Book Review: Faith, Unity, Discipline – The Inter-Service Intelligence of Pakistan by Hein G. Kiessling

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Commonly known by its three-letter acronym, this organisation is held by its enemies, and even some allies, responsible for most of the trouble and instability in South Asia, as well as in its own Pakistan. But how did the ISI acquire this reputation, is it really part of an uncontrollable “deep state”, and did it know – and how much – of 9/11, 26/11 and Osama bin Laden’s hideout?

Ascertaining intelligence agencies’ roles in national or international events is always difficult, due to their secretive functioning, a vested interest in portraying themselves as effective, and an inclination to maintain “deniability”. On the other hand, there is also the opponents’ propensity to view them through the prism of own predilections or ‘national interest’, blame them reflexively for almost everything and ascribe to them capabilities they may not even possess.

The latter is especially true of the ISI from an Indian view – and even of its Pakistani critics.

But offering possibly the first-ever, full-length – and fairly neutral – look at Pakistan’s largest spy agency from its origins to the present, with opinions and responses from the agency itself, as well as key players from the Zia ul-Haq era to the present, is German political scientist Hein Kiessling in this book. Read more


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