‘Taliban architect’ Naseerullah Babar passes away

Published: January 11, 2011
Babar was also known for launching a brutal operation against the MQM.

Babar was also known for launching a brutal operation against the MQM.


Major-General (retd) Naseerullah Babar, who was known for his role in the operation against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and widely seen as the brains behind the Taliban in Afghanistan, passed away on January 10 in Peshawar.

He reportedly had an attack of paralysis on Sunday and was admitted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar, where he died early on Monday. He was buried in his ancestral graveyard in Pirpai, Nowshera, on Monday afternoon. His funeral was attended by many prominent political and government functionaries.

He was 82 and is survived by his wife and daughter.

Born in 1928, Babar served in the Pakistan Army from 1948 to 1974 and joined the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the 1970s. He also served as inspector general of the Frontier Corps, as well as governor of the North West Frontier Province (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) from 1975 to 1977.

He was considered to be extremely close to the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and served as interior minister during her second tenure. It was at this time that the government decided to launch an operation against the MQM, one that saw the streets of Karachi turn into a battlefield.

“Regardless of how grave the situation was, he would remain cool and unfazed. Even during the operation he would go out on the streets and visit affected areas himself,” one journalist recalled. “Benazir Bhutto treated him with a lot of respect and trusted him completely. She would always address him as Babar Sahib,” he said.

Senior PPP leader Taj Haider said Babar was “very brave and had a great deal of integrity.” In the years following the dismissal of Benazir’s second government, Babar remained close to the PPP leader. “He was very perturbed about her security when she returned in 2007,” Haider recalled.

Babar’s role in propping up and supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan was also pivotal. He made no bones about the fact that he was the father of the Taliban and commanded respect within the Taliban leadership. However, the sources say, Babar looked at Taliban as a ‘strategic and political ally’, not an organisation he was ideologically connected to, and believed a Taliban government could help Pakistan strategically.

Babar’s connection with Afghanistan spanned several decades. Several books, including Steve Coll’s Ghost Warsand Ahmed Rashid’s Descent into Chaos, mention that Babar trained Afghan leaders such as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmed Shah Massoud in the 1970s to launch a guerrilla movement.

In his twilight years, Babar distanced himself from the PPP over the issue of the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance – of which he was a bitter critic – choosing to leave the party and formally end his political career.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (51)

  • Hashmat Ali
    Jan 10, 2011 - 3:11PM

    Suggested headline “Architect of Taliban movement Gen Babar dies”Recommend

    Jan 10, 2011 - 3:11PM

    Allah tallah magferat farmye he was a Competed man !Recommend

  • MAD
    Jan 10, 2011 - 3:19PM

    Wasnt he the guy who tried to clean up Karachi (and got pretty close to achieving it too). Love him or hate him he was a true warrior. I saw this guy moving around Karachi in a non-bullet proof vehicle stopping at traffic lights at a time when every gangster in Karachi was after his head.Recommend

  • mashiat-ur-rehman
    Jan 10, 2011 - 3:41PM

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon. May Allah grant him JannatulFirdous. Ameen. He did great job for the peace of Karachi.Recommend

  • Jan 10, 2011 - 3:48PM

    I love him for a simple reason – he brought law & order in control in Karachi which no Interior Minister before or after him could so ! May God rest your soul in peace. You live in our hearts.Recommend

  • Zuhair
    Jan 10, 2011 - 3:56PM

    Guess who is the happiest? No marks for guessing though – I really miss him – what contrasting interior ministers we have had – one Naseerullah Babar and the other Rehman MalikRecommend

  • A
    Jan 10, 2011 - 4:05PM

    His photographs are shown in which he was drilling the bodies of MQMer. Now where is your so called humanity?Recommend

  • Shoaib Bangash
    Jan 10, 2011 - 4:14PM

    Ina lilah e wa ina lilahe rajeoon

    God bless him, he was a man of honor, courage and strength. I hope and wish we could have more men like him.Recommend

  • Ahsanullah Mehsud
    Jan 10, 2011 - 4:35PM

    May Allah bless his soul. His services will be remembered always. Recommend

  • Ahsanullah Mehsud
    Jan 10, 2011 - 4:39PM

    I wish he had been our interior minister in these crisis.Recommend

  • Khorrum G
    Jan 10, 2011 - 5:25PM

    May Allah Almighty grant him Junnat Al Firdos…ameen. I met him about 18-19months ago and he though he was weak his force of personality shone through…subhanallah. When I was married he also came from Peshawar to offer his congrats to my wife and I for our wedding which he was unable to attend due to his wife’s ill health at the time.

