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BBC News Online looks at possible solutions for Kashmir. Click on the maps below





Religious groups: Indian-administered Kashmir
REGION
Buddhist
Hindu
Muslim
Other
Kashmir Valley
-
4%
95%
-
Jammu
-
66%
30%
4%
Ladakh
50%
-
46%
3%
Religious groups: Pakistani-administered Kashmir
REGION
Buddhist
Hindu
Muslim
Other
Northern Areas
-
-
99%
-
Azad Jammu and Kashmir
-
-
99%
-
Source: Indian/Pakistani Government Censuses
Scenario six: Independent Kashmir Valley

An independent Kashmir Valley has been considered by some as the best solution because it would address the grievances of those who have been fighting against the Indian Government since the insurgency began in 1989. But critics say that, without external assistance, the region would not be economically viable.

The movement for independence in the Kashmir Valley gained momentum in the late 1980s when Kashmiris protested against their continuing allegiance to the Indian Union. In the present day, if a regional plebiscite offered independence as an option, it is possible that the majority of Kashmiris would vote in favour of independence.

With an approximate land mass of 1,800 square miles (80 miles long, 20 to 25 miles wide) it is much larger than Monaco and Liechtenstein but only one-tenth of the size of Bhutan. Whether or not the rest of the state retained its current political affiliations, many Kashmiris therefore believe that the valley could be viable in its own right.

In terms of livelihood, the valley could sustain itself through tourism, handicrafts and agriculture.

But an independent Kashmir Valley would also need to retain good relations with its neighbours in order to survive economically. Not only is the region landlocked, but it is snowbound during winter.

An independent Kashmir Valley would have the advantage of giving neither Pakistan nor India a victory out of their longstanding dispute. But although Pakistan might favour the creation of an independent Kashmir Valley, India would be unlikely to agree to the loss of territory involved.

Autonomy of the same region under the Indian Union is also an option; Pakistan is more likely to request a 'joint protectorate' in order to share in safeguarding the Kashmir valley's political integrity and economic development.


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