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Hamid Gul’s Pakistan legacy: Taliban blowback

Peaceful Civilian

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For many critics of the Pakistani security establishment, Lieut. Gen. Hamid Gul personified many of its flaws. Gul, who died Saturday of a brain hemorrhage, served as head of Pakistan’s pre-eminent spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, for just two years, between 1987 and 1989. Yet, the impact of the policies he initiated — supporting radical armed groups beyond the country’s borders and destabilizing democracy at home — continues to be felt to this day.

Gul became head of the ISI amid momentous events, as Pakistan took a leading role in supporting the anti-Soviet “jihad” next door in Afghanistan, funneling cash and weapons from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to the Afghan fighters who cast their struggle as one pitting Muslim believers against godless communists. That fight drew thousands of fighters from across the Muslim world, among them Osama bin Laden.

As the head of the ISI in 1989, when Soviet forces withdrew in defeat, Gul claimed victory. A superpower had been humbled, reaffirming Afghanistan’s reputation as the “graveyard of empires” and presaging the collapse of the Soviet bloc. In his elegantly appointed home in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, Gul proudly displayed a fragment of the Berlin Wall that had been a gift from the German government after reunification. The inscription saluted the man “who helped deliver the first blow.”

Gul took that extravagant tribute to heart, coming to see himself as a man who had played an outsized role in shaping the course of history. The defeat of Soviet forces and their Afghan protégé had certainly marked a rare military success for Pakistan. Like other soldiers of his generation, Gul was a veteran of the ruinous 1971 war against India, Pakistan’s worst-ever defeat which led to massive territorial losses as East Pakistan became the independent nation of Bangladesh.

If the goal was to efface that humiliation, the success of the Afghan mujahideen as an unconventional fighting force against the Soviets prompted Gul and his colleagues to try the same tactic against India in the disputed territory of Kashmir. From 1989 onward, a range of armed groups backed by Pakistan infiltrated across the Line of Control, which divides Pakistani-administered Kashmir from Indian-administered Kashmir, to join the separatist insurgency. The fighting raged on and off for several years, petering out in 2004, when Pakistan’s then-military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf pursued peace talks with India.

It was near the end of Musharraf’s rule that Gul’s controversial legacy boomeranged. The fighters nurtured by the Pakistani security establishment to fight proxy wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir spawned a new generation that turned inward and began targeting the Pakistani state and the Pakistani people within the country’s borders. Since 2007, an estimated 60,000 people have died as result of the campaign of violence inside Pakistan waged by the Pakistani Taliban and its affiliates.

Pakistan’s purpose in Afghanistan had been to secure it “strategic depth,” a way to prevent Pakistan being encircled by India and its allies by ensuring a friendly regime in Kabul — in the form of the Afghan Taliban starting in 1996.

That policy is now in tatters. Gen. Ehsan-ul-Haq, another retired ISI chief, said publicly in late 2013 that instead of Pakistan enjoying strategic depth in Afghanistan, it was the Taliban who enjoyed strategic depth in Pakistan.

Gul never recanted his support for the “Afghan jihad,” pointing out that the U.S. administrations of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan had blessed that war. Gul often recalled how he was feted at U.S. Embassy parties in Islamabad, even making the outlandish claim — never corroborated by anyone else — that he had seen bin Laden there. Gul saw the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001 as a betrayal.

The decade of war that followed in Afghanistan gave Gul a new career as a sought-after TV pundit, allowing him to present himself as an omniscient spymaster, pedalling conspiracy theories as political analysis. One of his favorite tropes was to claim that 9/11 has been a plot hatched to target the Muslim world, particularly its only nuclear power, Pakistan: “9/11 is the justification, Afghanistan is a waystation, Pakistan is their final destination.”

Gul blasted Musharraf’s decision to ally with the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror,” claiming it had mortgaged Pakistan’s independence to the Americans. In 2007, the former spymaster even joined street protests led by lawyers against Musharraf’s rule, denouncing the very military rule he had once enforced during an earlier phase.

When Gul was still ISI chief, in 1988, a mysterious plane crash killed Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, ending 11 years of military rule. Elections were called, and democracy returned to Pakistan with the election of Benazir Bhutto as the country’s first woman prime minister. But Gul and other generals were deeply suspicious of Bhutto. They had hanged her father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1979, two years after toppling him in a coup. While the generals had deemed her left-wing father too hostile to the West, they saw Benazir as too close to it.

In fact, Gul openly boasted about his (failed) efforts through the ISI to muster a coalition of right-wing and religious parties to prevent her election in 1988. When Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 2007, she accused Gul of being one of three people plotting to assassinate her — she was murdered in an attack on her convoy in December of that year.