    His house is a testament to the marvellous service he dedicated his life to…to the protection of his motherland. In this he was unstinting with his reslove to create a better Pakistan for all….for the great and good….for the rich and poor…for the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

    My father-in-law always saw him as a father rather than an elder brother because he sponsored, mentored him during his youth…..so I am sure now he feels the need to repay his brother with all that he can physically do. I pray that Allah Almighty gives him the strength to do what needs to be done.

    A remarkable man…. a giant on the political scene of Pakistan…a family man who helped all that he came into contact with and stood always by his principles.

    I for one am very saddened by this news which my wife conveyed to me this morning.



  • HS
    Jan 10, 2011 - 5:59PM

    Hope God makes him accountable for his crimes….Recommend

  • Munawar
    Jan 10, 2011 - 6:50PM

    Babar single handedly captured an entire Indian company of soldiers over 70 POWs, when we accidentally landed, via parachute, in Indian Territory.

    And he was such a brave person that he was spotted without bullet proof jacket, and guards in Karachi while he was in charge of operation cleanup Recommend

  • Sara
    Jan 10, 2011 - 6:53PM

    May Allah rest his soul in peace.Recommend

  • shah nawaz khan
    Jan 10, 2011 - 7:09PM

    he was hero during that time when he launch operation in karachi and irredicate the crimunal people from karachi Recommend

  • KK
    Jan 10, 2011 - 7:46PM

    Rest in peace.. Altaf bhai must be relieved.Recommend

  • Khorrum G
    Jan 11, 2011 - 12:17AM

    To all those who are ‘judging’ him….we have no right to….Allah Almighty is the judge. I knew him personally….so I at least can say what I kew of him, especially through my father-in-law, his younger brother.

    The real shame is, and I think some of the comments here seem to demonstrate that, Pakistan is….and at least for the forseeable future is wrought with sectarianism….religious, ethnic division..etc…

    All I will say is that General Babar NEVER took any bribes and attempted to install the rule of law within the country….for that he deserves the respect of the nation.

    Please refrain from making comments which serve to belittle his efforts.

    Wasalaam and may Allah guide us all to the truth and to serve Allah Almighty…ameen to all my brother and sisters within Pakistan and outside.Recommend

  • Ali
    Jan 11, 2011 - 1:51AM

    This foreign tool created the Taliban under CIA aegis. His sordid “achievements” will haunt Pakistan till its last days. Recommend

    Jan 11, 2011 - 2:22AM

    he was a good soldier,administrator and politician. may his soul rest in eternal peace.Recommend

  • Jan 11, 2011 - 3:43AM

    He is at a better place, I hope so.Recommend

  • Maria
    Jan 11, 2011 - 4:52AM

    No one can deny the bravery of this man who fought like a tiger for Pakistan when he accomplished a superhuman feat in defeating and capturing the Indians. He may have been heavy handed in his role as a civilian administrator in later years but he brought relative peace and stability to Karachi when anti state criminals were causing trouble. If we had a few more Naseerullah Babars, the whole country would be cleansed of criminal elements.Recommend

  • amjad
    Jan 11, 2011 - 9:08AM

    He did not bring law and order, No need to shed tear for him. Let Almighty be the judge.Recommend

  • messiah
    Jan 11, 2011 - 11:06AM

    the youth swallower…
    RIP… may Allah have
    mercy on your troubled soul…
    may the people you killed forgive you…Recommend

  • Talha
    Jan 11, 2011 - 2:11PM

    ‘Taliban Architect’

    Says it all doesn’t it.Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar
    Jan 11, 2011 - 2:17PM

