A WorldPublicOpinion.org poll of the Indian and Pakistani publics reveals that half or more are open to a range of possible
outcomes for Kashmir other than it being part of their respective countries. On
neither side is there strong majority opposition to Kashmir becoming an independent country or dividing Kashmir between Pakistan and India.
More significant, Indians and Pakistanis show a readiness to have the Kashmiri people decide their own fate. If a majority
of all Kashmiris were to choose independence, a majority of Indians and Pakistanis would find such independence at least tolerable.
A poll by World Public Opinion.org asked Indian and Pakistanis to consider a range of possible outcomes for the Indian-controlled
portion of Kashmir and to say whether they found them desirable, acceptable tolerable, or unacceptable.
When asked: “Suppose the majority of all Kashmiris, including those on both sides of Line of Control and refugees,
want Kashmir to be an independent state. In that
case would you regard an independent Kashmir
state as desirable, acceptable, tolerable, or unacceptable,” it was desirable, acceptable or tolerable to 51 percent
Indians. Only 35 per cent said it was unacceptable. Three-quarters of Pakistanis
called independence for Kashmir
desirable or acceptable. About 29 percent Indians said it was at least tolerable.
India and Pakistan have been in a state of tension over
Kashmir since the late 1940s when India gained control of most of Kashmir and Pakistan the remainder. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, with the most recent war in 1999 raising the specter
of nuclear war. While direct confrontation has abated, militant groups opposing Indian control of Kashmir have continued to carry out terrorist attacks against
Indian targets, with India claiming and Pakistan denying that such groups are supported by Pakistan. As recently as July 10, India and Pakistani troops exchanged fire
across the Line of Control dividing Kashmir.
"Given the deep roots of the conflict over Kashmir, it is surprising that the conflict does not muster clearly polarized
majorities in Pakistan and India, falling in line behind their governments' positions," comments Clay Ramsay, research director
of WorldPublicOpinion.org. "Instead, many show openness to considering different possibilities for resolving the conflict."
In the survey, Indians and Pakistanis were asked to consider a range of possible outcomes for Indian-controlled Kashmir (known as Jammu and Kashmir) and to say whether they found them
desirable, acceptable, tolerable, or unacceptable.
The idea that received the lowest level of opposition is for Jammu and Kashmir to become independent. Three quarters of Pakistanis called
this outcome desirable or acceptable. While 50 percent of Indians said this idea is unacceptable, the other half said it was
at least tolerable or did not provide an answer.
The idea of dividing Jammu and Kashmir between Pakistan and India gets little support on either side, but is also not opposed by a large majority. Pakistanis were roughly divided between
52 percent who found the idea unacceptable and 48 percent who said it was at least tolerable or did not answer. Among Indians,
while 42 percent found division unacceptable, 58 percent said it was at least tolerable or did not answer.
However the greatest indicator of flexibility is that Indians as well as Pakistanis express a readiness to have the
Kashmiri people decide their fate. Respondents were asked to "suppose the majority of all Kashmiris, including those on both
sides of the Line of Control and refugees, want Kashmir to be an independent state." In that case only 35 percent of Indians would find independence unacceptable. Among Pakistanis,
only 11 percent found this outcome unacceptable.
A major controversy between India and Pakistan are the militant groups fighting against Indian control
and Kashmir and carrying out attacks against civilians in India in opposition to Indian control of Jammu and Kashmir. A majority of Pakistanis say Pakistan's government does not provide support
to militant groups that conduct attacks against civilians in India, while a majority of Indians tend to believe it is providing
Pakistani attitudes about such groups are complex. Less than half (39%) believe that such groups operating in Kashmir
help either the security of Kashmiris, though few (9%) say it hurts security. In the context of the conflict in Kashmir, large majorities of Pakistanis say that attacks on Indian
government officials are rarely or never justified. Attacks on security- related personnel in India--policemen, intelligence agents, military
and paramilitary troops--are rejected by a plurality.
Asked about the possibility of the government "putting pressure on India by supporting militant groups in occupied Kashmir," 37 percent favored it, while 26 percent opposed it
and 37 percent did not provide an answer.
Overall both sides endorse their own governments' approach to the conflict over Kashmir, especially Pakistanis (Indians 57%, Pakistanis 68%). Only
minorities on either side call for their government to take a harder or softer line on the Kashmir issue in its dealing with the other country.
This survey of the urban population of Pakistan was carried out by AC Nielsen - Pakistan using a questionnaire developed by
WorldPublicOpinion.org. All interviewing was conducted in Urdu. A total of 907 face-to-face interviews across 182 primary
sampling units in 19 Pakistan cities were carried out between September 12 and September 28, 2007. Sampling error for a sample of this
size is approximately +/- 3.3 percentage points.
In India, the survey was carried out by Team C Voter, using a questionnaire developed by WorldPublicOpinion.org. A face-to-face
survey with 1,258 urban respondents was conducted in two waves during October and November of 2007 in 10 of the largest metropolitan
areas. India's population is approximately 30 percent urban. Sampling error for a sample of this size is approximately +/-2.8 percentage
(WorldPublicOpinion.org,July 16, 2008)
‘Kashmir issue more important than Palestine’.
“Though the Kashmir
conflict gets less attention than the Israel-Palestinian conflict in one regard it may be the more important of the two: both
parties to the conflict, not one have nuclear weapons. Indeed, many analysts see the world’s most likely scenario for
a nuclear exchange as hostilities between India and Pakistan over Kashmir spiraling out of control,” WorldPublicOpinion.Org writes in the introduction to the poll report.
Mixed reaction to opinion poll in Kashmir
The opinion poll on Kashmir
conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org evoked mixed reactions in valley.
APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq welcomed the changed attitude of Indians towards Kashmir dispute. “It is good to see that people of India and Pakistan have realized that peace and prosperity
in South Asia is linked to Kashmir, “he said. Mirwaiz added, “Indian public
usually shows a keen – jerk reaction to Kashmir issue. I find the fact encouraging that the Indian public opinion is becoming more educated on Kashmir and I hope that people of India have right knowledge about the aspirations
Senior Hurriyet leader Maulana Abbas Ansari, while welcoming the change in Indian mindset towards Kashmir issue said, “Although Kashmiris do not need opinion
polls to tell them anything, it is a welcome change. Our stand is simple – Kashmir be allowed the right to self-determination according to UN
resolution and commitment of Indian leadership.”
National Confrence leader Ali Muhammad Sagar said, “This is a welcome change from previous stands of India and Pakistan, they were not ready to accept Independent
Kashmir. Such a change in thinking should kick – start the resolution of Kashmir dispute.”
PDP general secretary Nizam-ud-din Bhat said,”Opinions from Indian and Pakistani sides which respect the basic
aspirations of Kashmiris are always welcome. The bottom line of the resolution
will be determined only if aspirations of Kashmiris are kept in mind.”
The Government has dismissed as “far-fetched and misleading” the conclusion drawn by an opinion poll conducted
by an agency suggesting that the majority of Indians were not averse to an independent Kashmir.
Reacting to the report of the World Public Opinion.org survey, the information
secretary, K B Jandial, told Greater Kashmir on Saturday that the conclusion was “laughable and misleading.”
“To suggest that 1200 people approached by the agency could reflect
the opinion of a 1.2 billion population of the country was simply ridiculous,” he said, adding that “the poll
conclusion was an attempt to mislead the public and create confusion in their mind.”(GK MONITORING DESK,
Sinagar, July 17,2008)