Ehsan ul Haq

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Person.png Ehsan ul Haq   History CommonsRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, officer)
Ehsan ul haq.jpg
Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Alma materPAF Public School, Pakistan Military Academy, Pakistan National Defence University, PLA Air Force Aviation University, Pakistan Command and Staff College, United States Army's Logistics Management College
Former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence and Chairman of the Pakistani Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Employment.png Inter-Services Intelligence/Director-General

In office
8 October 2001 - October 2004
Preceded byMahmud Ahmed

General Ehsan ul Haq is a retired four-star rank army general in the Pakistan Army and former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence. He also was made Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, appointed on October 2005 until his retirement in 2007.[1]


Ehsan ul Haq was born in Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, into a Pashto-speaking family on 22 September 1949.[2] He was educated at the PAF Public School in Sargodha, a school under the administration of the Air Force Education Command, and matriculated in 1967.[3][4][5] He joined the Pakistan Army in 1967, and was directed to attend the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in Kakul where he passed out in the class of 41st PMA Long Course from the academy in 1969.[6] 2nd-Lt. Ehsan was commissioned in the Army Air Defence Command, and serving in the Western front of the third war with India in 1971.[7]

After the war with India in 1971, he went to attend the National Defence University in Islamabad where he attained MSc in War Studies in 1977. In addition, Ehsan also went to attend the Command and Staff College in Quetta in 1977.

Ehsan was noted as a specialist in anti-aircraft warfare, having educated and graduated master's degree from the PLA Air Force Aviation University in Zhengzhou in China.[8]

War and command appointments in the military

In 1977, Major Ehsan was posted with the Pakistan Armed Forces-Middle East Command where he first served as an instructor to the Iranian Air Force as an exchange officer until 1980.[8] However, Maj. Ehsan left his instructing assignment Iranian IAF before the start of the Iran–Iraq War, and was posted with a command deputation to the Royal Saudi Air Defense which he served until 1983–84.[8] In 1986, Ehsan went to the United States where he attended the United States Army's Logistics Management College in Fort Lee in Virginia and graduated from there in 1989.[2]

In 1990, Brig. Ehsan commanded the 117th Infantry Brigade, later 46 AD Brigade and Deputy Military Secretary in GHQ until 1994 when he was promoted to two-star rank and commanded the 3rd Air Defence Division until 1996.[9] Major-General Ehsan later took over the command of the 16th Infantry Division stationed in Pano Aqil in Sindh as its GOC which he commanded until 1996–97.[10]

After the military takeover of the civilian government in 1999, Maj-Gen Ehsan was appointed as the Director-General of the Military Intelligence (DGMI) and took the command of the MI from then Maj-Gen Jamshed Gulzar Kiani, remaining in this position until April 2001.[11]

In April 2001, Lieutenant-General Ehsan was posted as the field commander of the XI Corps stationed in Peshawar but remained in this command capacity until October 2001.[12]

Director ISI (2001–04)

Political engineering and controlled democracy

On 7 October 2001, Lt-Gen. Ehsan was surprisingly appointed as the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) as part of a major reshuffle that took place when President Pervez Musharraf went to dismissed his key army generals involved in the military takeover in 1999.[12] His appointment was in response of removal of the ISI director, Mahmud Ahmed, after the terrorist attacks took place in the United States on September 2001 which was followed by the American invasion of Afghanistan on October 2001.[12]

About his reception and image, the American Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) ran his profile in June 2002 that described him as holding "moderate Islamic views" and calls him a "protege" of President President Musharraf, saying the two men had a "strong relationship".[9]

Furthermore, he was described as "keenly aware of big picture issues with viewing of strong support for the democracy, advocating that Pakistan needs a legitimate civilian democratic government" and "open with American officials".[9] According to the DIA, Ehsan believes that Pakistan's policy of engagement with the Taliban was to eventually moderate the Taliban's behavior.[13] He played a crucial role in apprehending of the Omar Sheikh, a British terrorist and former MI-6 agent, from Karachi in 2002, and knew well aware of his status as the MI-6 agent as early as 1999.[14]

In 2002, Ehsan politically engineered a centrist party under Shuja'at Hussain that opposing both the conservative PML(N) and the leftist PPP, and provided his agency's support to promote the Musharraf's mainstream agenda through the new political party in the political platform of the country.[14][15]

He played a crucial role in dividing the two mainstream parties, the PML(N) being split towards the PML(Q) while the PPP forming the parliamentarians under Amin Fahim to fight off the pressure exerted by Lt-Gen. Ehsan.[14] After the general elections held in 2002, the ISI under Ehsan remained politically active to provide political support to legitimize presidential elections in 2004.[14]

In 2018, it was revealed by Urdu columnist, Mahmood Shaam, that Lt-Gen. Ehsan fiercely opposed the candidacy of Fazal-ur-Rehman and notably pressured the ARD alliance led by Benazir Bhutto and ultraconservative MMA to withdrew the latter's name in favor of Zafarullah Khan Jamali.[16]

Chairman joint chiefs (2004–07)

Appointment controversy and violence North-West Pakistan

In 2004, the Government of Pakistan confirmed the timely retirement of Gen. Aziz Khan as the Chairman joint chiefs, and eventually the race was thought be between Adm. Shahid Karim and the senior army generals in the Pakistan Army. In the army department alone, there were eight army generals who were in the race for the promotion of four-star rank appointment alongside with Adm. Shahid Karim, including with seniority:[17]

Despite his short-coming of his seniority and qualifications, President Musharraf announced to promote Lt-Gen. Ehsan to the four-star appointment and subsequently superseding the senior most Adm. Shahid Karim and eight senior army generals in the Pakistan Army on 7 October 2004.[17] In the public circles and media, the appointment was commented as "backdrop of a controversy over President Musharraf's uniform and his continuing as army chief after 31 December 2004."[18] Regardless, the appointment to four-star appointment was deemed as controversial by the political circles of the country.[17]

On 18 December 2004, Gen. Ehsan was appointed as first ever Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Air Defence Command.[19] In 2005, Gen. Ehsan went to visit China to maintain defence ties in a view of strengthening the arm industry.[20]

As Chairman joint chiefs, he oversaw the troops deployment in tribal areas to end the violence and supported his plan and strategy to gain public support despite the reluctance from the United States in 2006.[21] However, in 2007, Gen. Ehsan openly admitted when he testified his failure to end the violence and expulsion of Central Asian and Afghan Arabs in the country noting that, "the al-Qaeda and the Taliban militants used the 2006 peace agreement to regroup and carry out terrorist attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan."[21]

Retirement from military

In 2007, Gen. Ehsan sought his retirement after his testimony in the Washington D.C. in United States and went to join the corporate world eventually becoming the CEO of the Pakistan–Libya Holding Company, an investment firm.[1] He oversaw the company operations both in Libya and Pakistan but departed from the investment firm when the 2011 Libya regime change took place, and subsequently went to join the healthcare industry in 2011.[1]

He is currently serving as the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Al-Shifa Trust, which runs a chain of eye care hospitals throughout Pakistan, while also managing the DNA Health Corporation, an American based health company based in New York. [1]

In 2017, Ehsan vehemently criticized the Nawaz administration over its strict neutrality, calling for supporting the military intervention by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in the Yemeni Civil War.[22]


  1. a b c d
  2. a b
  8. a b c
  9. a b c
  10. "Missile Firing Competition" Dawn, December 31, 1997
  12. a b c
  14. a b c d
  15. March 2018
  17. a b c
  19. "Air defense to be modernized says President"[dead link] President of Pakistan Press Release, December 18, 2004
  21. a b