    RIP Gen Babar and thanks for the taliban….and the rest of it…Recommend

  • Atif
    Jan 11, 2011 - 2:44PM

    May Allah rest his soul in peace, a truly brave soldier, excellent interior minister, did splendid job especially for Karachi. Recommend

  • Arif Hamid
    Jan 11, 2011 - 3:17PM

    Although he has a tuff time with MQM but in a telephonic conversation with anchor Dr. shahid masood he admitted and appreciated that now MQM is becoming a national level party. (Allah talah maff kernay waloun ko ziyada pasand keta hay)Recommend

  • Ali Islam
    Jan 11, 2011 - 3:23PM

    Although the deceased was full of racism against urdu speakers. But since MQM has forgiven him, I too forgive him. May Allah bless the departed soulRecommend

  • Atif
    Jan 11, 2011 - 3:49PM

    Racism ? he was the only MAN to confront MQM, I salute him and it is advisable not to include all urdu speakers in MQM. Recommend

  • wajid khan
    Jan 11, 2011 - 4:19PM

    ina lilahe wa ina elahee rajioun God give piece to his soulRecommend

  • RizwanTKhan
    Jan 11, 2011 - 4:35PM

    Tribune should not keep a bias tone. The title is very bias. I am not a supporter of the deceased but lets not forget that then Pk govt must have ordered him to do so. Lets not always punish the face but the source of the issue should be reprimanded.Recommend

  • Kinzah Raffat
    Jan 11, 2011 - 4:42PM

    Just one question to all the lovers and worshipers of the hero: How many of you grew up in Karachi and lived in the danger zone at the time of his rule?Recommend

  • A Pakistani
    Jan 11, 2011 - 5:41PM

    Starting as a brave soldier trained to fight foreign enemies of Pakistan, the gallant fighter slipped on to becoming a shrewed politician and chose to fiught on the streets of Karachi in 1992.

    History is the best judge. But we have suppressed our own people Sindhis (urban), Bengalis (1971), Baloch (1948, 1976, 2005-10) and now Pakhtuns bearing the brunt.

    History has repeated itself and Operation Clean-up is the order of the day in KP.

    Do unto others as you would have others to do unto you. Recommend

  • Amer
    Jan 11, 2011 - 6:24PM

    Its a shame that ET choose to put a title like this one. Just Pathetic to say that least!Recommend

  • Khorrumg
    Jan 12, 2011 - 3:47AM

    To Ali, Waqas…all the rest of you MQM ‘supporters’…errr I am Urdu speaking and I am related!! Dear oh dear….the problem with Pakistan is just this…we are divided on people such as General Babar….even The Founder, Qaid e Azam gets it from all quarters!!! I mean it just shows the character of the nation….we lack the integrity and moral resolve to tackle the country’s many problems and see things from a purely bias point of view.

    The problem is that the political system keeps churning out devils, until they are rooted out we as a nation will never move forward, on the contrary, the situation will keep on repeating its self.

    Whatever one may think of General Babar, he was a man of great integrity. Is it not ironic that many of the comments above fail to recognize his actions in wars against India. Its amazing how people vilify him for what he did whilst he was Interior Minister. The problem is that organisations such as the MQM….Nawaz Sharif’s lot…..the PPP (which General Babar aligned himself for political expediency) are NOT your normal run of the mill political parties BUT rather represent feudal landlords…the Zamindars of old. The Zamindars were the very people who the British allied themselves to in the early Colonial period and who caused the greatest man-made famine in India…..Yes…these parties represent the Zamindars…they are the real enemy of Pakistan…..and will continue to be.

    Yes..it is true, General Babar was involved in high level negotiations and may OR may not have been responsible for creating that Frankenstein monster…the Taliban…..BUT in all honesty that such a movement took root and spread in certain areas shows the prepensity for Pakistan people to be so easily led…..in short it proves a lack of character, a lack of understanding and belief in Islam. I mean MANY people in Pakistan adhere to Islam in a completely dogmatic manner and are Muslim essentially by default.

