stage and moved heavy and medium-scale, ground-based ordnance to front trenches yesterday along the Line of Control.

The movement of arms to the LoC started after Prime Minister Modi chaired a meeting in the war room in New Delhi, which was attended by chiefs of all the three armed forces.

Indian Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Chief of Naval Staff Sunil Lamba and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval briefed the premier on potential targets.

Former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, Senator Sherry Rehman, said Pakistan had many tools and many options to respond to India. “There is absolutely no need to panic about potential Indian aggression, but the tools of smart diplomacy are not being utilised by the government,” she said.

The lawmaker said Washington was a key capital for setting global narratives, but both its Pakistani community and professional lobbyists were ignored, let alone deployed as an instrument of state power.

“I am quite disappointed with the foreign policy tool kit that Islamabad is lumbering on as if this is the middle of the 20th century and not a world where multiple centres of power have bearing on global trend lines,” she remarked.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, claimed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had offered his good offices for mediation between Pakistan and India. She said the UN Secretary General was saddened by seeing the images of the victims of the Indian brutalities in Kashmir.

Maleeha Lodhi said the international community had taken notice of the grave human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir, and in the next phase, the UN Security Council permanent members would be contacted for sharing the evidence on Kashmir with them.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz who is with Nawaz Sharif in New York said Pakistan was ready for unconditional talks with India to resolve all issues, including the core issue of Kashmir.

He, however, said any talks between the two countries could not succeed until solution to the Kashmir problem. The adviser said international pressure was now mounting on India.

Former ambassador Mushtaq Ahmed Maher said good ties with Russia would pressurise India. “Both the counties are going to launch new era of bilateral relations, particularly in defence sector. Moscow is keen to provide security assistance to regional countries,” he said.

Maher said: “China is emerging as new economic power while Russia has already a strong position in the region. Russia has a strong influence in the regional affairs and “we need to promote our relations with Russia, especially in socio-political, economic and defence sector.”

Leader of Opposition in National Assembly Khurshid Shah warned Pak-India war could become the third world war if India moved ahead with coercive plans against Pakistan. Citing Modi’s meeting in the war room in New Delhi, Shah said not even 10 powers like India in terms of military, economy and standing could pose a threat to Pakistan.

Separately, the Foreign Office, in a statement over Indian occupation of Kashmir Valley, said no criticism of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech in United Nations General Assembly could change the historical facts about Kashmir.

The foreign powers could not ignore the dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, he said. Free, just and unbiased referendum was the right of Kashmiris, he added.

Zakaria said the people of Kashmir had not halted their struggle for freedom even after seven decades of victimization by Indian forces and tenures of different governments.

About the recent killing of freedom fighter Burhan Wani, the spokesman said, Kashmiris carried out a peaceful protest which Indian forces tried to suppress with force and coercive methods.

The Foreign Office reiterated Pakistan stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Kashmir in their struggle for freedom from the occupying troops.