Hamid Gul dies
The former spy chief and ‘father of Taliban’ died due to brain haemorrhage Reuters file photo

The former chief of Pakistan's Intel Service Intelligence (ISI) Hamid Gul, nicknamed the "Father of Taliban", has died due to brain haemorrhage. The 79-year-old, who was a notorious spymaster and has spearheaded the spy agency, passed away at the Combined Military Hospital in Muree, near Islamabad.

His daughter, Uzma Gul confirmed the news and added that his body would be brought home to Rawalpindi for funeral rites.

Gul was born in 1936 and served in the military initially, before rising to become the head of ISI between 1987 and 1989.

Gul was a controversial figure in Pakistan's high-ranking officials for his hardline Islamic views. He backed the Taliban government in Afghanistan and is also known for his hawkish views against the US and India. Before parting ways with the US, he helped the CIA supply weapons to the Islamists fighting against Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Prime Minister's office said in a statement: "[Prime Minister] Nawaz Sharif has expressed his heartfelt condolences over the sad demise of Lt. Gen. (retd.) Hamid Gul. The prime minister prayed eternal peace for the departed soul and said that may God bless the deceased."

The head of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Party Imran Khan tweeted: "Sad to learn of Gen Hamid Gul's death. Whether one agreed with his views or not, he was a patriot. Condolences & prayers go to the family."

Gul, who retired in 1992, was frequently seen in the media for his radical views against India, Israel and the US. He also openly supported extremist groups including Taliban and al-Qaeda.