In recent years, Gul had become something of a bogeyman for the West, India and Afghanistan. In 2010, a series of Afghan war logs published by Wikileaks alleged that he was still actively supporting elements of the Afghan Taliban, despite his advanced age — an impression he did little to discourage. He was always eager to oblige the stream of Western journalists arriving at his home in search of lurid quotes suggesting Pakistan was an unfaithful ally, affecting a faintly sinister air. As much as he relished his infamy in the West, he enjoyed meeting Westerners, conversing in English, and wearing western suits and ties.

Gul has been described as a religious extremist, but he wasn’t an especially observant man. He never wore a beard, nor did he quote passages from scripture. He was more of a nationalist, driven by a desire to reclaim the faded glories of Islam’s former empire and push back against what he deemed Western encroachment. He dreamed of nuclear-armed Pakistan as leading a great Islamic power, but his legacy is an increasingly troubled Pakistan, its ever-fragile democracy besieged by a rising tide of armed and unarmed radicalism at home.

Hamid Gul Pakistan ISI Taliban Blowback | Al Jazeera America
 

simple Brain

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His dream of capturing Kashmir never get fulfilled. As he was active in TV news channels and barking like street dogs everywhere, Everyone in Pakistan should ask him what he did to capture Kashmir from India- Nothing. Only coming to News channels and barking like street dogs. He tried to use his brain too much for capturing Kashmir and in the result died of brain hemorrhage and direct went to HELL. So now keep dreaming in HELL.
you remind me of a street dog who gets fu* up by other dogs everyday. If he didn't do much, than what have you done with your life? You are one of those losers who see their mothers in red streets and smile at their pimps. Because they do not have the guts to do something good with their lives.
 

baajey

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you remind me of a street dog who gets fu* up by other dogs everyday. If he didn't do much, than what have you done with your life? You are one of those losers who see their mothers in red streets and smile at their pimps. Because they do not have the guts to do something good with their lives.
quite an imagination u have.

His dream of capturing Kashmir never get fulfilled. As he was active in TV news channels and barking like street dogs everywhere, Everyone in Pakistan should ask him what he did to capture Kashmir from India- Nothing. Only coming to News channels and barking like street dogs. He tried to use his brain too much for capturing Kashmir and in the result died of brain hemorrhage and direct went to HELL. So now keep dreaming in HELL.
leave him dude. the guy is dead. he was a patriot who did more harm than good to his country. if his countrymen dont see that, why do we need to point that out.
lastly, RIP to him.
 

Hussain Farooqui

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Countless accomplishments of ISI are no doubt appreciable. ISI saved the country many times from disasters. However, some of its blunders and failures are also evident. Failures are possible even with the American CIA. 9/11 incident is like a stigma on the history of the American CIA.

quite an imagination u have.


leave him dude. the guy is dead. he was a patriot who did more harm than good to his country. if his countrymen dont see that, why do we need to point that out.
lastly, RIP to him.
The only solution to Kashmir problem may be an amicable settlement between Bharat and Pakistan. The resources of both Bharat and Pakistan are heavily wasted on the Kashmir issue. Any amicable and agreeable solution may save a lot of resources for both.
 

baajey

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The only solution to Kashmir problem may be an amicable settlement between Bharat and Pakistan. The resources of both Bharat and Pakistan are heavily wasted on the Kashmir issue. Any amicable and agreeable solution may save a lot of resources for both.
u cant be any nearer to the truth my friend.
but the biggest hindrance between that to happen would be the greed from 3 countries....india , pak and china to some extent.
security is a main concern for india. it wont allow (and it mustn't) another afghanistan to prop up.
pakistan wont let go of kashmir because it feels india has the jugular vein (water, land contact with china among others).
china, if possible, would annex whole of south asia , saying it had trade contacts, zillions of years ago.
...
finally the ego of the above mentioned countries wont let us to find any credible solution.
...
and kashmiri say (not aspirations) in this whole issue is trampled by all mentioned.
 

