A Few Good Men

September 6, 2009

Syed Danish Hasan Rizvi | PKKH Exclusive

PKKH pays tribute to one of the finest Generals of Pakistan Army, General Abdul Akhtar Rahman

General_Akhtar_abdur_rahmanThis is a story of an orphan who belonged to a small village where he spent his childhood and where there was no one to lead him except his mother. This is the story of a general who formed one of the world’s most efficient and feared secret service. This is the story of a general who once had been all alone in the battlefield, bravely confronting 40 Russian generals without any fear. This is a story of a tactician, a mastermind who was to be eliminated by the super powers in order to achieve their objectives.

This is the story of General Abdul Akhtar Rahman.

Early life and education:

General Akhtar Abdul Rahman was born on June 11, 1924. His father, Dr. Abdul Rahman died, when Akhtar was only four years old. After completing his high school education from Ajnala High School, young Akhtar came to Amritsar and got admission in Islamia College Amritsar, and then moved to Government College Lahore. Akhtar did MA Economics in 1945 after which he joined the Army and received commission in 1946.
As a young army officer, during the partition days, Akhtar faced traumatic circumstances, which left a lasting impact on his mind and personality.

On the way to D.G ISI:

General Akhtar had an enticing career where he became part of almost every important milestone of Pakistan’s history. After promotion to the rank of captain, Akhtar was appointed as an instructor at Artillery School Nowshehra, and later was selected for a training course in UK. After returning to Pakistan, he was promoted to the rank of major. He served in East Pakistan from April 1954 to Oct 1954 and then was transferred to GHQ, where he worked from April 1956 to Feb 1957. In 1965, when the war with India broke, Akhtar was sent to Lahore war-front, where he served as second-in-command. Akhtar was then promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel, and subsequently as a full colonel. He was then transferred to Bagh, Azad Kashmir as Brigade commander.

On June 1979, General Zia called General Akhtar to the Army House and offered him the coveted position of Director General Inter-Services Intelligence. It was after the assumption of its headship by Gen. Akhtar that the ISI became one of the major organs of Pakistan’s fast expanding military organizational machinery. He worked tirelessly and gathered around him colleagues who were equally dynamic and determined to make ISI an organization that would have great impact on the domestic and external policies of the country. President Zia promoted Gen Akhtar to a senior rank within a matter of days after assumption of his duties as DG ISI.

Dreaming the impossible

On December 27, 1979, Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The disappearance of Afghanistan as a buffer state increased Pakistan’s insecurity. Indeed, the USA was the only western state that showed any serious concerns, but because of President Carter’s domestic difficulties resulting from the hostage crisis in Iran, he was not prepared to give any substantial aid. However, after a year and a half when President Reagan came to White House, President Zia accepted his six years 3.2 billion dollar aid package. But fact remains, that even before Reagan entered the White House, President Zia and Gen Akhtar had made up their minds to resist the Soviet Union onslaught in every possible way. Both the Generals were certain if the Soviet Union ever threatened Pakistan’s frontiers through Afghanistan, it would meet with the faith and determination of people of Pakistan and will remember the lessons for years to come.

He had a firm commitment to defeat the soviets since the start of the war, which is confirmed by various incidents. For instance, in the early days of Afghan war, while in a briefing General Akhtar asked for the maps of Soviet Union and after 30 minutes when the staff was unable to produce the maps Akhtar addressed the team:

“Let me tell you one thing, I have decided to fight this war against the Russians until and unless I push them across the OMUS, I will continue fighting. Better get yourself prepared!”
When he proposed the plan that Pakistan would be fighting this war against the Russians many of the senior officers had a laugh on it where they thought Akhtar was getting too optimistic. Many of them said that India was a separate story but Russians with all their tanks and artillery and heavy armored divisions backed with MI 24 helicopters and MIC aircraft would prove out to be a very tough test. In response the confident general said:

“Russians have done a very big mistake by invading Afghanistan and they will pay a very high price for it. The same price which Napoleon paid when he invaded Moscow and the same price which the Americans paid when they landed in Vietnam”

Hurdles on the Way:

When Gen. Akhtar, as the head of ISI, was given responsibility of organizing military and material support for the Afghans, there were no concrete plans, no defined goals, no supplies, and no organizational machinery to accomplish this mission. Gen. Akhtar was entirely responsible for the planning and policy making of this gigantic military operation. He was also in charge of the implementation and constant monitoring of this mission. He built a powerful infrastructure, almost from scratch, and laid the foundations for competent training facilities. Not only this but at the same time, Gen. Akhtar was also successful on the diplomatic and political fronts. He had to work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan, and with the State Department, especially the branch that interacted constantly with the CIA.

The next big step towards the war was to get necessary aid from the European and Muslim states. After the defeat of Vietnam, Americans were on the back foot and Russians were gaining strength day by day. Also after the 1979 Iranian revolution president Carter was facing serious criticism from the Americans. This was the perfect scenario for Pakistan to develop its defence system further. It was decided that the war would be fought on two fronts one side it would be General Zia who would handle the foreign affairs and the diplomatic issues and on ground it would be general Akhtar who would lead the troops in Afghanistan.

