Hamid Gul

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Hamid Gul
Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence
In office
29 March 1987 – 4 October 1989
Preceded by Akhtar Abdur Rahman
Succeeded by Shamsur Rahman Kallu
Personal details
Born (1936-11-20) 20 November 1936 (age 78)
Sargodha, British Punjab, British Indian Empire
Citizenship  Pakistan
Alma mater Pakistan Military Academy
Government College University, Lahore
Occupation Retired Army Officer and Defense Analyst
Religion Islam
Awards Sitara-e-Basalat
Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military)
Military service
Allegiance  Pakistan
Service/branch  Pakistan Army
Years of service 1956–1992
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant-General
Unit 19th Lancers, Army Armoured Corps
Commands 1st Armoured Division, Multan
DG Military Intelligence (DGMI)
DG Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
II Strike Corps, Multan
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Soviet war in Afghanistan
Battle of Jalalabad
Afghanistan War of 1989
Operation Rakhshak

Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul (Urdū:حمید گل; born 20 November 1936) HI(M), SBt, is a retired high-ranking general officer in the Pakistan Army, and a former spymaster famous for serving as the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, between 1987 and 1989 during the late stages of and post-stages of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.[1]

Gul is widely known for promoting terrorism and credited for pressing the hard-line policies on India after starting the insurgency in Kashmir against India in 1989[2] by diverting the Mujahideen who participated in the Soviet war to Indian-held Kashmir. Gul was also instrumental in the establishment of the Taliban and was once known as the "father of the Taliban".[3] Apart from the Kashmir militancy in India and the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, Gul is also accused by the United States of having ties to Islamic terrorist organisations such as the Al Qaeda.[4]

Gul's tenure as the director of the ISI coincided with Benazir Bhutto's term as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Later, Gul established the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA).

Early life[edit]

Hameed gul's family was originally from Swat,Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then migrated to Lahore and after a few years they settled in Sargodha.Hameed Gul belongs to Momand tribe of Pashtuns.,[5] Hamid Gul was born on 20 November 1936 to Muhammad Khan in the Sargodha District of Punjab in what was then British India but now Pakistan. He got his early education from a school in his village. He briefly got admission in Government College Lahore, before reporting to Pakistan Military Academy Kakul.

Army career[edit]

Hamid Gul was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in October 1956 with the 18th PMA Long Course in the 19th Lancers regiment of the Armoured 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 Armoured 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.[citation needed]

Saudi influence[edit]

Gul was then sent to GHQ as the Director-General or DG Military Intelligence (DGMI)[6] 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.[citation needed]

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.[7]

Career as ISI Chief[edit]

Execution of failed Jalalabad operation[edit]

During his time as head of the ISI and the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Gul was blamed for planning and executing the operation to capture Jalalabad from the 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. But the Pakistani army was intent on installing a fundamentalist-dominated 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.[8] 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.

Organization of IJI against PPP[edit]

During his tenure as ISI chief in 1988, General Gul successfully gathered right-wing politicians and helped them create Islami Jamhoori Ittehad, a religio-political conservative coalition against the left-leaning liberal Pakistan Peoples Party. He has recently acknowledged this fact in various interviews[9] and for this he was harshly rebuked in one of editorials of a major Pakistani newspaper, which asked the general to apologise first to the PPP for having done the sordid deed and after that, apologising for lack of wits because the IJI could not maintain its two-thirds majority for long.[10]

Kashmir Insurgency[edit]

Indian front[edit]

According to Indian accusations B Raman, an Indian strategic analyst, Gul actively backed Khalistani militants. "When Bhutto became prime minister in 1988", Raman says, "Gul justified backing these insurgents as the only way of preempting 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."[11]

Iranian front[edit]

In Islamabad, Gul asked that Iran should 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 will be concluded that the country also supports Mossad, Israeli external intelligence agency.[12]

Turning against the United States[edit]

General Gul worked closely with the CIA during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when he was the ISI chief. But, he became passionately anti-American after the United States turned its back on Afghanistan following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, as the United States had promised to help build a prosperous Afghanistan.[11] 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."[13]

