Nearly half of the people living in the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir want their disputed and divided state to become an independent country, according to a poll published by think tank Chatham House.

A man walks past closed shops during a strike in Srinagar June 11, 2008. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli/Files London-based Chatham House says the poll is the first to be conducted on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), a military control line that has separated Indian and Pakistani controlled Kashmir since the U.N.-brokered ceasefire between two rivals in 1949.

The poll has produced startling results. On average 44 percent of people in Pakistani-administered Kashmir favoured independence, compared with 43 percent in Indian Kashmir.

But in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, which is at the centre of the two-decades-old anti-India insurgency, between 75 percent and 95 percent support freedom both from India and Pakistan.

The scenic Himalayan region, which is divided between three nuclear-armed neighbours India, Pakistan and China, comprises of three regions -- Buddhist-dominated Ladakh, Hindu-dominated Jammu and Muslim-majority Kashmir valley.