Former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, died of a brain haemorrhage late Saturday night.
Television reports, citing a member of his family, confirmed the news of his death. His daughter Uzma Gul said that after suffering a brain haemorrhage on Saturday, he was taken to the Combined Military Hospital Murree, where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival, adding that body would be brought back home to Rawalpindi for burial. Details of his funeral will be decided after his son Abdullah arrives from Turkey.
In a statement released by the army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations, “Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif has expressed his condolences on the sad demise of Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul”.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan expressed grief over the former spymaster’s death.
Premier Nawaz prayed for eternal peace for the departed soul and said: “May God bless the deceased with countless blessings in the Hereafter.” He expressed condolences with the bereaved family to bear the loss.
Lt Gen Gul served as chief of the country’s premier spy agency between 1987 and 1989. He was a key figure at the time the Soviet Union was engaged in a war with Afghanistan. He was one of the leaders who took part in training the Afghan Mujahideen to fight off the Soviet forces.
Hamid Gul was born in Sargodha on November 20, 1936. He was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 1958 in the Armoured Corps (19 Lancers). He was a tank commander at the Chawinda front during the 1965 war with India.
Between 1972 and 1976, he directly served under Gen Ziaul Haq as a battalion commander, when Gen Zia was the general officer commanding, 1st Armoured Division and Commander, II Corps at Multan. He was promoted to brigadier in 1978 and steadily rose to be the commander of the 1st Armoured Division, Multan in 1980.
He was then sent to the General Headquarters as the director general military intelligence under Gen Zia, who then nominated him to be the ISI chief, succeeding Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman in March 1987.
He was later replaced as the ISI commander by the then premier Benazir Bhutto in May 1989 and was transferred as the commander, II Corps in Multan. In this capacity, he conducted the Zarb-e-Momin military exercise in November-December 1989.
Gen Asif Nawaz, upon taking the reins of the Pakistan Army in August 1991, had Gul transferred as the DG Heavy Industries Taxila. He, however, refused to take the assignment on the account that it wasn’t in line with his military training. He developed differences with the then army chief and was retired from the army in 1992.
During his meritorious service with the Pakistan Army from 1958 to 1992, he was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the Sitara-e-Basalat and the Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Military).
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.