    Take care all and Salaams and duas to all my brothers and sisters in Islam


  • sohaib
    Jan 12, 2011 - 4:03AM

    I salute him for standing up to the terror of MQM. It was a job well done. Recommend

  • sohaib
    Jan 12, 2011 - 4:05AM

    Oh by the way, being an architect of Taliban is not a bad thing.If the liberals would allow me, it was in the context of the situation in Afghanistan at that time and that was the right thing to do. The leader of the ‘free world’ is also finding ways to talk to the same Taliban while keeping their pride intact. Recommend

  • Bilal Ahmed
    Jan 12, 2011 - 9:35AM

    Architect of Taliban Philosophy, Just Great, Save Karachi, But destroy whole of Pakistan, as seen today.
    Who is bleeding now, Naseerulllah Babar or Pakistan?Recommend

  • Waqas
    Jan 12, 2011 - 10:41AM

    The title is misleading and is doesn’t do justice to a brave soldier and man of principles.

    ET, pls be objective and not judgmental!

    May his soul rest in peace!Recommend

  • Jan 12, 2011 - 10:54AM

    The title when I originally posted my comments was different then the one I saw today. In Diplomacy nothing is permanent. To paraphrase Lord Palmerston – ‘Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests’.

    At that time Talibs were our requirement just because we wanted ourselves to be safe from the North Western side. Musharraf came in & turned the tables when he got the so called “(in)famous call”. Recommend

  • Tony Singh
    Jan 12, 2011 - 1:08PM

    @Munnawar Strange! A single man captures 70 Indians, another downs 4Indian planes in 2 minutes and yet 90k Pakistan soldiers surrender to 3k Indians? Does not add up. or does it?Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar
    Jan 12, 2011 - 1:48PM

    @Khorrumg….find it interesting that you immediately assumed that a critic of Gen Babar….would be an MQM supporter – iam definitely not the latter although i am the former….integrity or not, he was responsible for the killing of a lot of people, party to a conflict that turned my home town into a warzone…and his ‘gift’ that keeps on ‘giving’ the taliban whom he referred to as ‘my boys’….not to mention the surrender to indian forces…..historically not very pretty reading.Recommend

  • K-R-Siddiquie
    Jan 12, 2011 - 3:35PM

    My Dear Khurrum G, I can understand that this loss is personal more than anything but there simply no need to clarify his stance on whatever he did in his life time. I dont believe that any human is capable of pure evil or pure goodness there always shades of grey and your justification only falls on deaf ears. My roots go as deep as the blood that was shed for this country, I am a proud Pakistani and a pure Urdu speaking, My grandparents at 16 years of age left India and everything they knew of and possessed to come to Pakistan. That may be the story of so many others. My grandfathers fought in the ’65 war and the ’71. But i certainly dnt agree with the bloodbath in Karachi in the 90s. I grew up there..Have you ever heard of the casualty of wars? Thats what all those kids were back then, held hostage in their own homes. Well its not up to anyone to judge him and its easier to criticise the past when all is said and done. My point is that he is not a BAD man or a GOOD one…Hez a man who made some choices that most people got hurt from. He and u cant give me my childhood back can you? You cant even apologize enough for the pain we went through…May his soul rest in peace..Its Allah’s to judge and ours to take lesson from it. He was only human. Recommend

  • Raja Arsalan Khan
    Jan 12, 2011 - 10:47PM

    The Express Tribune is spot on. Why some of the readers are shying to accept the “universal truth” that he was one of the main architects of Taliban. He might have been a brave man but it doesn’t mean that he should have propped up the evil Taliban. The problem with military (extremist is an extended form) minds is that they are devoid of having an holistic look. The braves may win the battles but that’s all. The military is meant to protect the society and not to engage the people in a perpetual war. It means that if people somehow “devise” a way out of conflict there would be no military. The strategic depth like notions are not aimed at delivering goods to the people but for extending the expanding the military’s dominance.
    The mess jihadists and their mentors have created is an open secret and if we start justifying the “indoctrinated injunctions”, the only possible future is destruction.
    As the story suggested that “Babar looked at Taliban as a ‘strategic and political ally’, not an organisation he was ideologically connected to, and believed a Taliban government could help Pakistan strategically,” makes it clear that he was a senseless uniform-man having no link whatsoever with the society and its mechanics. The fact that he was unable to grasp the simple reality that “vagabonds” don’t believe in frontiers and control or authority, required to run the nation state system, makes it clear, in my opinion, that he committed a sin for which he and other “retired intellectuals” would never be pardoned on the Doomsday. Recommend

