Pakistan's Sharif says world ignores South Asia tensions at its peril

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accused nuclear-armed rival India on Wednesday of putting unacceptable conditions on dialogue with Pakistan and said the world would ignore the dangers of rising tensions in South Asia at its own peril.

Speaking to the annual United Nations General Assembly, Sharif said Pakistan could not ignore India's "unprecedented" arms build-up and would "take whatever measures are necessary to maintain credible deterrence."

India has accused Pakistan of being behind a deadly attack on an army base in the disputed Kashmir region on Sunday in which 18 soldiers were killed and said it had the right to respond when and where it chose.

Pakistan has rejected the allegation and accused India of apportioning blame before the incident had been properly investigated.

Sharif said Pakistan wanted peace with India and had repeatedly offered dialogue.

"But India has posed unacceptable preconditions to engage in dialogue," he said. "Talks are in the interests of both countries. They are essential to resolve our differences, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and to avert the danger of any escalation."

India has said it would only discuss terrorism-related issues, whereas Pakistan wants a wider agenda that would, among other things, discuss the Kashmir question.

Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan since 1947, is at the heart the neighbours' seven decades of mutual distrust. Two of their three wars since independence from Britain have been fought over the region. India's portion of Kashmir has been under a major security lockdown during more than two months of protests sparked by the July 8 killing of a popular young commander of a Kashmiri militant group.

Sharif repeated a Pakistani call on the United Nations and the international community to investigate atrocities it alleges have been committed by Indian security forces in Kashmir.

"The international community ignores the dangers of rising tensions in South Asia at its own peril," he said.

India has long accused Pakistan of playing a role in the 27-year long insurgency against its rule in Jammu and Kashmir, its only Muslim-majority state. Pakistan denies sending fighters into Indian-administered Kashmir.