By Brig Asif Haroon Raja (R), 37 PMA
Editor’s Note: Brig Asif Haroon Raja is a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in East Pakistan during 1971 War, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously. He is a defence analyst/columnist and author of five books; ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, ‘Roots of 1971 Tragedy’. After the retirement, he has settled in DHA Phase 1, Islamabad.
Renowned Gen Hamid Gul had gone to Murree with his wife and other family members for recreation. On 15 August 2015, he developed headache and his blood pressure shot up. He was rushed to CMH Murree at 2115 hours but he died of brain hemorrhage at 2345 hours. His funeral was held at Army Graveyard near Race Course Ground Rawalpindi at 6 pm on August 16. The attendance was exceptionally large and many had to stay out due to lack of space. COAS, Gen Raheel Sharif, gave shoulder to the coffin of the departed soul. He was laid to rest with honor at the best site amid touching scenes.
Born in 1936 at Sargodha, Gen Hamid Gul’s family has their origins in Swat and hail from Mohmand tribe. He commenced his service in 19 Lancers in 1956 and took active part in 1965 War as squadron commander. During his service, he held all the high profile appointments but he came into prominence as head of Military Intelligence and later as DG ISI from March 1987 to 1989. He put new life in these two organizations and made them vibrant and fruitful. It was owing to his efforts that the ISI developed a strong long arm capability and became the best outfit in the developing world and dreaded by all. Later on, ISI transformed into best spy agency in the world.
He was the blue-eyed boy of late Gen Zia-ul-Haq under whom he had served as Battalion Commander, Col Staff and Ist Armed Div Commander and had demonstrated his excellence in profession and commitment to duty. His outstanding contributions made in the last phase of Afghan Jihad and ending the war on a victorious note will be remembered for times to come. Afghans loved Gen Zia and Gen Hamid Gul and called them Mard-e-Mujahid. When opponents of Hamid Gul maliciously referred to him as ‘Father of Taliban’, he remarked, “I wish I had the strength and resources to help them”.
Gen Mirza Aslam Beg had recommended Gen Hamid Gul as his successor. His last active post was Corps Commander 2 Corps Multan (April 1989 – August 1991). There he underwent a tragedy of death of his married daughter Mehreen Gul. Another setback he faced was his posting as Chairman Heavy Industries Taxila after he developed difference with COAS, Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua. He decided to resign saying that he had joined the Army to become a fighting soldier and not a ironsmith. He was conferred with Hilal-e-Imtiaz and Sitara-e-Basalat. After retirement, he never visited GHQ or ISI and never vied for a job and dedicated his services for the cause of unity of Ummah. In September 2013, he was persuaded and elected by members of The Pakistan Ex Servicemen Society (PESS) to take over as President of the Society, which offers no pay and perks. He spent money from his pocket to run the office kitchen and meet other essential expenditures since PESS has no funds. He tried hard to convert it into the world’s biggest NGO and a productive workforce both in peace and war and gave out his vision but unfortunately his dreams remained unfulfilled since he didn’t receive the backing of the Army. None deemed it fit to make good use of his stupendous talents and experience in intelligence and counter intelligence.
A scrupulously honest and down to earth par excellence soldier and a thorough gentleman; he was blessed with extraordinary sterling qualities of head and heart. Endowed with a fertile mind, he had photogenic memory of historical and geographical facts. He was gifted with remarkable blend of forceful written and oral expression duly complemented by a reservoir of knowledge and acumen. Insightful and visionary, he could conceptualise and decipher things on a wider canvass. He had the knack of strategising and coming out with concrete logical conclusions as to what shape the emerging picture was taking and its impact on national, regional and global dynamics. He was alive to the problems faced by Muslim Ummah in general and Pakistan in particular and the conspiratorial role of the US led west, Israel and India. An ardent flag bearer of Islam and its ideology, he relentlessly worked for the interests of Pakistan and unity of Ummah and raised his voice against the adversaries of Islam and Ummah fearlessly.
A devout Muslim, it was his daily routine not to sleep after Fajr prayers and to recite Quran till daybreak. He revered Holy Prophet (PBUH) and in every weekly meeting he chaired in PESS HQ, he would start the proceedings with a verse of Quran and sayings of Prophet Muhammad. He never tired of fondly quoting Quaid-e-Azam and would take pains to quote his speeches and statements indicating his quest to make Pakistan a true Islamic welfare state in line with Measakh-e-Medina. He drew inspiration from Allama Iqbal’s poetry and would often read it out adoringly. He was firm, focused and steadfast in his thought process and was of the view that application of Islamic system in accordance with Quran and Sunnah as spelled out in Objectives Resolution was the only remedy to address the multiple ailments which afflict Pakistan. He was fiercely against the Anglo-Saxon laws saying they were flawed and pro-rich and was a strong exponent of Sharia laws.
An affectionate and caring senior, he seldom lost his temper on his subordinates and would go all out to help anyone approaching him. He had the skill of captivating the audience with his brilliant oratory, astuteness and charisma. Handsome man and bestowed with graceful personality, demeanor and a sweet tongue, he was a born fighter and spoke with authority on any subject and none could outdo him in arguments. An unusually bold, blunt and forthright person, he would express his views candidly and would never mince his words to call a spade a spade. When Gen Musharraf called him in his office after his takeover and informed him that he was his ideal and wanted his support and offered him office of his choice, Gen Gul told him that he didn’t need any office but wanted an assurance from him that he would not compromise on Kashmir and nuclear issues, he will work towards implementation of Islamic system and build rapport with people rather than with USA and lastly carryout strict across the board accountability. Alas! His wise councils were ignored. In July 2014, he presented himself for accountability and asked other PESS members to follow suit to set an example for others. He neither carried any financial baggage nor had any skeletons in his cupboard.
Gen Hamid Gul was not only admired and respected in Pakistan but had lot many admirers abroad particularly among the Arab countries, Turkey, Iran and China. He was seen by his admirers as Salahuddin Ayubi and Tipu Sultan of this time. Many came from abroad on return flights to pay homage to their ideal. All TV channels hungered to seek his interviews/comments on current issues. He led a full and spirited life and never compromised on principles despite the worldly trials and tribulations he had to bear with in his domestic life and the stings of his adversaries.
Gen Hamid Gul has returned to the Creator, but he has left behind a vacuum and a legacy which will be remembered with fondness and often quoted by historians in rich words. He has left behind ailing widow, two sons Umar Gul and Abdullah Gul, a daughter Uzma Gul and seven grandchildren. Hopefully, his son Abdullah Gul will keep his illustrious father’s legacy alive. May God rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant the deceased all the rewards of life hereafter and grant courage to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss with fortitude. Ameen.
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