Arch rivals India and Pakistan celebrate the 70th anniversary of independence from Britain with fanfare and speeches by Indias Narendra Modi and Pakistans Nawaz Sharif. Both prime ministers set aside the familiar hawkish note for the 69th anniversary, their cordial tones a sign that they might announce new initiatives on the 70th to ease decades of mutual hostility over Kashmir.
Modi, in particular, with United Nations Security Council ambitions, might benefit from toning down the hostility. Pakistan marks independence on Aug 14. India marks it on Aug 15. The end of British colonial rule in 1947 created two independent states - Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, and the mountainous region of Kashmir between them has been a flashpoint ever since. They have fought a succession of wars over the disputed territory since partition. Periodic warming of relations between the two nuclear-armed countries have pulled both back from the brink, and there are recent signs that tensions have eased for the foreseeable future. A pacific note stands to benefit Modi, who makes no secret of his ambitions at the United Nations. He is lobbying hard for reform of the United Nations Security Council and a permanent seat for India on the all-important body. He describes the Security Council as a product of circumstances of a bygone era, and in 2015 he visited every one of the five permanent members United States, Britain, France, China and Russia to make his case. His Independence Day speech from the ramparts of New Delhis Red Fort is likely to directly or indirectly enumerate Indias qualifications for Security Council membership.