  • Khawaja Faraz
    Jan 13, 2011 - 10:49AM

    wow infact we are saying that Benazir Bhutto was the Principal Accused of creating Taliban and geeting herself killed by people she created?Recommend

  • decart_info@yahoo.co.uk
    Jan 13, 2011 - 11:15PM

    Dear Mr Arslan Khan and Mr Siddique,

    Many many thanks for your comments. Might I say that I do consider your comments with the greatest of respect and it is your life to state exactly what you feel. My only concern is that the ultimate judge is Allah Almighty. Only he knows what is/was in a person’s heart.

    Could I also suggest that any discussionconcerning Pakistan is problematic, as your yourselves state you were living in Pakistan during the time General Babar was in office as Interior Minsiter. Therefore I could not even attempt to describe the situation in Karachi at the time.

    I would however suggest General Babar represents the mots powerful institution in Pakistan, the Armed Forces. Whether we as Pakistani’s like to admit it OR not, this is the reason there is STILL a Pakistan. Most recently, due to Pakistan’s apparent nuclear capibility, this has served to further enhance the stature of the Army allowing to further exploit the country creating a paralell economy with their own schools, banks, hospitals…insititutions…..showing the level of wealth they have subsequently accrued in the intervening years.

    With respect to General Babar he stands alone, since he lived his life in a fairly modest house and did NOT take any bribes OR acted in a corrupt manner. My recent experience of Pakistan is that Rawlpindi especially has taken on the appearance of a barrack city and the lavish houses of the officer elite demonstrate how much wealth they have thus made in recent years.

    Mr Arslan Khan, though I partly agree what you state, that the Armed forces are devoid of holistic actions, this rings especially true with the larger part of the ruling officer-class elite. General Babar did however to attempt to resolve the situation with ‘strong-arm’ tactics, that he met ‘fire with fire’….. a rarther gungho appraoch to the situation. Yes, I agree many many people died, many innocent, so I cannot support his actions for killing people. I will however say the situation in Pakistan is so difficult now as it was then that one can only be guided to Allah…..to act in an Islamic way.


    And May Allah protect us with his mercy


  • Feb 16, 2011 - 1:15PM

    @Tony Singh – Not strange at all that the readers here hold the man in high esteem for the wars against India. In their text books, Pakistan won the 1965 war.

    By some strange convoluted logic, they acceded to India’s (the defeated party) demands at Tashkent. Bhutto took advantage of this and got Ayub khan out of the top job. All this eventually led to 1971 when Bhutto did not agree to work with Mujibur and after the defeat of 1971 despite the heroics of this man Babar – the agencies decided to Islamise the country. Then enter Zia, the Afghan war, the taliban…Babar is a legend. Recommend

  • Salman
    Feb 16, 2011 - 6:29PM

    That is an absurd and illogical statement made by you. An act of supervision of the killing of innocent youth in an effort to wipe out an ethnic population was disgusting on the part of the so called ‘Babar hero.’ Instead of praising the many people who brought pride to Pakistan including the likes of Agha Hasan Abedi and so on, we commend ruthless barbarians. An architect of Islamic extremists, i wish his soul be forgiven, for it is he who is responsible for the Pakistani troubles brought on by Taliban. An army operation against citizens of Pakistan is a lesson to be learnt again and again by the people. It happened in Dhaka resulting in Fall of Dhaka. The same perpetrators are now bent on carrying such acts in Balochistan. We have never learnt from history and have continuously been fed lies.
    He may have been a brave man, but his actions were no good. They resulted in disharmony and in the creation of a vile monster feeding on the blood of innocent souls aka THE TALIBAN.Recommend

