If social media and media statements by foreign offices are any measure of public opinion, it would appear war with India is a real possibility despite calls for de-escalation.

Initial responses from Pakistan have been comparatively measured, but General Raheel Sharif’s latest statement about countering “the full threat spectrum” is indicative of a battle-ready mindset the country cannot ignore. At this time, it is important to take a step back and realise that war is not an option. Not because we cannot compete with India, which we can, but because a nuclear war is not a possibility, and a conventional war will paint Pakistan in an even more negative light than it currently stands in.

Geographical proximity alone dismisses the option of nuclear war, despite the war bravado and hype. If war does take place, chances are it will be a Kargil-like scenario – an area-specific conflict.

Let’s go back to Kargil for a moment. In 1998, the Sharif-Vajpayee governments were coming closer to positive ties and the war was not a political, but a military engagement. At this time however, in rather unprecedented unison, the government and military are on roughly the same page. But Pakistan has no reason to cross the LoC first. If it does, it becomes the instigator and gives India grounds to retaliate, not just in Kashmir, but in the rest of Pakistan. While India can shoot and torture Kashmiris, the only card Pakistan holds is diplomacy.

India on the other hand, has well developed arguments – at least if their hawks are to be believed – to go to war. The most vaunted idea on the Indian side of the border is a clinical strike against alleged terrorist hideouts on Pakistani soil. A violation of airspace would obviously merit a reactionary military response against India. In the case of a violation such as this, a Pakistani response in kind will be legitimate according to international law.

And while India believes that this tit-for-tat would be a self-contained conflict, if previous engagements are anything to go by, things will only escalate. Considering the sabre-rattling on both sides, neither will back down easy – another uncontrollable situation.

The only option for both sides is de-escalation of the conflict. Both sides gain nothing from an extended affair, which is just what this will turn into.

Realising this, the international community should step in and attempt to smooth things over. There was no international mediation in 1998, and the way things stand now, there doesn’t seem to be any help coming. The international community sees the issue as a bilateral one. Without an intervention, India will continue its crackdown on freedom in Kashmir, and worse, use Kashmiri responses to attack Pakistan. Pakistan meanwhile, can only hope that sense prevails and if it doesn’t, we must be ready.