Pakistan wanted to wind down militancy in Kashmir in 2006, but failed due to a stiff 10-day protest by militant leaders, according to a US embassy cable from Islamabad released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
“The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had summoned the leaders of the Kashmiri militancy for a March 8, 2006, meeting in which the government of Pakistan thanked the militants for their struggle, but then told them to lay down their arms and give the bilateral peace process a chance,” says the cable.In 2006, Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf had proposed a four-point formula, envisaging self-rule in a Jammu and Kashmir demarcated into provinces. Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani had opposed the proposal.
The WikiLeaks cable says that the militant leaders responded to Pakistan’s orders to stand down and accept financial cuts with a 10-day protest, and refused to leave the safehouse in Islamabad where the meeting took place.
Although the details varied, most accounts agreed on the basic message: time had come for the militants to stop violence to allow space for Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to move forward with peace initiatives. According to the cable, Srinagar-based separatist leader Yasin Malik, who heads the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), told the US that he had used his March-April 2006 visit to Pakistan to reach out to Kashmiri militant leaders, counselling them to lay down arms and give the peace process a chance.
The cable also stated that JKLF secretary general Mohammed Rafiq Dar said the confusion in the United Jihad Council (UJC) – a conglomerate of leaders of militant groups active in Kashmir – created an opening for Malik to advocate a ceasefire. For instance, Dar said Malik held several conversations with Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader and UJC chairman Syed Salahuddin, who said he joined the protest in response to Pakistan’s orders out of comradeship.
The US embassy adds a note to Salahuddin’s statement saying, “The syntax of Salahuddin’s remark suggesting that militancy will naturally die off if only the militants were given a seat at the table indicates that it was lifted straight from Malik’s talking points, which paraphrase Musharraf’s own thinking.”