Pakistan spy chief who helped US covert activities in Soviet-Afghan war dies

Hamid GulGeneral Hamid Gul, a controversial Pakistani spymaster who helped facilitate America’s covert involvement during the closing stages of the Soviet-Afghan war, has died at the age of 72. General Gul entered military service in 1956, aged 20, and saw action in two of Pakistan’s wars with India. He rose to power within the military through his close association with General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who became Pakistan’s sixth president in 1977. In 1987, shortly before President Zia died in a plane crash, General Gul was promoted to director of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, which is known as ISI. In that capacity, he oversaw the closing stages of the Soviet-Afghan war, which had begun nearly a decade later and gradually led to a resounding defeat for the Soviets.

As head of the ISI, General Gul helped the intelligence agencies of several countries, including those of Saudi Arabia and the United States, engage covertly in the war taking place across the Hindu Kush. In particular, he helped facilitate the transfer of foreign funds and weaponry to Sunni mujahedeen forces who were fighting the Soviets. It was from within the ranks of these forces that groups like al-Qaeda and the Taliban later emerged.

General Gul was never shy about his close operational links with the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda. He maintained close contact with al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and with the late Mullah Muhammad Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban. However, at the conclusion of the Soviet-Afghan War, Washington gradually disassociated itself from Sunni fundamentalist groups, including the Taliban. But General Gul maintained his public support for Muslim-inspired militant groups, among them Lashkar-e-Taiba, which operates in Indian-controlled Kashmir. As America began distancing itself from its former Afghan allies, and siding instead with India, General Gul’s relations with Washington worsened dramatically. In 2009, the General gave one of many controversial interviews to the media, in which he condemned the increasing military and political collaboration between the US and India. He noted that “the Americans and Israel [are] hell-bent” on positioning India to the role of overseer of “60 per cent of the world’s trade [which] passes through the Indian Ocean”, including transport routes of “Gulf oil, bound for China and Japan”.

In later years, General Gul became a vocal critic of US foreign policy in the Middle East and Central Asia, spoke out against the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and publicly supported the Taliban insurgency against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan. He is survived by a widow and three children.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 20 August 2015 | Permalink

Pakistanis question validity, timing, of Wikileaks files

Hamid Gul

Hamid Gul

Senior Pakistani government and intelligence officials have reacted angrily to leaked reports, which suggest that Pakistani spy agencies are secretly working with the Taliban to oppose US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. The accusations have emerged as part of the largest document leak in US military history, which was made public on Sunday by anti-secrecy activist website Wikileaks. Among the nearly 92,000 intelligence and military files disclosed by Wikileaks are several reports suggesting that General Hamid Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate in the late 1980s, is among a number of high-profile Pakistanis who regularly help the Taliban organize strikes against US-led coalition troops and their supporters in Afghanistan. But on Monday General Gul, who is a well-known critic of the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, vehemently rejected the leaked reports, calling them “a pack of lies” and “utterly wrong”. Read more of this post

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Analysis: Pakistan’s former spy chief sees wider geopolitical games in region

Hamid Gul

Hamid Gul

Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, the controversial former Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has expressed the view that Pakistan’s nuclear disarmament is the ultimate aim of the US-Indian alliance. Speaking to reporters in Islamabad, Gul said India’s insistence on charging the ISI with complicity in the 2008 Mumbai attack is “part of a greater conspiracy to discredit the body for being an extension of the Pakistan Army” and eventually questioning the latter’s role as guardian of the country’s nuclear arsenal. “Once the Army and the ISI are demolished [the US and India] will reach out to our nuclear capability saying it is not is safe hands”, said the retired Lieutenant General. In discussing the increasing military and political collaboration between the US and India, Gul noted that “the Americans and Israel [are] hell-bent that India should be given pre-eminence in the region”, acting as the dominant regional power. He described such a scenario as essentially positioning India to the role of overseer of “60 per cent of the world’s trade [which] passes through the Indian Ocean”, including transport routes of “Gulf oil, bound for China and Japan, [which] will be under the shadow of India’s sole nuclear power”. Read more of this post

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