View Full Version : Pakistan: Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) - a collection

Rex Brynen
10-09-2008, 10:18 PM
Moderator's Note

This thread has been re-named to reflect the merging of three threads and that it is a collection on ISI (ends).

The Role of the ISI in Counterterrorism and Pakistan’s Political Landscape
A Teleconference featuring Pakistani Voices

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brigadier Shaukat Qadir, retired Army brigadier, former vice president and founder of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI), and weekly columnist for the Daily Times—where he is authoring a two part series on restructuring the ISI.

Shaheen Sehbai, Group Editor of The News International and former foreign correspondent for The Dawn in Washington D.C.

Dr. Hassan Abbas, Research Fellow at the Belfer Center's Project on Managing the Atom and International Security Program, former government official who served in the administrations of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (1995–1996) and President Pervez Musharraf (1999–2000), and author of the blog Watandost (http://watandost.blogspot.com/) on Pakistan-related affairs.

Moderated by Karin von Hippel, Co-Director, PCR Project, CSIS

RSVP to pcrproject@csis.org

Center for Strategic and International Studies
4th floor Conference room
1800 K Street NW
Washington, DC

Visit http://www.pcrproject.com for publications, commentary, and more information about our work.

01-07-2012, 08:21 PM
An Indian article from the Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses (October 2011), by Rana Banerji, a former senior intelligence officer with RAW; following a hat tip from Hamid Hussain, our occasional contributor and for the moment this deserves its own thread.

Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) feature regularly in posts, either in the South Asia arena or in OEF, but IMO rarely in such detail.

Hamid has added his commentary, with his text in red and is on the attachment - alas minus the charts, diagrams etc.

He starts with:
This is one of the most comprehensive articles written about ISI. It is an Indian perspective but not an amateur one. Respected author probably has access to database kept by Indian intelligence agencies about their rival intelligence agency of Pakistan. Author has used Mr. Shuja Nawaz’s encyclopedic work on Pakistan army and also used some of my own very limited work on Pakistan army.

Link to article:http://idsa.in/system/files/jds_5_4_rbanerji.pdf

The article is very comprehensive, the charts are a bonus.

01-08-2012, 05:13 AM
Thanks for pulling this one in David. I have wracked my brain for a long time to be able to understand why ISI does what it does. I haven't started this, but I imagine that it will only stand to expand my base of knowledge significantly.

02-01-2012, 11:45 AM
From the BBC...


Pakistan helping Afghan Taliban - Nato

The Taliban in Afghanistan are being directly assisted by Pakistani security services, according to a secret Nato report seen by the BBC.

The leaked report, derived from thousands of interrogations, claims the Taliban remain defiant and have wide support among the Afghan people....

...The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says the report - on the state of the Taliban - fully exposes for the first time the relationship between the ISI and the Taliban.

The report is based on material from 27,000 interrogations with more than 4,000 captured Taliban, al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters and civilians.

It notes: "Pakistan's manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues unabatedly"....

...It quotes a senior al-Qaeda detainee as saying: "Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can't [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching."

"The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad."...

...Despite Nato's strategy to secure the country with Afghan forces, the secret document details widespread collaboration between the insurgents and Afghan police and military...

It goes on a bit. The report is of course open to all manner of interpretation and challenge. Doesn't sound a terribly optimistic read by any account.

02-01-2012, 12:02 PM
If the US lacks sufficient power to persuade, induce, or coerce Pakistan into a modified strategic outlook that does not include the Taliban or one of it many affiliates or the will to utilize sufficient power; how can one reasonably expect the US to persuade, induce, or coerce Iran into a decision not to seek nuclear weapons?

02-01-2012, 08:01 PM
This report was discussed today on BBC Radio Four's PM programme, with Bruce Reidel and he stated:
It is an extraordinary document..with quite good vintage wine...we've known for a long time that Pakistan supports the Afghan Taliban...it is a pretty massive indictment of Pakistan support for the Afghan Taliban...

Link to podcast, his remarks are 40:40 to 43:30:http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01bb7jy

Even the Daily Telegraph comment is pithy:
..There is little in the report which marries with Nato claims the insurgency's momentum has been broken.


02-02-2012, 12:29 AM
It's groundhog day folks. From the December 24, 2006, Los Angeles Times:

Confidential documents obtained by The Times show that for at least two years, U.S. military intelligence agencies have warned American commanders that Taliban militants were arming and training in Pakistan, then slipping into Afghanistan with the help of Pakistani border control officers....

Intelligence warnings have for months documented U.S. worries about Pakistan's role in providing a haven for Afghan insurgents.

A map prepared in early 2005 for a U.S. Army Special Operations task force warned that officers at Pakistani border control posts were "assisting insurgent attacks." It showed militants' infiltration routes from Pakistan, several of which crossed from North Waziristan to Khowst province, where members of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network who have long been based in Afghanistan are still active.

On Jan. 19 of this year, a report from the U.S. military's Joint Intelligence Task Force said that Al Qaeda continued "to provide expertise and resources, such as weapons, training, and fighters to anti-coalition groups including the Taliban" and its allies, among which is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami militia.

In a separate report the same month, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, identified six eastern provinces, including Khowst, as "Al Qaeda strongholds."

"These locations allow Al Qaeda members easy entrance and exit over the Afghanistan/Pakistan border," it added.

