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Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Apr 24th, 2021

The Inter-service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan manages vital information related to the country’s national security (Mohiuddin, 2007). Gen William Cawthome established the ISI in the year 1947 during the Indo-Pakistan war. The institution was formed to solve the problem of the intelligence failure in the collection of information and because of lack of coordination among the Pakistani forces. Around the the1950s, President Ayub Khan increased the importance of the institution by allowing it to oversee the opposition’s politics and the country’s military actions (Oakley & Gady, 2009). Ever since then, the ISI has collaborated with other intelligence bodies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In this paper, a critique about an article focusing on the Pakistan Inter-service Intelligence is provided.

In the article, the author asserts that the institution has defended the national security of Pakistan. I do not agree with the writer’s arguments because the organization has failed in the management of the Pakistan intelligence service. I believe that it does not focus enough on fulfilling its mandate. As such, the institution has been manipulated by the past dictators and wars. For instance, the President of Pakistan Ayub Khan tried to improve the organization by enhancing its roles during his reign. From then on, the ISI was expected to be a self-governed and self-managed company since it was no longer obliged to either the president or the leadership within the army of Pakistan (Oakley & Gady, 2009). However, that is not the case because the government still has a huge influence on the institution. Equally, I believe that the Pakistan Inter-service Intelligence has diverted from its mandate. Currently, it is marred with cases of corruption, which include narcotics peddling among the ISI leaders and staff. In addition, there is a huge amount of money flowing within the ISI, which cannot be accounted for transparently (Ghosh, 2000). I believe that the money collected from drug selling is used by the ISI to fuel the ongoing wars in Kashmir against India.

In my opinion, the ISI misses its fundamental role of defending Pakistan’s national security when they engage in the above-mentioned activities. Therefore, the author should have highlighted how the institution acted in external wars in Afghanistan and India. Equally, the researcher should have acknowledged that the ISI failed to collect the intelligence information required by the Pakistan government regarding the political opposition leaders, drug peddling, and financing of military groups (Waldman, 2010). I believe that the ISI lacks accountability, which is necessary for its efficient management of the intelligence organization.

In the article, the author points out how the ISI came to collaborate with the CIA. The author goes further to reveal that Zulfikar Bhutto was overthrown by the ISI in collaboration with the Central Intelligence Agency. I believe that the author should have pointed out the reasons for the CIA’s involvement in overthrowing the government to substantiate his or her claims.

As asserted by the author, I believe that ISI intensely engaged in the country’s political affairs in the past. For instance, the major intelligence crisis arose in the 1965 War at Kashmir (Tenet, 2007). During that period, the ISI devoted much of their time and resources to tracking telephone calls of the local political opponents, hence failing to gather foreign and domestic intelligence information required by the government of Pakistan. In addition, General Yahya Kahn ensured that no political party had been given an overall majority during the general elections. It was until the late 1950s when Martial Law was publicized that the president acquired full power over the institution and relevant intelligence groups. As a result, it led to rivalry among the three intelligence organizations as each one tried to demonstrate loyalty to both the government and President Ayub Khan. The institution became efficient during 1990 under the management of Hameed Gul (Oakley & Gady, 2009).

On the issue of ethics and morality of the institution, the writer gives an excuse that since the ISI are Pakistan citizens and the monolithic structure of the organization, then they should not be compared with the American CIA officers (Tenet, 2007). This is wrong because I believe that Pakistani and American intelligence services are required to portray similar ethics and morals. Nevertheless, the writer acknowledges that at some point, the ISI compromised their intelligence information. I believe that all the ISI officers should provide accurate information for the security of Pakistan’s people. I agree that all the ISI officers should obey the rules of the nation, respectfully interact with the civilians, and be accountable to the president and army leaders.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the ISI’s main objective involves monitoring foreign parties and their actions, gathering information to aid in making decisions, and solving problems related to the national security of the government. However, the writer has not pointed out how the institution achieves the above objectives during the entire encounter with the ISI of Pakistan.


Ghosh, S. (2000). Pakistan’s ISI: network of terror in India. New Delhi: A.P.H. Pub.Corp.

Mohiuddin, Y. N. (2007). Pakistan a global studies handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif.:ABC-CLIO.

Oakley, R. B., & Gady, F. (2009). Radicalization by choice ISI and the Pakistani army. Washington, D.C.: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University.

Tenet, G. (2007). At the center of the storm: my years at the CIA. New York:HarperCollins Publishers.

Waldman, M. (2010). The sun in the sky the relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and Afghan insurgents. London, England: Crisis States Research Centre.

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