Irfan Baloch

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Taliban are the legacy of Democratically elected and Western Darling Benazir Bhutto and her right hand man retired Gen Nasir- ullah and the American CIA chief .. the idea was not the sole brain child of Pakistan army, it was partner in it but not more not less than the secular demoractic party leader and the Americans and the idea was to bring stability and order in Afghanistan which was facing years of civil war after the fall of communist regime. everyone was killing everybody.. no one was an angel . Taliban delivered and unified the country and subdued their opponents
too bad that .. that the focus moved to middle east and they decided to host AL Qaeda chief (a former guest and ally of America). and rest as we know ... is .. history
 

punit

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Taliban are the legacy of Democratically elected and Western Darling Benazir Bhutto and her right hand man retired Gen Nasir- ullah and the American CIA chief .. the idea was not the sole brain child of Pakistan army, it was partner in it but not more not less than the secular demoractic party leader and the Americans and the idea was to bring stability and order in Afghanistan which was facing years of civil war after the fall of communist regime. everyone was killing everybody.. no one was an angel . Taliban delivered and unified the country and subdued their opponents
too bad that .. that the focus moved to middle east and they decided to host AL Qaeda chief (a former guest and ally of America). and rest as we know ... is .. history
will u let taliban rule Pakistan or part of Pakistan ?
 

Irfan Baloch

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will u let taliban rule Pakistan or part of Pakistan ?
what makes you think it is not already in place?
their Punjabi chapter is already political ally of Nawaz league and provides the electoral muscle by scaring and bullying away the opponents..

oh by the way.. would you like Hasina to setup Makti Bahami shop in Indian Bangal? and setup a Mukti rule there?
do tell
 

but-shikan

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Taliban are the legacy of Democratically elected and Western Darling Benazir Bhutto and her right hand man retired Gen Nasir- ullah and the American CIA chief .. the idea was not the sole brain child of Pakistan army, it was partner in it but not more not less than the secular demoractic party leader and the Americans and the idea was to bring stability and order in Afghanistan which was facing years of civil war after the fall of communist regime. everyone was killing everybody.. no one was an angel . Taliban delivered and unified the country and subdued their opponents
too bad that .. that the focus moved to middle east and they decided to host AL Qaeda chief (a former guest and ally of America). and rest as we know ... is .. history
OBL nothing but a stooge of CIA like Saddam which uses them as a bait, OBL was shifted to Afghanistan by CIA since Talibans are rapidly growing and learning diplomacy they sent extremely powerful person there who took the power from Mullah Omar virtually and made him helpless, who own his own army etc. They (CIA/US) don't want that Taliban style Govt became successful since it is not in their favor which gives Pakistan / China extreme edge in Afghanistan but the stooge son't know they are using them twin towers destroyed in a very dramatic way a well crafted Hollywood live cinema would be a better term to describe and rest you all know.
 

punit

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what makes you think it is not already in place?
their Punjabi chapter is already political ally of Nawaz league and provides the electoral muscle by scaring and bullying away the opponents..

oh by the way.. would you like Hasina to setup Makti Bahami shop in Indian Bangal? and setup a Mukti rule there?
do tell
only in case a leader from Bengal (bihar or any other place) despite having majority of seats in Indian parliament gets booted out because of ethnicity. i would personally request Pakistan to liberate us.
 
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oh by the way.. would you like Hasina to setup Makti Bahami shop in Indian Bangal? and setup a Mukti rule there?
do tell

Yes Sir- Yes Sir Please-

Given what we have there- Haseena would be a great savior of secularism and economy-

only in case a leader from Bengal (bihar or any other place) despite having majority of seats in Indian parliament gets booted out because of ethnicity. i would personally request Pakistan to liberate us.

Given what Haseena has been able to do- The Urdu belt, Bengal and Odissa would love to have such leader- given the trends- I see Indian Bengali, Bihari and Odiya migrating to Bangladesh for Jobs by 2025- If current situation continues-
 

Irfan Baloch

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OBL nothing but a stooge of CIA like Saddam which uses them as a bait, OBL was shifted to Afghanistan by CIA since Talibans are rapidly growing and learning diplomacy they sent extremely powerful person there who took the power from Mullah Omar virtually and made him helpless, who own his own army etc. They (CIA/US) don't want that Taliban style Govt became successful since it is not in their favor which gives Pakistan / China extreme edge in Afghanistan but the stooge son't know they are using them twin towers destroyed in a very dramatic way a well crafted Hollywood live cinema would be a better term to describe and rest you all know.
the bastard was even treated by the Americans in their military hospital in UAE base..
 

but-shikan

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the bastard was even treated by the Americans in their military hospital in UAE base..
Nobody to blame but it is our own foolishness and lust of power to blame, until unless we prefer nation above our desires we shall be ruined like we are ruining by N.S and all other political elites. Our own greed for power and chair is / was and will be the biggest cause of our own death and humiliation.

We should rise above all these things be a human first then Muslim.

Allah Almighty created the human first and then guide them to follow his described path with free will but still give free air to breath, bread to eat and knowledge to learn and earn even human don't follow his path but we are doing opposite denying basic right to exist to all those who chooses Allah's given free will.
 

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