The document identified Al Qaeda's commander in Afghanistan as Khalid Habib, and said "Al Qaeda maintains close ties to the Taliban and has received technical support and training from Pakistani militant groups."

It warned that armed Afghans, Arabs and Pakistanis who might attack U.S. forces were in Afghanistan. And it said that Pakistan's ISI directorate posed "a HIGH intelligence threat to U.S. and Coalition forces."

There have been dozens and dozens of "leaks" about this going back to at least 2006 and I remember the first serious reports from way, way back in 2003. It's been six-plus freaking years of this crap and it's still reported in halting, serious tones by "officials" as if this were some great revelation. That Pakistani's must be laughing their asses off - "look at the Americans - they've known for years we're helping the Taliban and all they seem to do is complain to the media."

/rant off. Time to pour myself a drink.

02-02-2012, 12:44 AM
...and that's why having nukes is so attractive.

Without them, you run risk of getting even your fertilizer factories bombed - with them you can do whatever you want, even house the U.S.'s arch enemy.
You may even get subsidies by the U.S. in the meantime.

Seriously, who could have made this up?

02-02-2012, 01:27 AM
...and that's why having nukes is so attractive.

Without them, you run risk of getting even your fertilizer factories bombed - with them you can do whatever you want, even house the U.S.'s arch enemy.
You may even get subsidies by the U.S. in the meantime.

Seriously, who could have made this up?

So, you're suggesting nukes are why the US looks the other way with regard to Pakistani support for the Taliban?

02-02-2012, 04:02 AM
So, you're suggesting nukes are why the US looks the other way with regard to Pakistani support for the Taliban?

I doubt the nukes have much to do with it. The Pakistanis know too well what the consequence of pointing one of those the wrong way would be.

A simpler answer is that as long as the US presence in Afghanistan is large enough to require land supply via Pakistan to sustain it, te Pakistanis hold a trump card in their dealing with the US. The US can't use its substantial economic leverage until it's capable of supporting the Afghanistan venture without Pakistani cooperation. Counterintuitively, the US may gain more leverage over Pakistan, and thus over the Taliban, by reducing its presence.

I personally wonder if it wouldn't be possible to scale back the overall presence substantially without reducing combat capability, by adjusting the teeth-to-tail ratio in favor of teeth. Of course I'm not in a position to know, but it does seem like there's a whole bunch of tail on the ground there. Would appreciate informed commentary on that question...

Bob's World
02-02-2012, 07:12 AM
Pakistan has always had a working relationship with the Taliban to my knowledge; why would that change simply because the US decided to jump into the region and begin working to shape things to our liking??

Pakistan had little choice but to "align" with the US in this effort officially, or risk being caught between a growing US-Indian alliance; but that did not change how they viewed their interests from their perspective and the role of the Taliban in managing the aspect of those interests that requires influence with the Pashtun populace shared by Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I see nothing surprising or new about this report. Well, I guess to me it is surprising that anyone thinks this is surprising.

And yes, I think we would have been as deep in Pakistan as we are currently in Afghanistan if they did not have nukes. Countries that have nukes receive a different status of treatment than those that do not, that is why so many countries seek them today. Afghanistan and Iraq did not have nukes, so we ignored their sovereignty. Pakistan has nukes, so while frustrating, we respect their sovereignty. NK and Iran are seeking a little respect of their own. Perhaps if we gave it to them they would not feel compelled to pursue nuclear programs quite so aggressively.

02-02-2012, 02:02 PM
I think what Fuchs meant (correctly) was that having Nukes makes Pakistan "too big to fail" and guarantees that bailouts will be forthcoming while also guaranteeing that any strategy of bombing or intervening directly will appear too risky. It also provides a very very valuable potential export item, to be used (i.e. sold to Saudi Arabia) if all else fails.
The only reason I am not jumping on board the "ISI is brilliant" bandwagon is because there was another choice and for the people of Pakistan (as opposed to its military-bureaucratic elite) that choice would have been much better ..to dump its "India-centric", nuke-protected-jihadi-based interventionist foreign policy and think about improving living standards and governance via the old-fashioned route (trade, industry, culture, etc). But as long as you buy the nationalist BS surrounding these matters, Pakistan's "core professionals" have played the US brilliantly and will continue to do so.
Groundhog day indeed.

02-02-2012, 03:55 PM
Ok, look, nukes are a sideshow to this discussion. When it comes to nukes we're worried about Pakistan falling apart followed by the nukes getting "lost." We're not really worried about Pakistan nuking us and it's not their nukes that are keeping us from doing more about Pakistan's support to the Taliban. After all, we haven't even cut off aid yet. Pakistan is still technically an ally.

And nukes didn't keep us from flying in and killing UBL, nor has it stopped us from drone strikes in Pakistan (those have the sanction of the Pakistanis, of course). If Pakistan didn't have nukes we'd have the same problems with them we're having now. We need Pakistan because they are the key to Afghanistan for all the obvious reasons - reasons which policymakers and our senior military leadership give lip service to. We've opted to tolerate Pakistan's support of the Taliban not because of nukes, but because we have to have their assistance if we want to "win" in Afghanistan, however one chooses to define that. As bad as Pakistan's support is WRT the Taliban, it could be a lot worse. Pakistan is using that leverage - not the threat of nukes - and are laughing themselves to the bank at our expense.