  • Ali
    Feb 16, 2011 - 6:47PM

    That is an absurd and illogical statement made by you. An act of supervision of the killing of innocent youth in an effort to wipe out an ethnic population was disgusting on the part of the so called ‘Babar hero.’ Instead of praising the many people who brought pride to Pakistan including the likes of Agha Hasan Abedi and so on, we commend ruthless barbarians. An architect of Islamic extremists, i wish his soul be forgiven, for it is he who is responsible for the Pakistani troubles brought on by Taliban. An army operation against citizens of Pakistan is a lesson to be learnt again and again by the people. It happened in Dhaka resulting in Fall of Dhaka. The same perpetrators are now bent on carrying such acts in Balochistan. We have never learnt from history and have continuously been fed lies.
    He may have been a brave man, but his actions were no good. They resulted in disharmony and in the creation of a vile monster feeding on the blood of innocent souls aka THE TALIBAN.Recommend

  • Hanif Awan 831682 831682
    Feb 17, 2011 - 10:43AM

    LATE NASEERULLAH BABER was a great personality of Pakistan n PPP. INNA LILLAH E WA INNA ILEHE RAJE OON.We will remember you always THE GENERAL of all fields of LIFE.Recommend

  • K G
    Feb 25, 2011 - 5:30PM

    Dear Mr Ali,

    Asalaam alaikum, many thanks for your contribution. Having just retruned from Pakistan yesterday after having visited General Sahib’s grave and attended his chaal- ees- wahn I had the opportunity to meet and talk to many people. I also met Waseem Sajaad, the Chairman of the Senate so got an ‘insiders’ view on whats going on.

    Basically the problems in Pakistan, as we know are many and varied. The thing is that Pakistan is and has always been divided along ethnic, cultural, sectarian, religious, social lines. As the comments above prove we can’t even decide whether a person did good for the country, though everyone…and I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My view is that organistaions such as the MQM, PPL, PMQL all…all of the so-called ‘political’ parties actually represent such vested interests. Though General Babar allied himself to the PPP it was really to obtain a political footing for his own Pathaan people. As such even this demonstrates that people really only chose to represent their ethnic, cultural group, such is the system in Pakistan. Really the situtaion in Karachi, at present is that the MQM and Pathaans are vying for economic and political control over the city. In the midst of this are the PPP who as always are attempting to forge their own foothold in the city by allying themsleves to the pathaans.

    The problem is futher exacerbated by the USA who let of the odd bomb or two and blame it on the Pakistan Taleban and Baitullah Masood. Thats not to say that the Taleban are not responsible for bombings. However, I have first hand information that one such bomb was planted by men dressed in unusual uniforms, armed with highly sophisticated equipment and weaponery-possibly Blackwater/CIA operatives using ‘our’ country for their own purposes (Raymond Davis etc???). What this shows is that Pakistani blood is cheap, whether its spilt by our own people OR by foreign agents. This shows a weakness in character in our people…..a people so divided…so much at odds with one another that really…yes really Pakistan is being pulled apart due to the lack of character amongst our race and due to their greed, lack of scruples personal ambition.

    Its a damning indictment that Pakistan is economically under-developed and in a situation of constant political turmoil, yet its larger neighbour India, is due to become the next economic super-power……a tragedy….for the poor people of Pakistan, that those disgraceful people are ever present……these people are destroying the country and are milking away its wealth and resources for their own unquenchable thirst for money…WHILST people starve….scratch out a meak existence…

    What a sad sad country….that is what I saw…the poverty….the despair in the poor’s eyes…whilst these disgraceful charcaters and their family’s continue to rule and live it up….

    YET the irony is that people still continue to support such people………ALL of these people are a disgrace since they feel they have a god-given right to rule over Pakistan or to influence events there.

    Thats why General Babar was so different, that he did NOT have econmic motives..he may/or may not have killed certain people, that I cannot say for sure….maybe others can say since they may have witnessed….

    The Pakistan Taleban’s activities have also ONLY got worse since the Laal Masjid incident….before that much of what was happening in Pakistan was confined to the NW frontier.

    One last point is that the army has a lot to answer for…..no army in world has so many quangos and institutions….the Pakistan army is running a parallel economy…even the most lowly officer lives or resides in opulence….what a travisty…in comparison when I saw General Babar’s house…and his grave I was amazed how modest it all was….

    Anyway…I must say salaams to all of my friends here and thank them for their comments..please take care and may Allah Almighty all protect us and our nation with his blessings and mercy…AMEEEN!!!!!!!!!!!


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