The death of an ideologue

Published: August 18, 2015
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A file picture taken on November 4, 2007 shows Hamid Gul in a police van in Islamabad.  PHOTO: AFP

A file picture taken on November 4, 2007 shows Hamid Gul in a police van in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

The death of Lt General (retd) Hamid Gul will not result in universal mourning. For some, he was the supreme patriot, for others the man who laid the foundations of many of the troubles we experience today. He has been labelled as “the father of the Taliban” and was certainly instrumental in their rise to power in Afghanistan, but in reality, his role was more nurturing than creative in any fatherly sense. He was a conservative ideologue to the end, much favoured by right-wing TV anchors and the religious political parties. They will mourn his passing. Internationally, both India and Afghanistan view him with a less than favourable eye. He was the man who took up the mantle of the Ziaul Haq era and carried it forward to the modern context to the delight of some and the disapprobation of others. His role in the formation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad before the 1988 elections to rival the PPP is well-known, making him all the more controversial. He was a man to inspire polarity, and the echoes of his deeds in life are going to resonate in Pakistan for a long time, such is the depth of his influence.

After his retirement as head of the premier intelligence agency, the ISI (which he ran for two years 1987-89), he found a second career as a pundit-at-large and all-purpose security consultant. He also found politics in the late 1990s and remained close to the Taliban until the end of his life. His very considerable following in Pakistan is closely allied to the drift towards extremism of the last 20 years, and whether his death will do anything to arrest that trend is too early to say. For many, his espousal of a radical ideology is exactly what Pakistan needed to lead it away from the swamps it perennially inhabits; for others, Hamid Gul was the creator of the very swamps which others see his ideology as leading us out of. He will remain a controversial figure, his legacy differently interpreted by all sides, nationally and internationally. How much of a patriot he really was, only history will decide.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Bairooni Haath
    Aug 18, 2015 - 5:40AM

    History has already decided. It is waiting for Pakistanis to get a clue!Recommend

  • Androoni Haath
    Aug 18, 2015 - 8:06AM

    @Bairooni Haath:
    Just to help you to understand that Pakistan is a very resilient state and society.So get over Pakistan phobia. If you are an Indian, we have been listening these noises since partition. I also wonder if this newspaper is published in Pakistan or do its moderator/s actually read the comments. Recommend

  • SuperNeo
    Aug 18, 2015 - 8:28AM

    Zaid is arrested in KSa and gul is gone , good days of paksitan are ahead.Recommend

  • Daaya Haath
    Aug 18, 2015 - 1:06PM

    @Androoni Haath – “. If you are an Indian, we have been listening these noises since partition.”

    Did you not notice history pass you by, after those disastrous 1965,1971,1999 wars with us, or your country breaking into two in 1971 or the mess its in today?
    Listen carefully… the voices you’ve been listening since partition, do mean something….Recommend

  • Mayuresh
    Aug 18, 2015 - 3:16PM

    Some of your other editors were much more forthcoming in their opinion. Looks like tribune is not that unequivocal about the contribution of this man. Editors are supposed to opine not tell people what everyone thinks. If the newspaper like this cann’t say it as it is, what can one say about Recommend

  • Androoni Haath
    Aug 18, 2015 - 6:29PM

    @Daaya Haath:
    Hope you understand the process of state formation. Such happenings are part of the process. Yes, we have been through crises imposed by our well-wishing neighbors but train kept on going and will go further. By the way what was the number of your war casualties in all the wars that you mentioned particularly Kargil?Recommend

  • Union Jack
    Aug 19, 2015 - 1:45AM

    @Androoni Haath:
    The only reason you do not know the Pakistani casualty in Kargil is because your then army chief Mr. Musharaff until very recently “denied” that there were any Pakistani army involved. We Indians have to burry them. and the figure was not very impressive for Paskistani.Recommend

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