The former head of Pakistan’s ISI has died of a brain hemorrhage near Islamabad. Known as the “godfather of the Taliban,” Hamid Gul remained an Islamist ideologue until his death. He leaves behind a dangerous legacy.
“Hamid Gul is not dead; he is alive in the form of numerous jihadist organizations, including the Taliban, and in the Islamist narratives of the Pakistani state that have persisted since the 1980s Afghan War. He will live on as long as the Pakistani military continues its anti-India policies and meddles in the Afghan affairs,” a friend of mine said to me over the telephone after the news of Gul’s death broke on Pakistan’s TV channels on August 15.
Lieutenant General Gul, the former chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, was a controversial figure in Pakistan and Afghanistan for his role in the Afghan war against the Soviets and his support of the Taliban. A number of historians called him the “father of the Taliban,” but godfather would be more accurate: He didn’t create the group – just nurtured it. In Afghanistan, Gul was sometimes called “the butcher of the Afghans.”