While the leaders of Pakistan and India exchanged remarks – the first stuttering event that can be termed a dialogue of any sort – another flashpoint emerged on the horizon. The atmosphere in the Kashmir Valley hangs heavy and ominous as it is, we do not need another spark.

Yet, that is exactly what may be on the way. Petitions challenging Article 35-A are listed in the Indian Supreme Court, with the next hearing being due on Monday. Article 35-A empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges, and hence serves as an important legal bulwark that protects the land’s demographics in case of a future plebiscite and marks the province as a semi-autonomous territory rather than a core one. A repeal of this provision is unsurprisingly being viewed as a line in the sand for Kashmiris.

Given the significance of such an act, the signs in the valley are worrying. A complete shutdown is being observed across IoK today against arbitrary arrests, killings and alleged attempts to repeal Article 35-A. As part of the crackdown which began on Friday night, police arrested at least 200 Jamaat-e-Islami activists ahead of the hearing Large contingents of troops have been reported to be moving inside Kashmir, causing panic, and conflicting reasons are being given for why there troops are there. In the backgrounds the protests and state violence is as constant as it has ever been; gun battles, pellet guns, and teargas is the norm, with 2 people reportedly being killed in the latest ones.

While it is far from certain that the Indian state will repeal the law, there could not have been a worse time for the decision to come up than now, with and election around the corner and Kashmir is turmoil. Perhaps more than Pulwama, the leaders of both countries should be seeking to diffuse this powder-keg.

The Foreign Office official statement has it right; “any move in this direction would be a blatant violation of international law and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit introducing material changes to the disputed territory”. This view is shared by local Karshmiri leaders; from the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) - comprising Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik - to the members of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and Jammat-t-Islami.