Islamabad: Hamid Gul, a former chief of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency ISI and a bitter critic of India, has died of brian haemorrhage, media reports said.
Gul, 79, died in the Combined Military Hospital in Murree in Punjab late on Saturday after being taken there in a critical condition, Dawn and other Pakistani media reported.
Gul, who quit the Pakistan Army in disgust after being shunted to an inconsequential post in 1991, headed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from March 1987 to May 1989.
This was when Gul, in close collaboration with the American CIA, oversaw the bloody Mujahideen war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan, ultimately resulting in a humiliating defeat for Moscow.
After the Soviet withdrawal, Gul, still in the army, shifted his attention to Jammu and Kashmir and played a role in Islamabad’s proxy war by separatist guerrillas.
In later years, the US bitterly opposed his role in Islamist affairs but he remained defiant.
Born in Punjab, Gul joined the Pakistan Army in 1954 and took part in both the 1965 and the 1971 wars against India, a country he loved to hate.
In November-December 1989, he organised the Zarb-e-Momin, the biggest military exercise in Pakistan after the 1971 war.
In 1991, then Pakistan Army chief General Asif Nawaz transferred Gul to a minor post. Gul refused to take up the assignment and retired.
In an October 2012 interview, he famously called Pakistani politicians corrupt and admitted to creating the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI).
The IJI was allegedly created to prevent late prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from winning the 1990 parliamentary elections.
He frequently attended rallies of the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (or Defence of Pakistan Council), a coalition of around 40 religious and political parties.
He held hardline views on Pakistan, Taliban, the US and India.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan tweeted: “Sad to learn of Gen Gul’s death. Whether one agreed with his views or not, he was a patriot.”