Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has proposed an Ireland-style solution of an open border between the UK-governed Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic's adjacent territory as the best option to resolve the Kashmir issue.
"Like Ireland, the only roadmap forward is two Kashmirs with an easy border and autonomy," he said, during a discussion organised by South Asia Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London yesterday.
"Kashmir can be solved if both these nations, now nuclear powers, realise that whatever solution has to emerge, everybody will not accept it. But at least 70-80 per cent of people of India, Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh should accept it," he said.
The Ireland-style solution refers to the Common Travel Area shared between the UK and neighbouring Ireland, dating back to the 1920s. Under the arrangement, citizens of either country require minimal identity documents to travel through each other's territories.
At the UK launch of 'The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace', co-authored by former RAW chief A S Dulat and former ISI chief Lt Gen (retd.) Asad Durrani, the Kashmiri leader reiterated that "hard methods" will not win over the hearts of the people in the region.
"Let's stop fooling each other neither side is going to give up any ground. The only way forward is talks," he said, adding that leaders on both sides must work to counter the "vested interests" for whom the region is a "money-spinner" through the sale of guns and ammunition.
"Let's hope Kashmir becomes an area of cooperation, rather than conflict," he said.
The former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing and former Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau, also put forward the prospect of greater intelligence cooperation between the two countries as a way forward.