02-02-2012, 05:30 PM
Lets say Pakistan had no nukes and the US "engaged" with Pakistan for all the reasons you give. And then, in 2003 or thereabout, finds out that its not exactly cooperating wholeheartedly. My thought is that the nukes take some options off the table..e.g. the option cutting off aid and applying direct pressure...maybe nobody would have done that anyway, but even if someone thinks of doing it, don't the nukes inhibit that though immediately?..not because Pakistan could use one, but because the sanctions and pressures might work too well, leading to either collapse or open Jihadist takeover. To avoid either contingency 98.7% of analysts would opt for "more engagement" and while GHQ may not know many things, they do know this fact and use it.
Again, I could say (like Robert sahib) "good for them. they should protect their interests", except that i dont think that the interests defined in the Pakistani military-inspired national narrative are really in the interest of most Pakistanis.
And, as a US citizen and taxpayer, I do feel we shouldnt be paying for such shenanigans. I understand wasting trillions is our thing and Ron Paul is not going to win the election, but the thought still pinches...

02-02-2012, 06:59 PM
And then, in 2003 or thereabout, finds out that its not exactly cooperating wholeheartedly. My thought is that the nukes take some options off the table..e.g. the option cutting off aid and applying direct pressure...maybe nobody would have done that anyway, but even if someone thinks of doing it, don't the nukes inhibit that though immediately?

I don't think nukes take cutting aid off the table at all. After all, we've cut off aid before when they had nukes. The aid only started back up because of Afghanistan and once that is over I bet they will get cut off again. The idea that Pakistan is somehow using its nukes to extort aid from us just seems ludicrous to me.

That's not to say the nukes mean nothing. Yes, Pakistani stability is more important - yes nukes mean we aren't going to do a lot of things like attack them, but those are things we weren't going to do anyway.

Nukes simply aren't a central consideration to what we do about Afghanistan. Our position wouldn't be any better if Pakistan wasn't a nuclear power.

02-02-2012, 08:35 PM
And all this time i thought there must SOME rhyme and reason to this silly business. If its not even the nukes, then I must say it looks even more ridiculous..

02-03-2012, 09:41 PM
Counterintuitively, the US may gain more leverage over Pakistan, and thus over the Taliban, by reducing its presence.

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

I personally wonder if it wouldn't be possible to scale back the overall presence substantially without reducing combat capability, by adjusting the teeth-to-tail ratio in favor of teeth. Of course I'm not in a position to know, but it does seem like there's a whole bunch of tail on the ground there. Would appreciate informed commentary on that question...

My uninformed commentary is physically. absolutely. Culturally, impossible.

02-03-2012, 09:42 PM
For once a measured, careful commentary on this "leak" and the fuss afterwards by a British think tank author, who was a special adviser to the former Labour government:http://www.ippr.org/articles/56/8609/todays-nato-leak-highlights-the-need-for-more-realism-over-afghanistan

A "taster" from his last two paragraphs:
This suggests a total inability to see the conflict from the insurgency’s point of view. At the same time as Western leaders, looking to their domestic constituencies, are talking about accelerating the process of ‘transition’ to Afghan control, today’s report tells us that ‘the Taliban are deliberately hastening NATO’s withdrawal by reducing their attacks in some areas and then initiating a comprehensive hearts-and-minds campaign’. We shouldn’t ascribe too much strategic sophistication, and in particular too much strategic co-ordination, to what is undeniably a fragmented insurgency under a degree of pressure; but the trends identified in the report are plausible components of a deliberate strategic shift by the insurgency, in response to NATO’s own strategic shift towards ‘transition’. Dismissing them as ‘desperation’ is itself rather desperate.

Leaks are always damaging, but however difficult this is to handle in the short term, we must hope that UK officials and others use it as an opportunity to move towards a more honest and realistic debate about the Afghan campaign and its prospects of success, in public as well as private. Clearly, they are under no obligation to talk up our enemies, but complacency can be just as damaging as defeatism.

02-03-2012, 09:57 PM
I only last week got around to reading in the December Atlantic Magazine an article about our friends in Pakistan:http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/12/the-ally-from-hell/8730/

I am now very optimistic after reading the article. This is the last sentence.

A senior US intelligence official told us that General David Petraeus, the new director of the CIA, says he believes he can rebuild relations with the ISI, because he has "a good personal relationship with these guys.

See. A new day has dawned.

02-03-2012, 11:20 PM
though personal assessments are always controversial. One will say "I look into his eyes and see his soul”; another, "I look into his eyes and see KGB”.

I confess to liking David Petraeus' research. That comes down, without a doubt, to his dissertation, The American Military and the lessons of Vietnam (Princeton, 1987) (used to be online; perhaps here (http://www.scribd.com/doc/34023090/Petraeus-Princeton-Dissertation-on-Lessons-From-Vietnam-1987)).

In those 300+ pages, he provides great sourcing into those of the "Never Again, but" school of thought. That "school" lies at the heart of my Worldview. Note that these folks were not pacifists.

