May 2002 News

61 Per Cent Kashmiris Want To Remain As Indian Citizen: Mori

31 May 2002
The Daily Excelsior

London: A vast majority of Kashmiris oppose India and Pakistan going to war to find a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue and believe that the correct way to bring peace to the region is through democratic elections, ending violence and economic development, a poll conducted by an independent market research group in Jammu and Kashmir has revealed. The survey conducted by Mori International said: ''overall, two thirds of people in Jammu and Kashmir take the view that Pakistanís involvement in the region for the last ten years has been bad. Only 15 per cent believe it has been good for the region, while 18 per cent say it has made no real difference.'' On the issue of citizenship, overall, 61 per cent said they felt they would be better off politically and economically as an Indian citizen and only 6 per cent as a Pakistani citizen, but 33 per cent said they did not know. Eighty per cent of the people interviewed said that allowing displaced Kashmiri Pandits to return to their homes in safety would help to bring about peace. An overwhelming 92 per cent oppose the State of Kashmir being divided on the basis of religion or ethnicity. ''There is also overwhelming support - 91 per cent for a forum in which Kashmiris from both sides of the Line of Control can discuss common interests,'' the survey said. There is also widespread consensus on the types of proposals which will help to bring about peace in Jammu and Kashmir. More than 85 per cent of the population, including at least 70 per cent in each region, think the following will help to bring about peace - economic development of the region to provide more job opportunities and reduction of poverty -93 per cent; the holding of free and fair elections to elect the peopleís representatives - 86 per cent; direct consultation between the Indian Government and the people of Kashmir - 87 per cent; an end to militant violence in the region - 86 per cent; stopping the infiltration of militants across the Line of Control - 88 per cent. The Kashmiris believe that the unique cultural identity of the region should be preserved in any long-term solution, and there is virtually no support for the State of Jammu and Kashmir being divided on the basis of religion or ethnic group, the poll said. According to the poll, held between April 20 and 28, just before the start of the recent escalation of conflict in the region, interviews were conducted in Jammu and the surrounding rural areas, Srinagar and its surrounding rural areas and in Leh. Interviewers were set quotas for sex and religion to match the population of each region. Although the vast majority in Jammu and Leh believe the correct way to bring about peace is through democratic elections, opinions are more evenly divided in and around Srinagar, with a bare majority (52 per cent) agreeing with this view. Nevertheless, the vast majority - 76 per cent - of those in Srinagar region believe India and Pakistan should not go to war to bring about a permanent solution. There is a general consensus across the regions that it is not possible to hold democratic elections while violence continues - 65 per cent agree while 34 per cent disagree. A very clear majority of the population - 65 per cent - believes the presence of foreign militants in Jammu and Kashmir is damaging to the Kashmir cause, and most of the rest take the view that it is neither damaging nor helpful. People in all regions are in general agreement that ''the unique cultural identity of Jammu and Kashmir - Kashmiryat -should be preserved in any long-term solution''. Overall, 81 per cent agree, including 76 per cent in Srinagar and 81 per cent in Jammu. The critical role people see for economic development in helping to solve the problems is further underlined by 74 per cent of the people who think that ''people from outside of Kashmir should be encouraged to invest in the area to help rebuild Kashmirís economy and tourist industry which in return will help bring peace to the State.'' (PTI)

 

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