Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed (Urdu: محمود احمد‎) (HI(M)), is a veteran intelligence officer and a retired three-star general in the Pakistan Army who served as a Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the principal intelligence body of Pakistan. He along with other generals were successful in overthrowing the elected government of prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in the 1999 coup d’état to bring General Pervez Musharraf to political power. He was serving as the Corp Commander of X Corps, Rawalpindi at that time. After the coup, General Mahmud was transferred as the Director General ISI, replacing Lieutenant General Ziauddin Butt, who was Sharif’s choice to replace General Musharraf as the army chief before the coup. He himself was replaced by another career Army intelligence officer Lieutenant General Jamshed Gulzar Kayani (of the 38th PMA Long Course) as the Rawalpindi Corps Commander.

During his time in ISI he pursued a Pakistani policy of supporting Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan such as Mohammed Omar.[1]

Army career
Mahmud Ahmed was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 1966 in the 37th PMA Long Course and was the regimental colleague of General Pervez Musharraf in the 16 SP (Self-Propelled) Regiment.[2] In October 1995, when Lt Gen Ali Kuli Khan Khattak was appointed Rawalpindi Corps Commander by then army chief General Abdul Waheed Kakar, Mahmud Ahmed took over from him as DGMI.

Mahmud was promoted to Lieutenant General in June 1998, and posted by General Jehangir Karamat, then COAS, as Commandant, National Defence College. On taking over as the COAS in October, 1998, General Musharraf brought him as Commander X Corps replacing Lieutenant General Salim Haider who proceeded as Corps Commander Mangla. Mahmud was posted, after the coup, as DG ISI, in place of Lieutenant General Ziauddin Butt.

Commander of Artillery Corps
Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed was later nominated for the ceremonial post of Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Artillery at the Artillery Regimental Center on 17 March 2001. He had replaced the outgoing colonel commandant Lieutenant General Saeed Uz Zafar.[3] Mahmud was later replaced by Lt General Khalid Kidwai as the colonel commandant on 13 October 2004.[4]

Mahmud’s visit to United States
General Mahmud was known to visit the United States regularly during his time as the head of ISI consulting senior officials in the U.S. administration in the weeks before and after 9/11. In fact, he was with Republican Congressman Porter Goss and Democratic Senator Bob Graham in Washington, discussing Osama bin Laden over breakfast, when the attacks of September 11, 2001 happened.[5] He was immediately called into meetings with American officials where demands of Pakistani cooperation were made and he was told to convey this to the Pakistani government. Joe Biden recalled the meeting: “I met with him to deliver a message, that if he didn’t, didn’t stop supporting the Taliban we would take him out.” [6]

Views on American War in Afghanistan and removal from ISI
General Mahmud Ahmed opposed the US invasion of Afghanistan. He was retired from his role in the ISI on 8 October 2001, just prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan. He was replaced by Lieutenant General Ehsan ul Haq as the Director General ISI. On October 9, 2001, The Times of India reported that “US authorities sought his removal after confirming the fact that $100,000 were wired to WTC hijacker Mohamed Atta from Pakistan by Ahmad Umar Sheikh at the insistence of Gen. Mahmud”.[7]

He is now a member of Tablighi Jamaat and preaching the teaching of Islam.

  1. Tariq Ali, The Duel, 2008 Simon & Schuster
  2. Ikram Sehgal. “Choosing Merit over Friendship” The News, 9 October 2001
  3. “Ceremony for Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Artillery” President of Pakistan Press Release, 17 March 2001
  4. “President Address on the occasion of installation ceremony of Lieutenant General Khalid Ahmed Kidwai as the Colonel Commandant” President of Pakistan Press Release, 13 October 2004
  5. Richard Leiby. A Cloak But No Dagger The Washington Post, 18 May 2002
  6. WeAreChange (18 June 2007). CHANGE confronts Democrats. YouTube.
  7. “India helped FBI trace ISI-terrorist links”, 9 October 2001
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