"Never Again" grew out of the Korean War - whoops, "peace enforcement action". Its first articulation re: Vietnam, that I've found, was by a section of the War College Class of 1951-1952. U.S. Policy in Southeast Asia, Reports of Student Committees # 13-17 (Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. Army War College, 1951), presented in October 1951. From Bruce Palmer, Jr., The 25 Year War (http://www.amazon.com/25-Year-War-Americas-Military-Vietnam/dp/0813190363) (University Press of Kentucky, 1984), pp.2-3:

.... Although opinions were somewhat divided, a large majority opposed any major U.S. involvement. The conclusions of the majority could be summarized as follows:

(1) The United States had probably made a serious mistake in agreeing with its allies to allow French power to be restored in Indochina. As a colonial power, France had done little to develop indigenous civilian and military leaders and civil servants in preparation for the countries' eventual independence.

(2) Indochina was of only secondary strategic importance to the United States. The economic and military value of Vietnam, the most important state in the region, was not impressive. Politically and socially Vietnam was obviously entering an unstable period with uncertain consequences. In any event, it did not warrant the commitment of US forces to its defense.

(3) General war planning by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) envisioned a strategic defense in the Pacific, drawing the U.S. forward defense line to include Japan, South Korea, and the offshore island chain (Okinawa-Taiwan-the Philippines). But in Southeast Asia the line was drawn through the Isthmus of Kra on the mainland, excluding all of Indochina and most of Thailand. Thus the Straits of Malacca and populous, endowed Indonesia were considered to be the prime strategic targets of the region.

(4) Militarily the region in general and Vietnam in particular would be an extremely difficult operational area, especially for U.S. forces. Unlike the relatively narrow Korean peninsula, Vietnam presented very long land and coastal borders that would be almost impossible to seal against infiltration and difficult to defend against overt military aggression. Much of the region was covered with dense jungle and much was mountainous. Weather, terrain and geographical factors combined to present formidable obstacles for military operations and logistic support.

(5) Politically and psychologically the United States, if it were to become involved, would have to operate under severe disadvantages, for it would inherit the taint of European colonialism. The United States should not become involved in the area beyond providing materiel military aid.

I was steered to GEN Palmer's book by a pink paratrooper - a good steer, indeed.

Someone else can rewrite the five conclusions in terms of Afghanistan, etc.



02-04-2012, 04:11 AM
Something is going on IN Pakistan, but what? and why now? http://www.brownpundits.com/2012/02/04/defence-of-pakistan-council/

Moderator's Note

The link failed and website has a notice:
Brownpundits was parasitized by cialis adds. Have to reinstall. Will do so in the next few days. -Razib

05-13-2012, 06:37 PM
Hamid Hussain our regular contributor has written a short paper 'The Beginnings – Early Days of Intelligence in Pakistan' and is attached.

Fascinating to see an Australian soldier played such a role; the Notes do have a link to his on-line biography. I was aware that a British General Gracey served as the first Army CinC, but not that an Australian general was Chief of Staff.

SWJ Blog
04-02-2013, 09:11 AM
The Pakistani Godfather: The Inter-Services Intelligence and the Afghan Taliban 1994-2010 (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-pakistani-godfather-the-inter-services-intelligence-and-the-afghan-taliban-1994-2010)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-pakistani-godfather-the-inter-services-intelligence-and-the-afghan-taliban-1994-2010) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

SWJ Blog
04-02-2013, 09:11 AM
The Pakistani Godfather: The Inter-Services Intelligence and the Afghan Taliban 1994-2010 (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-pakistani-godfather-the-inter-services-intelligence-and-the-afghan-taliban-1994-2010)

Copied here as prelude to next post

04-10-2013, 10:34 AM
The SWJ article linked above, by two Swiss authors, led to Carl commenting:
This is quite an excellent monograph and I congratulate the authors. It does two very good things.

First, it gathers together and presents in one place an overwhelming body of evidence confirming Pakistani perfidy. It is sort of a one stop shop when looking for references and evidence of murderous double dealing by the Pakistani government.

Second, the authors don't mince words. The "Pakistani establishment" takes American money and uses it to support people who kill American and NATO troops, blowing off their legs and genitals among other things. They kill Americans. And without Pakistani help, Taliban & Co could not be in the favorable position they are now in. I wish we could be so plain spoken.
That we have allowed this to go on for a decade will forever be a puzzlement to historians. It is as if Western Approaches Command had had liaison officers from the U-boat Waffe attached to and working closely with them to coordinate activities and distribute Lend-Lease aid (to the U-boat Waffe); and Churchill kept wondering why the merchantmen continued getting sunk.

Pakistan and ISI often appear in posts, not always in South Asia threads, but the U-Boat comparison is - well - powerful.

04-10-2013, 12:39 PM
I rarely comment on this stuff but I posted once a rather similar comment which I want to reframe.

To me it seems that the ISI suffers from a clear case of groupthink (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/understanding-groupthink) and institutional imperative (http://www.consilium404.com/pdfs/InstitutionalImperative.pdf). They seem to be so impressed by the way they are playing the US&Co that they focus all their energy to do so while they are arguably harming their countries 'true' interest very much. In short they do the wrong thing in such a smart&successful way that they must be congratulating how clever they are. We will see if the slipped dogs of civil war can still be controlled...

04-10-2013, 02:22 PM

We could carry the analogy further with the U-boat Waffe liaison officers giving up an Italian submarine occasionally, Coastal Command VLR Liberators (the disruptive technology of the day) going after Russian subs in the Baltic and maybe Brooke making public pronouncements about how good a buddy Doenitz was.

