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Hamid Gul

Hamid Gul
 
 
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Profile
Lieutenant-General (R) Hamid Gul (20 November 1936 – 15 August 2015) HI(M), SBt, was a three-star general in the Pakistan Army, defense analyst and a former spymaster. Gul was notable for serving as the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, between 1987 and 1989. During his tenure, Gul played an instrumental role in directing ISI support to Afghan resistance groups against Soviet forces during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, in cooperation with the CIA.

Gul was also widely credited for expanding covert support to Kashmiri nationalist groups against neighboring rival India in the disputed Kashmir region from 1989, diverting focus from the fallout of the Soviet war. Gul earned a reputation as a "Godfather" of Pakistani geostrategic policies. Following an escalation of the Kashmir militancy in India and the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, he remained a controversial figure even after retirement, and was accused by the United States of having ties to shady groups. However, Gul denied the allegations. Gul's tenure as the director of the ISI coincided with Benazir Bhutto's term as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Later, Gul played a role in the establishment of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, a conservative political alliance formed to oppose Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

On August 15, 2015, he died after suffering a brain hemorrhage.

Early life

Gul was born on 20 November 1936 to Muhammad Khan in Sargodha of Punjab, in what was then British India (now Pakistan). He got his early education from a school in his village. He briefly got admission in Government College Lahore, before being admitted to Pakistan Military Academy Kakul. Gul's family were Pathans of Punjab and belonged to the Yusufzai tribe, who originated from Swat and migrated to Lahore, later settling in Sargodha in Punjab.

Army career

Hamid Gul was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in October 1956 with the 18th PMA Long Course in the 19th Lancers regiment of the Armored Corps. He was a squadron commander during the 1965 war with India. He attended the Command and Staff College Quetta in 1968-69. During 1972–1976, Gul directly served under General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq as a battalion commander, and then as Staff Colonel, when General Zia was GOC, 1st Armored Division and Commander, II Corps at Multan. Thus, Gul had already cemented his ties with General Zia by serving under him when both were officers in the Armoured regiments of the II Corps. Gul was promoted to Brigadier in 1978 and steadily rose to be the Martial Law Administrator of Bahawalpur and then the Commander of the 1st Armoured Division, Multan in 1982, his appointments expressly wished by Zia himself.

Gul was then sent to GHQ as the Director-General or DG Military Intelligence (DGMI) under General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who then nominated him to be the ISI chief succeeding General Akhtar Abdur Rahman in March 1987. He was later replaced as the ISI commander by PM Benazir Bhutto in May 1989 and Gul was transferred as the commander, II Corps in Multan. In this capacity, Gul conducted the Zarb-e-Momin military exercise in November–December 1989, the biggest Pakistani Armed Forces show of muscle since 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.

General Asif Nawaz upon taking the reins of Pakistan Army in August 1991, had Gul transferred as the DG Heavy Industries Taxila. A menial job compared to Gul's stature, Gul refused to take the assignment, an act for which he was retired from the army.

ISI Director-General (1987–1989)

Afghanistan and the Soviet war


During his time as head of the ISI amid the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Gul planned and executed the operation to capture Jalalabad from the Soviet-backed Afghan army in the spring of 1989. This switch to conventional warfare was seen as a mistake by some since the mujahideen did not have the capacity to capture a major city, and the battle did not yield expected ground results. However, the Pakistani army was intent on installing a resistance-backed government in Afghanistan, with Jalalabad as their provisional capital, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf as Prime Minister, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar as Foreign Minister.

Contrary to Pakistani expectations, this battle proved that the Afghan army could fight without Soviet help, and greatly increased the confidence of government supporters. Conversely, the morale of the mujahideen involved in the attack slumped and many local commanders of Hekmatyar and Sayyaf concluded truces with the government. In the words of Brigadier Mohammad Yousef, an officer of the ISI, "the jihad [meaning the plans for Hekmatyar to be installed as prime minister] never recovered from Jalalabad". As a result of this failure, Hamid Gul was sacked by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and replaced by Shamsur Rahman Kallu, who pursued a more classical policy of support to the militants fighting Afghanistan.

Domestic politics

During his tenure as ISI chief in 1988, General Gul successfully gathered conservative politicians and helped them create Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), a centre-right conservative coalition united against the left-leaning Pakistan Peoples Party. Gul later acknowledged his role in IJI's formation in various interviews for which he was harshly rebuked in one of the editorials of a major Pakistani newspaper, which asked the general to apologize first to the PPP for having done so and after that, apologizing for a lack of intelligence because the IJI could not maintain its two-thirds majority for long.

