Pakistan’s ex-spymaster Gen. Hameed Gul dies at 79
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Pakistan’s former spymaster Gen. ® Hamid, known for having close links with jihadist forces in Afghanistan and the Indian-administered zone of Kashmir, died of a brain hemorrhage near Islamabad on Saturday night.
The ex-Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) director-general was admitted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Murree, a tourist resort northeast of the Pakistani capital Islamabad, in critical condition. He died at the age of 79.
His daughter Uzma Gul said her father’s body had been shifted to the garrison town of Rawalpindi, where he would be buried in an army graveyard later in the day. His two sons have returned from Turkey and Australia to attend Gul’s funeral.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif and other political leaders including Imran Khan expressed sorrows over the former ISI head’s demise. They extended heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.
Known for his hardline views, Gen. Gul headed the powerful military intelligence agency from 1987 to 1989 when Afghanistan was in a state of tumult after defeat of the Soviet occupation forces. His policy on the Afghan jihad earned him supporters and critics.
To pro-military right-wing political groups, Gen. Gul was a patriotic army officer who espoused Pakistan’s national causes. But detractors saw him as a hawk, whose stance on Afghanistan and Kashmir emboldened militant organisations.
Born in November 1936, Gul played an instrumental role in directing ISI support to Afghan resistance groups against Soviet forces. Perceived as a renowned defence strategist, he also extended covert support to Kashmiri groups against India. Controversy dogged the three-star general even after his retirement from military service in 1992.
Besides diverting funds and guns from the Afghan jihad to Mujahidin Indian-held Kashmir, he also midwifed the creation of a rainbow political alliance -- Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) – to manipulate the 1990 parliamentary election. He allegedly rigged the vote to stop Benazir Bhutto from coming to power.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan tweeted: "Sad to learn of Gen Hameed Gul's death. Whether one agreed with his views or not, he was a patriot. Condolences & prayers go to the family."
A Facebook user, Kifayat Sayady, blasted the ex-general for his role in destabilising Afghanistan and subsequent large-scale massacres of the Afghans. “May he burn in hell for his atrocities against our people,” he wrote.
A teacher at the Journalism Department of Peshawar University, Faizullah Jan, also hit out at Gul’s connections with Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, Afghan Taliban and Kashmiri separatist leaders. Although the former general has died, the region continues to suffer due to his misadventures, Jan remarked.
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