I really think what we have been doing in Af-PAK, for 12 YEARS (!), is as mad as the impossible to conceive analogy I presented.

We know and have known how insane this situation has been for years. The monograph does an excellent job of pulling all the open source evidence together. The problem may be that we may never see official documents confirming how bad the situation has been. Computer files may be a lot easier to 'disappear' than paper. The powers that be have a huge incentive to erase official evidence about how their impregnable personal pride, naivete and arrogance has played right into the hands of the grifters in 'Pindi, and how that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds and hundreds of Americans and thousands and thousands of Afghans.

Firn: The thing that interests, and enrages, me is our behavior. The feudal elites/Pak Army/ISI are destroying their country for their own short term benefit and nothing can stop them now. Ironically I think, us being such fools has robbed Pakistan of any chance it may have had. If we had stopped their game 10 years ago they may have been discredited and maybe Pakistan would have had a chance. Not now though. The thing with the game they run on us is they run it on us. It can only work on such titanic fools such as the American elites. Nobody else has the proper combination of narcissistic pride and ignorance. It is no accomplishment besting a fool but they won't remember that and will have very great trouble because the guys in their neighborhood are no fools.

But like I said, the thing that interests me is our behavior. It is beyond reason.

(David: I like my analogy but I am not sure how many people get it on this side of the pond. There may not be many people familiar with the Battle of the Atlantic anymore.)

Bill Moore
01-04-2014, 07:20 AM
Just by chance I found this documentary and watched it on T.V. tonight. Nothing new for those who been following the conflict. They interviewed a number of witnesses on both sides of the story to add credibility to their story on ISI's support for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Part 2 looks interesting, suspect it play next week.

I don't know if this is available online or not. (Added: not downloading in the UK alas).


Filmed largely in Pakistan and Afghanistan, this two-part documentary series explores how a supposed ally stands accused by top CIA officers and Western diplomats of causing the deaths of thousands of coalition soldiers in Afghanistan. It is a charge denied by Pakistan's military establishment, but the documentary makers meet serving Taliban commanders who describe the support they get from Pakistan in terms of weapons, training and a place to hide.

Part 1 of Secret Pakistan investigates signs of duplicity that emerged after 9/11 and disturbing intelligence reports after Britain's forces entered Helmand in 2006.

01-04-2014, 01:56 PM
Fascinating to see an Australian soldier played such a role; the Notes do have a link to his on-line biography. I was aware that a British General Gracey served as the first Army CinC, but not that an Australian general was Chief of Staff.

I believe the same General, Dougles Gracey, commanded the British expeditionary force that took control of Saigon at the close of WW2, and played a pivotal role in the restoration of French rule. He had a hand in a fair bit of history, though I don't suppose we should blame him for the outcomes.

01-04-2014, 02:10 PM
I believe the same General, Dougles Gracey, commanded the British expeditionary force that took control of Saigon at the close of WW2, and played a pivotal role in the restoration of French rule. He had a hand in a fair bit of history, though I don't suppose we should blame him for the outcomes.


Yes General Gracey took his Indian Army division to Saigon in 1945, which IIRC has a mention / debate elsewhere here and it is a complicated period of history. The division then went to the Dutch East Indies (to become Indonesia) and had its toughest ever fighting against the nationalists, with some unofficial Japanese help (deserters and weapons) at the port of Surabayu (?). There is a good book on the Saigon episode, The First Indo-China War by Peter Dunn, pub. 1985 (which has disappeared from my bookshelves) and on:http://www.amazon.com/First-Vietnam-War-Peter-Dunn/dp/0312293143/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305879757&sr=1-4

11-07-2014, 11:21 AM
Owen Bennett-Jones, a BBC SME on South Asia, has a short article reviewing Pakistani national security as ISI gets a new Director:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-29903400

He starts with:
When he takes over the intelligence service ISI, Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar will become one of the two most powerful men in Pakistan, answerable only to the army chief.

Moderator's Note

This thread has been re-named to reflect the merging of three threads and that it is a collection on ISI (ends).

11-09-2014, 01:20 PM
When he takes over the intelligence service ISI, Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar will become one of the two most powerful men in Pakistan, answerable only to the army chief.

I don't think that this the case. Both Army chief and ISI director are independently powerful and neither report to each other. Case and point, Kargil fiasco and the 1999 coup.

Ziauddin has served as Director-General of Pakistan's premier intelligence agency ISI. He was nominated for the post of Pakistan Army chief on 12 Oct 1999 by then-Prime minister Nawaz Sharif after the dismissal of General Pervez Musharraf, who had begun a coup against the government.


Also, here's a discussion between Hamid Mir and Indian journalists. Couldn't find the relevant section so I am posting it here.