Kashmir and India

According to accusations by Indian commentator B Raman, Gul actively backed Khalistani militants. "When Bhutto became prime minister in 1988", Raman says, "Gul justified backing these insurgents as the only way of pre-empting a fresh Indian threat to Pakistan's territorial integrity. When she asked him to stop playing that card, he reportedly told her: Madam, keeping Punjab destabilized is equivalent to the Pakistan army having an extra division at no cost to the taxpayers." "Gul strongly advocated supporting indigenous Kashmiri groups", adds Raman, "but was against infiltrating Pakistani and Afghan mercenaries into Jammu and Kashmir. He believed Pakistan would play into India's hands by doing so."

Iran

In Islamabad, Gul asked for Iran to explain its bona fides regarding the pact signed with India to jointly counter terrorism. According to him, "Iran should come clear on the nature of agreement with India. Otherwise this will create doubts and apprehensions in Muslim Ummah that Iran helps RAW in putting down Kashmir jihad". He also added that in case doubts about the agreement came true and Iran was seen as working with India against "Kashmir freedom struggle", then it would be concluded that the country also supports Mossad, the Israeli external intelligence agency.

Post-Soviet war fallout

General Gul worked closely with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when he was the ISI head. However, he became dispassionate with the United States after it turned its back on Afghanistan following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, as the United States had promised to help build a prosperous Afghanistan. He was further disconcerted when the USA began punishing Pakistan with economic and military sanctions for its secret nuclear program. General Gul then went on to declare that "the Muslim world must stand united to confront the U.S. in its so-called War on Terrorism, which is in reality a war against Muslims. Let's destroy America wherever its troops are trapped."

General Gul personally met Osama Bin Laden in 1993 and refused to label him a terrorist unless and until irrefutable evidence was provided linking him to alleged acts of terrorism. Only days after the September 11 attacks, Gul also stated his belief that the attacks were "clearly an inside job".

Post-retirement career

According to Zahid Hussain, in his book Frontline Pakistan, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul and former Army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg were part of the 9 January 2001 Darul Uloom Haqqania Islamic conference held near Peshawar, which was also attended by 300 leaders representing various Islamic groups. The meeting declared it a religious duty of Muslims all over the world to protect the government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and the Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden it was hosting, whom they considered as a 'great Muslim warrior.' He has since gone on to praise Pakistan for hiding Bin Laden for nine years, in a television interview with Times Now.

On 12 March 2007, Gul marched alongside activists from the liberal democratic parties and retired former senior military officers against General Pervez Musharraf. General Gul faced down riot police when they tried to arrest him at a rally outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad protesting against attempts to dismiss Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

He turned against the restored Supreme Court chief justice after a bench allowed Musharraf to contest the elections in uniform.

Days after the 2007 Karachi bombings, Benazir Bhutto in a letter to President Musharaf written on 16 October 2007 named Hamid Gul as one of the four persons including the current Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief Ijaz Shah, the then chief minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, then chief minister of Sindh Arbab Ghulam Rahim, she suspected were behind the attacks. Gul responded furiously to these claims. He was arrested on 4 November by the military police in Islamabad during President Pervez Musharraf's declared state of emergency.

Gul acknowledged his affiliation with Ummah Tameer-e-Nau. Due to his links to the group, banned by the US Department of State, the United States government prompted Gul's name in a list of 4 former ISI officers for inclusion in the list of international terrorists that was sent to UN Secretary General, but China refused.

Gul has been informed by a senior official in Pakistan's Foreign Ministry that he had been placed on a U.S. watch list of "global terrorists", along with several others. He was shown a U.S. document that detailed several charges against him, including allegations that he had ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Gul rejected these allegations. On 14 December 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari in an interview with Newsweek described Hamid Gul as a "political ideologue" of terror rather than a physical supporter.

Death

Gul died on 15 August 2015 from brain hemorrhage. He was vacationing and celebrating Pakistan's Independence Day with family in Murree. Late evening, Gul's health condition worsened and he was shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Murree, where he was later pronounced dead. According to reports, he had been suffering from high blood pressure and headaches for some time. His death was condoled by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif and other high officials.


 
 
 
 
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