ISLAMABAD - If India really wants to help it should observe ceasefire along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary as Pakistan deals with the massive earthquake that has left scores dead and thousands homeless, Islamabad has conveyed to New Delhi.

The message through the backchannel comes after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned his counterpart Nawaz Sharif offering help for the quake victims.

The Indian leader also expressed his gratitude to Nawaz Sharif for his efforts in ensuring deaf-and-mute young woman Geeta’s return to India after being stranded in Pakistan for over a decade.

Pakistan politely declined Modi’s assistance offer saying the government wanted to cope with the situation using its own resources.

A senior foreign ministry official told The Nation the ceasefire violations by India along the LoC and the Working Boundary were a constant threat to peace and India had been asked to silence the guns if it was serious in its offer to help.

“You can’t help a country and continue firing on the borders killing its citizens. If you want to help, you should mean it,” said the official citing the backchannel contacts with New Delhi.

The official said Pakistan respects the goodwill gesture by Narendra Modi but suspects the New Delhi’s intentions to promote peace in the region. But, he said, Modi’s offer was not refused due to the tension. “The government wants to use its own resources first and then will see if we need aid or not. At this point we have not sought international help at all,” he added.

The official said Pakistan expected India to give up defiance, observe ceasefire and stop meddling in Pakistan’s internal affairs. “Maybe this earthquake can improve the situation. Geeta has been another positive break amid this tension,” he remarked.

On Tuesday, National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was told India had committed 400 violations of the LoC and Working Boundary this year, killing 36 people and injuring 122 others. It was informed Pakistan had lodged protest against these violations at the international level and presented proofs of the India’s Research and Analysis Wing agency’s interference in Balochistan to the UN.

In August Pakistan and India called off the National Security Advisors level talks amid differences on the mandate. India was upset as Pakistan wanted to include Kashmir as part of the agenda beside terrorism. The first-ever NSA-level talks were agreed upon in July in Ufa during a meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan.

The United States was ‘disappointed’ and encouraged Pakistan and India to resume formal dialogue soon.

In September 2015, a delegation headed by Director General Rangers Major General Umer Farooq visited India for biannual talks with the Border Security Force and both sides agreed to stop the ceasefire violations.

For India, the real challenge is China which has pledged $46 billion investment in Pakistan and in June, at a meeting of the UN Sanctions Committee, blocked India’s move to seek action against Pakistan for releasing the suspected mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi who was released on bail from a Pakistani jail in April, a development that India described as ‘unfortunate and disappointing.’

In July, however, Modi accepted an invitation from Nawaz Sharif in Ufa to attend a regional summit in Islamabad next year. The trip will not only be his first visit to Pakistan since coming to power, but would also the first of an Indian leader to Pakistan since Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the country in 2004.

Officials said the backchannel contacts with India were ongoing and both sides were confident of improving ties between the nuclear armed neighbours.

A diplomat said good gestures here and there could be instrumental in bringing the two nations back on the table. “Some friendly countries are also trying to push for resumption of talks between the two countries,” he added.