01-31-2015, 08:04 PM
This passage is taken from a long, five page commentary (on the main thread for the Pakistani Army, see Post 120 on:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=8282&page=6 )

General Rizwan Akhtar was commissioned into the 4th Frontier Force Regiment. He is considered a good officer by his peers. His career is also typical of senior officers reaching Lieutenant General rank with usual command, staff and instructional appointments. He commanded the 27th Infantry brigade of the 7th Infantry Division from 2005-07. However, all North Waziristan formations were essentially restricted to their posts and there were no offensive operations. The Army was busy cleaning the South Waziristan and the swamps of North Waziristan were rapidly filling with alligators of all shapes and hues. The Army high command was simply reacting to events on the ground with the result that it lost the support of local population in tribal areas. In 2011-12, he was GOC of the 9th Division operating in South Waziristan. He was Director General (DG) of the Sindh Rangers in 2012-14 and involved in the clean-up operation against criminal elements in the city of Karachi. In October 2014, he was promoted to Lieutenant General rank and appointed DGISI. In 2005 as Brigade commander in North Waziristan, he prepared a detailed report about the threats emanating from North Waziristan and response options. In 2008, while at the US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, Rizwan wrote his course paper on the U.S.-Pakistan trust deficit and the war on terror. He made several recommendations on how to bridge the gap in trust between Pakistan and the USA. Now as DGISI, his position enables him to address both these issues – only time will tell how successful he will be in this endeavor.

05-11-2015, 09:52 PM
Taken from a short obituary of Major General Ihtisham Zamir Jafri, who passed away in Rawalpindi on 04 May, 2015, by hamid Hussain (SWC contributor):
His most important assignment was when he was Deputy Director of Internal Security wing of Counter Intelligence (CI) section of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) from 2001 to 2003. In the aftermath of 11 September, 2001, relation between ISI and CIA was revived on an urgent basis. Ihtisham as DDG Internal Security played an important role in the capture of many high profile foreign terrorists. He was clear in his mind about the threat faced by Pakistan and at that time period ISI was operating in full gear against al-Qaeda. Robert Grenier was then CIA station chief of Islamabad. Deputy station chief was an old Afghan hand with firsthand knowledge of the region and he made a great team with Ihtisham. All the technical data collected by CIA from a variety of sources about specific targets was shared with ISI team in Islamabad. This was then passed on to the provincial heads of ISI in each province. Local intelligence teams further investigated initiated surveillance and then conducted raids to arrest culprits.

This good relationship that lasted for a short period was due to the fact that at that time United States was only interested in al-Qaeda and focus was only on foreign fighters. Any local fish caught in the net were simply handed over to Pakistanis to take care of them while foreigners were transported o Bagram air base with onward journey to Guantanamo Bay prison. American foot print in Afghanistan was limited to few dozen CIA paramilitary and Special Forces troops and Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba were somewhere in future. In his memoirs, Grenier didn’t use Ihtisham’s name due to personal security risk but now that Ihtisham has left the world, he doesn’t need to be anonymous. Grenier used a pseudo name of “Imran Zaman” using initials of I for Ihtesham and Z for Zamir.

05-17-2015, 07:55 PM
In this excerpt from The Great War of our Time: The CIA's Fight Against Terrorism (http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-War-Time-Terrorism-From/dp/1455585661), former CIA deputy director Mike Morell describes the relationship with Pakistan after the US raid on Osama Bin Laden.


11-19-2016, 10:32 PM
A retired Indian intelligence officer has reviewed a new book on ISI by a German author: Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan by Hein G. Kiesslin.

Near the start:
... which takes an incisive look into the organisation’s functioning. In Kiessling’s book, the ISI appears as a motley group of fractious and rapacious operatives with shifting domestic and foreign loyalties, whose motto swings between bluster, blackmail, acquiescence and perfidy. The ISI itself will not claim that Kiessling is a hostile writer. He lived in Quetta and Islamabad for 13 years from 1989 to 2002. For the book, Kiessling interviewed most former ISI chiefs..Link to the review:http://thewire.in/80819/delving-into-the-inner-workings-of-the-isi/

Being published by Hurst (UK) it is on:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Faith-Unity-Discipline-Inter-Service-Intelligence-Pakistan/dp/1849045178/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479594415&sr=1-1&keywords=Faith%2C+Unity%2C+Discipline%3A+The+ISI+o f+Pakistan

The publishers have two glowing reviews, one by Bruce Reidel (who has been cited here before IIRC):http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/faith-unity-discipline/

01-27-2018, 09:12 PM
The sub-title of a book review in 'The Guardian':
This sequel to Ghost Wars might well become the definitive account of the CIA and America’s secret wars in Afghanistan and PakistanHere is a sample passage:
Directorate S, from which the book gets its title, lies buried deep in the bureaucracy of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), Pakistan’s spy agency. Ensconced thus, the directorate works to “enlarge Pakistan’s sphere of influence in Afghanistan”. It goes about this task, Coll explains, by supplying, arming, training and generally seeking to legitimise the Taliban, the AK-47 toting terrorists who took over Afghanistan in 1992, stringing up decapitated corpses in town squares and shoving women into the confines of their homes. Nobody paid much attention then, and perhaps never would have, had the Taliban not become host to Osama bin Laden.Link:https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/24/directorate-s-steve-coll-review?

06-10-2018, 09:35 AM
There are two reviews of a new book on the Indian-Pakistani intelligence relationship and wider issues on the Pakistani Military thread. See:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?8282-Pakistani-Army-commentary&p=211777#post211777

07-07-2018, 07:19 PM
A devastating IMHO review of Steve Coll's book (see Post 37) by Edward Luttwak, although it's real focus is the CIA (the other half of the relationship). There several illustrations why:
abysmal “tradecraft”...Raymond Davis had a bank statement listing the CIA as his employer in his car when he was arrested by local police in Lahore on January 27, 2011....the linguistic incompetence of almost all CIA analysts that really matters – an incompetence that goes right to the top....secretaries of state and generals seem to have believed that the cultures of Afghanistan are flexible, fluid and malleable..