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.[14]

Accusation of US and Israel behind 9/11[edit]

Only days after the September 11 attacks he stated that they were "clearly an inside job". [15]

Post-Army career[edit]

Solidarity with Osama bin Laden[edit]

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 Taliban government, and the Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden it was hosting, whom they considered as a 'great Muslim warrior.'[16] He has since gone on to praise Pakistan for hiding Bin Laden for nine years, in a television interview with Times Now.[17]

Support for Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry[edit]

On 12 March 2007, Gul marched shoulder-to-shoulder with 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.[18]

He turned against the restored Supreme Court chief justice after a bench allowed Musharraf to contest the elections in uniform. This is first report said.[19]

Accusation by Benazir Bhutto[edit]

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.[20] 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.[21]

Terrorism charges[edit]

He has acknowledged being a member of banned militant organisation Ummah Tameer-e-Nau.[22] The United States government has included Hamid 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.[23]

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.[4]

On 14 December 2008 President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari in an interview with Newsweek described Hamid Gul as a political ideologue of terror.[24]

In July 2010, Wikileaks released over 92,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan between 2004 and the end of 2009. In those documents Gul was accused of backing Taliban Insurgency against western forces to disrupt U.S. presence in Afghanistan.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Afghanistan War Infoplease.com, 22 July 2007
  2. ^ "Bhutto Conspiracy Theories Fill the Air" Time Magazine, 28 December 2007
  3. ^ "Ex-Pakistan spy chief urges talks with Mullah Omar" CNN, 12 March 2010
  4. ^ a b Former Pakistani intelligence official denies aiding group tied to Mumbai siege, Candace Rondeaux, Washington Post, 09-Dec-2008
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV5fGNuMO1U
  6. ^ Hamid Hussain, "Undercover Chaos – Role of Pakistani Armed Forces Intelligence Agencies in Domestic Arena" Defence Journal, December 2005
  7. ^ Ayaz Amir, "Another myth of independence" Dawn, 23 May 2003
  8. ^ "Rebels without a cause". PBS. 29 August 1989. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  9. ^ Hameed Gul admits he formed IJI, The News (Pakistan), 30 August 2009
  10. ^ Editorial: What the generals must apologise for Daily Times, 1 February 2008
  11. ^ a b 'We are walking into the American trap' Rediff.com, 12 February 2004
  12. ^ ISI in Bangladesh Geocities.com, 1 October 2001
  13. ^ God will destroy America, says Hamid Gul Daily Times, 30 August 2003
  14. ^ Hamid Gul Interview with Tehelka.com Robert-fisk.com, 14 September 2001
  15. ^ UPI news 26 September 2001
  16. ^ Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam by Zahid Hussain, Columbia University Press, 2007, page 81-82.
  17. ^ Ghosh, Shubham (10 July 2013) Former ISI chief lauds Pak for hiding Osama for 9 yrs oneindia.in
  18. ^ Pakistan dictator lashes at 'plotters' The Australian, 19 March 2007
  19. ^ http://criticalppp.com/archives/380
  20. ^ Shakeel, Syed Faisal PPP demands probe based on Benazir’s letter Dawn Newspaper, 30 December 2007
  21. ^ Al Jazeera – Reactions To Pakistan Emergency Al Jazeera English, 4 November 2007
  22. ^ Former Pakistani Official Denies Links to Lashkar, The Washington Post, 2008-12-09
  23. ^ "Hamid Gul & LeT’s Chachu may get official terrorist tag". The Economic Times. 6 December 2008. 
  24. ^ "Zardari calls Hamid Gul political ideologue of terror rather than a physical supporter.". The Nation. 15 December 2008. 
  25. ^ "The audacity of Hamid Gul". The Washington Post. 

External links[edit]


  • Zahid Hussain. Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.
  • Husain Haqqani. Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005.
Military offices
Preceded by
Akhtar Abdur Rahman
Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence
Succeeded by
Shamsur Rahman Kallu