Srinagar: Less than half of residents of Kashmir favour independence as a solution to end unrest in the region and only two per cent of them want to join Pakistan if given an option, a survey said on Friday.
Conducted by British academic Robert Bradnock, the independent survey found that 44 percent of people in Pakistani occupied Kashmir favour independence, and 43 percent on the Indian side Kashmir.
United Nations resolutions soon after the partition of the sub-continent in 1947 called for a plebiscite to determine whether the region should belong to India or Pakistan, both of which claim Kashmir in full.
"These results support the already widespread view that the plebiscite options are likely to offer no solution to the dispute," said the survey, which was released by the London-based Chatham House think-tank.
Titled "Kashmir: Paths to Peace", it was a rare attempt to assess the opinions of people on both sides of the Line of Control (LOC) -- the de facto border that splits the region between the two rival nations.
"Any solution will depend on the Indian and Pakistani governments’ commitment to achieving a permanent settlement," Bradnock said.
The survey interviewed about 3,800 people to record their views on how they saw the future of Kashmir -- a scenic region that has been a constant source of tension between India and Pakistan.
In the Kashmir valley, which has been at the heart of a 20-year-old insurgency against Indian rule, between 74 percent and 95 percent respondents favoured independent Kashmir.
But in the Jammu region, support for independence dwindled to less than one percent.
Surprisingly, nearly 58% of those surveyed said the LOC could be accepted as a permanent border if it was made more flexible.
The survey found that the "overwhelming majority" of people wanted a solution to the dispute, even though there were no "simple fixes".
It also showed that only 20% of respondents said violence could be a solution to the issue while 40% felt it was a deterrent to peace.