He ends with:
ntelligence is an ancillary function, so it may be that the CIA’s systemic shortcomings are irrelevant to the preordained outcome in Afghanistan. This does not diminish the virtues of Steve Coll’s excellent book – a rem#arkable feat of extended reportage soundly constructed out of telling details and a great number of effective character portraits.

08-28-2018, 12:16 PM
Our occasional contributor Hamid Hussain has provided this review.

Steve Coll’s new book is an excellent account of events of the last two decades in Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Steve has all the credentials to embark on this project. He is one of the best and well-informed journalists and his previous book ‘Ghost Wars’ is the most authentic work of the history of Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) war in Afghanistan in 1980s. For his new book, he has used important American sources from different departments of the US government who engaged with Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has also used some Afghan and few Pakistani sources, but it is mainly an American perspective of the events. There is real need for work on the Pakistani and Afghan perspective which would be a far more difficult task.
The book is about events in the Af-Pak region and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) gets a lot of attention. Relations between the CIA and ISI are not black and white. In the aftermath of September 11, the majority of ISI officers were leery about too close cooperation with US and especially with the CIA. On the other hand, especially in early phase of 2001-2003, a small cadre of ISI officers viewed foreign fighters as serious threat to Pakistan’s security and wanted to use this opportunity of close cooperation with the CIA to neutralize this threat. In this period of convergence of interest the sole focus was al Qaeda, there was close cooperation and certain degree of trust between the ground operatives of both agencies. In addition to the CIA Islamabad station there were satellite facilities in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar which housed several dozen personnel from different US intelligence agencies especially technical intelligence staff. The CIA used its technical superiority in surveillance, while ISI used its human sources to dismantle al Qaeda in the region.
There were many thoughtful ISI officers who provided analysis of possible scenarios for US intervention in Afghanistan at a time when everyone was raising Champaign glasses for a victory toast. Some CIA officers agreed with this ISI point of view especially regarding the Pashtun question of Afghanistan. In the winter of 2001, CIA station chief in Islamabad Robert Grenier saw the American dilemma better than many of his colleagues. He agreed with military action but understood Pakistan’s position.
CIA Director George Tenet’s Chief of Staff John Brennan agreed with some of Grenier’s analysis. However, they were in minority and events unfolded differently. There were others like former Islamabad station chief Milton Bearden who thought that given enough time, the Taliban might give up Bin Laden thus avoiding a military mission, however there were no customers in Washington who were willing to buy this item.
Predictably, the CIA exaggerated, while ISI downplayed the role of ISI in Afghanistan and the truth is somewhere in the middle. ISI was unclear about the US mission in Afghanistan as well as feeling hurt by the CIA’s last mission and its fallout was not enthusiastic to jump on American wagon in haste. The Director General of Analysis (DG-A) at ISI then Major General Javed Alam (later Lieutenant General) admitted that less than a dozen ISI officers were working in Afghanistan prior to American invasion. He also disclosed that most of the Pakistanis who went to Afghanistan to defend the collapsing Taliban regime in the winter of 2001 were from Southern Punjab. He wryly commented that most of them died and ‘they got their just deserts’.
Later, mistrust between Pakistan and US widened and involved all the agencies. ISI had some influence in Afghanistan and some of its policies contributed to the instability in that country. However, to blame ISI for all American follies in Afghanistan is incorrect and unfair. ISI is a huge bureaucracy with a very mixed past. It is not a monolithic entity and there is wide range of opinion amongst senior and mid-level officers. The aura of playing in the ‘big league’ gives the agency a clout in internal and external policies but it comes with a price that it is also blamed for sins of others.
Steve provides details of the genuine difference of opinion on policy matters as well as turf wars of US government agencies. This provides a window into the US decision making process and the impact of institutional and personal friction on policies on the ground. We tend to generalize government policies for easy comprehension and ignore these subtle changes. Steve provides this perspective as far as the US decision making process is concerned. There is no serious attempt to understand the similar case of Pakistan. In my own work on the Pakistan army, I found similar challenges of Pakistani decision makers. The Army brass was reluctant to share details with civilian governments, especially when Asif Ali Zardari was President. In the army, there was friction between officers involved in operations against militants and intelligence officers. Professionally competent and confident officers took charge of the operations and realized that some ISI policies were detrimental to ongoing operations. These officers relied less on ISI and kept intelligence officers at arm’s length. On the other hand, officers who were less confident relied more on ISI. I found the former lot much more successful than the later.
There is a small error in caption of a 2005 picture about Pakistan on first page of pictures. Caption wrongly identifies two Pakistani army officers flanking Colonel David Smith as Lieutenant General Tariq Majid and Major General Asif Akhtar. The officers are then Lieutenant General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Lieutenant General Muhammad Yusuf.
This book should be on the reading list of anyone interested in the Af-Pak region. It is summary of major events of the last two decades that affected Pakistan and Afghanistan and Steve takes us on this journey as an informed guide. It covers events as seen from the tall citadels of power of Washington to individuals who do the “heavy lifting like mules in a big caravan.” For a thoughtful reader, it is a sober and humbling reading of limits of power.

