A survey carried out by a British academic to establish the opinions of Kashmiris on both sides of the divided state about a likely political settlement has produced "striking results". For gung-ho Pakistanis, confident that Kashmiris on the Indian side are just waiting to embrace the Pakistani green, and paranoid Indians, who fear that a plebiscite is bound to yield the same results, there is substantial bad news –only 2 per cent of the respondents on the Indian side favour joining Pakistan and most of these sentiments are confined to just two districts of J&K.
Significantly, the survey also concluded that though more than 43 per cent of the state's population wanted independence for of the whole region, support for the two options provided under the UN resolution i.e. joining India or Pakistan stood at 21 per cent and 15 per cent respectively. This would be another piece of bad news for Pakistan militarists who have expended massive resources in keeping the Kashmir pot boiling in the hope that it will fall into their laps one day.
The poll revealed that on average 44 per cent of people in Pakistani-administered Kashmir favoured independence, compared with 43 per cent in Indian-administered Kashmir.
"However while this is the most popular option overall, it fails to carry an overall majority on either side,'' the report said.
The survey, conducted under the auspices of London-based think tank, Chatham House, claims to be the first such systematic attempt to gauge popular opinion across the divide state.
The survey was carried out in 2009 and Chatham House released the report Wednesday.