The reason why the Americans were hesitant to provide aid to Pakistan was because they thought that the Afghan resistance would not last for more than 6 months but with the passage of time when the results started to show Americans started providing more economical and military aid.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 President Zia sent for General Akhtar, who had recently taken over as Director of ISI. At that time nobody in authority in Pakistan, and certainly no overseas government (including the US), thought the Soviet military might could be confronted. Afghanistan was written-off as lost. The only person within the military to advocate supporting Jihad by Pakistan, and the only person to come up with a plausible plan for doing so, was General Akhtar. He convinced the president that not only was it vital to Pakistan’s interests to fight the aggressors, but that there was every chance of defeating them. Some years later Zia was to say to him;
“You have wrought a miracle; I can give you nothing worthy of your achievements. Only God can reward you.”

At the outset he was almost alone in thinking that the Soviet Union with all its modern aircraft and armor could be brought down by a few thousand poorly trained and un-armed Mujahideen. It certainly seemed impossibility at the beginning but it happened and happened with such a success that the world was astonished for years to come.

Unfinished business:

As events unleashed he proved himself right. Under his leadership, the communist menace was not only confronted, but also turned back – forced to retreat. Little wonder that the chief architect of this humiliation was on the top of the KGB’s hit list with a huge price on his head. Nevertheless, he never wavered or showed concern at the danger, but continued to press on with Jihad.

August 17th 1988, 3.46 PM General Zia’s plane took off from the runway of Bahawalpur along with five of his generals including General Akhtar to visit a test site to observe a demonstration of the M1 Abrams main battle tank. Shortly after takeoff at 3.49 PM, the control tower lost contact with the aircraft. Witnesses cited in Pakistan’s official investigation said that the C-130 began to pitch “in an up-and-down motion” while flying low shortly after take-off before going into a “near-vertical dive”, exploding on impact, killing all on board.

Many of us still don’t know much about this un-sung hero who was without a question the chief architect of Afghan war. But we now know that if in 1979 Pakistan Army didn’t have leadership of this competent and daring general, such a historical chapter could never have been written and there were no doubts the whole operation could result in another 1971. May Allah raise his ranks in Jannah. Ameen.

Pakistan Paindabad!



  1. Weldone PKKH team. Glad to see an article on Mard-e-Mujahid, conqueror of Afghanistan General Akhrat Abdur Rahman.

  2. General Akhrat Abdur Rahman should be recognized as the father of ISI same as AQ Khan the father of the Atomic program… There should be a detailed program in his memory and anniversaries to be reminded of the braves and great minds of Pakistan….

  3. yeah AKHTAR ABDUL REHMAN was a hero ….a great hero …a great mujahid of AFGHAN WAR ……but what about musharraf …selling the soveriegnty of pakistan to US …..now blackwater is in pakistan!!!

    • I think u r new to this forum.

      All this has been discussed in the past.

  4. Finally someone is talking about Khalid bin Walid of our times. I commented last time when I was reading the interview of Gen, Hamid Gul that we must talk about our real heroes like Gen. Akhtar Rahman.
    Thank you for bringing this to us. We must salute this Mujahid, “Soldier of Allah”.

    • Thank you. We all needed to feel proud. Not only as Pakistani but as an UMMAH. You gave us hope.
      Allah will give u the Ajaar. Bring some more people from recent times like Mr. AQ Khan etc. This helps people to relate themselves to.

  5. Dear Rufi,

    It was upon your request that the PKKH team decided to do an article on him. Thanks for your support.

    May ALLAH bless this land of pure with many such Khalid Bin Waleeds. AAmeen.

    -PKKH Team

    • Thank You. PKKH

  6. Ya khaki wardi wale hathon mein shahadet ka jaam rekhtey hein
    jo hein medd-e-mukabil un ke liye mot ka pegham rekhtey hein

    Allah is our protector. Alhemdulillah

    Pak For zindabad

    Pakistan paindabad

  7. It is execllent , I request Mr. Zaid Hamid to make some special program on this general.


  8. Salamz to P.K.K.H Team

    Atlast I am able to read a good Article about G.Akhtar Abdulrehman, i requested it last time when I read an article of G.Hameed Gul.
    But the services which G.Akhtar Abdulrehman has done for Pakistan & its coming Generations are unlimited, My humble Request to P.K.K.H Team is to write more in details about this ” KHAMOOSH & FORGOTTEN MUJAHID”, & He really was as his ancestors were, he from the same Generaion & Family of Hafiz Rehmat Khan who laid his life with his companions against English troops back in 18th century.
    We all need more knowledge about our Great General.
    & Thanks a lot again to P.K.K.H Team
    May ALLAH BLESS you all in this Great Month of RAMAZAN.

  9. superb work P.K.K.H Team

  10. Jazak-ALLAH
    Great Work Team,
    This is like we are discovering ourselves,
    Great people now unknown….. most of the people dont know about the heroes of this time “khalid’s, Salahudins, Ghauries” … ALLAH give them the place they deserve.
    ALLAH PAK is with us Insha-ALLAH.
    Salam o Alaikum

  11. […] :  +0 / -0  0 score      General Abdul Akhtar Rahman A Few Good Men Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz This is a story of an orphan who belonged to a small village where he spent his childhood and […]

  12. post something about colonel imam

  13. is there any way i can share it on fb?

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