10-01-2018, 12:39 PM
Thanks to Hamid Hussain:
Former Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (DGISI) Lieutenant General ® Asad Durrani’ s memoirs Pakistan Adrift will be released in Pakistan in the second week of October 2018. It is a memoir of a former DGISI and ambassador and his perspective about events of the last two decades.
Durrani is considered a cerebral officer by his peers and had a good career profile. Like most officers in the business of intelligence, the most controversial part of his career was his stint as head of Military Intelligence (MI) and ISI. This book is his perspective about the events but provides the reader an insight into the dynamics of power at the higher echelons. He is candid in accepting his own mistakes especially role in distributing money to politicians. Supreme Court of Pakistan is hearing this case.

Two segments about his stint as ambassador to Germany and Saudi Arabia are his views about these two societies. The most interesting segment is the chapter on terrorism when he seriously discusses the subject, its various shades and the use of this term by various states to pursue their own interests. He also elaborates on the consequences of recent destructive policy of United States of dismantling fragile states that has unleashed new demons. Very little academic and policy discussion has been devoted to this crucial subject that has made world more dangerous, violent and unstable.

Durrani devoted a significant segment towards the issue of Afghanistan. His own personal experience as DGISI and observations on later events where he had some contact in the form of ‘track two’ parleys accurately reflects thought process of majority of Pakistani officers. This view is based on a genuine national security interest of Pakistan about its western neighbor as country bears the fallout directly. As these officers interact with Afghans in official capacities therefore they sometimes get blindsided. Pakistan has influence over some Afghan clients, but Afghans are very good at playing one against the other. They survived as an independent nation based on mastering this art. Amir Dost Muhammad Khan’s letters to Czar of Russia, Shah of Persia and British Viceroy of India in nineteenth century sums up the foreign policy of the country. A good friend of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai told me in 2002 what Afghans thought about the new phase? Many key Afghan players were of the view that ‘in the previous round, neighbors played their game and we ran away from the country. This time around, we are staying put and if neighbors don’t behave, we have sworn that we will make sure that the winds of chaos will not stay in Afghanistan but blow in the other direction’. Afghan and Pakistan liaisons with Americans in Kabul share a space. At prayer time, Afghans always insist that Pakistani counterpart lead the prayer. A Pakistani can be seriously mistaken by this gesture. When with Americans, Afghans are unanimous in their view that real problem is not Afghanistan but Pakistan. Like any other intelligence agency, ISI is a large bureaucratic organization and not monolithic. Mid-level officers of the organization may have a unique perspective about an event and in some cases not in agreement with policies adopted by the high command. My own work on the subject to get opinion of the boss and his subordinate about a given event or policy provided some limited insight about many shades of grey.

In this work, Durrani is confident in claiming that ‘since leaving service, I have spilled a few beans, so to speak, but not once have I been cautioned or charged with indiscretion’. This claim was severely tested recently. Three months ago, his informal conversations with former Indian intelligence chief about diverse topics were published in a book ‘The Spy Chronicles’ that caused an uproar in Pakistan. He was severely criticized and, in some cases, abused by his uniformed colleagues. Pakistan army headquarters summoned him for explanation and an inquiry was initiated. Hopefully this work will help in understanding his views and not add more indiscretions to his charge sheet.

Durrani’ s book provides a useful insight into the thought process of senior brass. Shaky civil-military relations with deep mistrust on both sides is explained by Durrani with many anecdotes. Recent events have shown that this Achilles heel of Pakistan has not shown any sign of improvement. In view of the recent events of Pakistan and in the neighborhood, it looks that Pakistan’s policy has been consistent about what it views as its core interests. This book should be on the reading list of those interested in Pakistan.

Asad Durrani. Pakistan Adrift: Navigating Troubled Waters (London: Hurst & Company), 2018, pp. 273

02-07-2019, 05:50 AM
A review of Directorate S from Major Amin, now up at Brownpundits.


What we have is an interesting narrative but no subtle analysis. Passing references to US lack of strategic insight but no details.

What Coll fails to admit or openly state is that the entire US war in Afghanistan was an exercise in massive self deception . Since the US lacked the strategic resolution to confront the Pakistani state , it fooled itself and its public with vague entities like Al Qaeda, which never was a serious player in Af Pak.

Coll refuses to see the hard and harsh picture that 90 % US casualties in actual fighting were caused by ISI proxies and not Al Qaeda.

It is a harsh admission that whole nations and states and this includes a super power like USA can go on deceiving themselves and their public and Steve Coll's massive and exhaustive gargantuan book offers no definite conclusions.

04-22-2019, 01:52 PM
Amil Khan, aka 'Londonistani', has a review of Assad Durrani's book in a recent Chatham House journal and he ends with:
Ultimately, Pakistan Adriftoffers a rare glimpse into the mechanics of power in the upper echelons of the country’s decision-making apparatus, and it is tantalizing to think how the Troika is reacting to the premiership of Imran Khan, who brings with him a popular appeal that is sure to unsettle the balance between the main parties.

Link to a two pg. PDF:https://www.chathamhouse.org/system/files/images/twt/Intel%20on%20Pakistan%20from%20the%20top%20%20Amil %20Khan.pdf