Washington, June 7 : A new study sponsored by the US Institute of Peace has concluded that the Kashmir issue could be resolved by making the Line of Control (LoC) "irrelevant", thereby paving the way for free movement of trade and people.
It said that softening of the LoC suits India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir, as the divided families will be reunited, the business community will flourish, but the militants will have to be dealt with because they are opposed to any such outcome.
The soften-LoC solution means different things to different people, the Daily Times quoted the study report as saying.
The study was conducted by PR Chari of India and Hasan Askari Rizvi of Pakistan. They maintain that both countries agree that independence for Kashmir is a "non-starter", and also rule out a military solution. They found that the public mood in both countries favoured peace and stability, and that the Track-II diplomacy had strengthened the ongoing peace process.
The study found that while India and Pakistan have held onto their traditional positions on the issue, the people of Kashmir have not been accorded due weight because the dispute has been seen as being bilateral in nature.
Chari and Rizvi write that free movement of people across the LoC must be facilitated, trade and commerce increased, humanitarian aid and development of the region undertaken and public administration efforts of interdependent issues enhanced. The number of crossing points between the two parts of Kashmir should be multiplied.
They are also of the view that frequency of bus service increased considerably, road links extended, the Sialkot-Jammu rail link re-established, civil society exchanges increased, present visa and permit restrictions "debureaucratised" and drastically eased, tourism introduced and encouraged, communication links installed and promoted, trucking of goods allowed with border checks eased, a free trade area established, de-mining undertaken, forest management co-operation brought about, hydropower and irrigation projects jointly taken in hand, public administration improved, a joint mechanism on terrorism established and military to military programmes initiated to improve the atmosphere.