Tag Archives: Inter-Services Intelligence

Pakistan is in pieces

[There is plenty here to stimulate a robust debate; Not that surprising, considering who the author is. PTH does not necessarily agree with the views expressed in this article.]

Belfast Telegraph, Tuesday, 6 April 2010             By Robert Fisk

I tried, in Pakistan, to define the sorrow which so constantly afflicts this country. The massive loss of life, the poverty, the corruption, the internal and external threats to its survival, the existentialism of Islam and the power of the army; perhaps Pakistan’s story can only be told in a novel. It requires, I suspect, a Tolstoy or a Dostoyevsky.

Pakistan ambushes you. The midday heat is also beginning to ambush all who live in Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province. Canyons of fumes grey out the vast ramparts of the Bala Hisar fort.

“Headquarters Frontier Force” is written on the ancient gateway. I notice the old British cannon on the heights – and the spanking new anti-aircraft gun beside it, barrels deflected to point at us, at all who enter this vast metropolis of pain. There are troops at every intersection, bullets draped in belts over their shoulders, machine guns on tripods erected behind piles of sandbags, the sights of AK-47s brushing impersonally across rickshaws, and rubbish trucks and buses with men clinging to the sides. There are beards that reach to the waist. The soldiers have beards, too, sometimes just as long.

I am sitting in a modest downstairs apartment in the old British cantonment. A young Peshawar journalist sits beside me, talking in a subdued but angry way, as if someone is listening to us, about the pilotless American aircraft which now slaughter by the score – or the four score – along the Afghanistan border. “I was in Damadola when the drones came. They killed more than 80 teenagers – all students – and, yes they were learning the Koran, and the madrasah, the Islamic school, was run by a Taliban commander. But 80! Many of them came from Bajaur, which would be attacked later. Their parents came afterwards, all their mothers were there, but the bodies were in pieces. There were so many children, some as young as 12. We didn’t know how to fit them together.” Continue reading



Filed under Army, Colonialism, Democracy, History, Identity, India, Judiciary, Pakistan, Partition

A profile of the ISI (Pakistan’s best known secret)

We are publishing this excellent academic piece by Dr Ishtiaq, a renowned scholar who does not castigate the ISI the way mainstream Western media does. It is a cool, level-headed analysis with some pertinent conclusions.

The Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence: A Profile

Ishtiaq Ahmed[1]

 In the past few weeks, Pakistan has come under intense pressure from the United States, Afghanistan and India to curb alleged involvement of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in terrorist activities. Such pressure has built rapidly in the aftermath of bomb blasts, some carried out by suicide bombers, in July 2008 in many parts of South Asia. Those outrages caused well over a hundred deaths. Much before the recent attacks, the ISI’s power and influence in politics had gained it the reputation of “a state within a state”, suggesting that Pakistani governments, especially those formed by civilians, have little or no control over its activities. The ISI rejects such accusations, claiming that it is a professional organisation dedicated fully to gathering intelligence that would strengthen Pakistan’s national survival and security.

 Existing literature on spy agencies is replete with data suggesting that acting irregularly and even in illegal ways is not unusual for such organisations. Even in stable and strong democracies, governments are not always fully in control of them and they can set up their agenda rather freely. Charges that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation sometimes act in defiance of United States governments have been made several times, but since such organisations work in great secrecy, it is not easy to find solid corroborative evidence against them that can show that they do act against the will of the government. However, the general assumption underlying the functioning of such entities is that they act under a coherent chain of command, and, in principle, their activities are purported to enhance national security. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan