Hein G. Kiessling. 2016. Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan

Date01 December 2018
Published date01 December 2018
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 331
Wang, Z. (2007). Constructing soft power for socialism harmonious society. Beijing:
Renming Publisher.
Feng Renjie
Ph.D. Candidate
Center for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament
Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
E-mail: fengrenjie0801@gmail.com
Hein G. Kiessling. 2016.
Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan
London: Hurst. 307 pp. ISBN: 978-1-84904-517-9
DOI: 10.1177/2347797018799891
There is plenty of literature available on Pakistani politics, history and civil–
military relations. However, there have been comparatively fewer detailed studies
on Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, especially the Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI). Essentially, the literature on the ISI falls into two basic camps. The first
seeks to demonize the agency in some form. Notable examples include Krishna
Dhar’s Fulcrum of Evil: ISI–CIA–Al Qaeda Nexus, S. K. Ghosh’s Pakistan’s ISI:
Network of Terror in India, Bhure Lal’s The Monstrous Face of ISI and B. Raman’s
Intelligence: Past, Present and Future, which all take an Indian nationalist view
of ISI’s role in Kashmir, Northeast India and Afghanistan. Moreover, these
accounts lack in-depth analysis of the internal organizational structure, financial
mechanism and institutional capacity of the ISI. In contrast, the second camp typi-
cally approaches the ISI in a more neutral or, at least, professional way. For exam-
ple, Sean P. Winchell’s ‘Pakistan’s ISI: The Invisible Government’ and Owen L.
Sirrs’s Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate expose the internal intri-
cacies of this otherwise formidable force which has been, for decades, at the cen-
tre of policymaking in Pakistan.
Kiessling’s recent book, Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan, falls into
the second category, at least in the sense that it clearly does not consider the ISI
inherently evil. Importantly, the present manuscript is seemingly an improved
version of his 2011 book on India’s (foreign intelligence) Research and Analysis
Wing and ISI. Based on Kiessling’s 13-year (1989–2002) lived experience in
Pakistan, the book is divided into small but easy-to-understand chapters (21 in
number) besides introduction, postscript and appendices. Two of the appendices
are provided to the author by the ISI demonstrating that it is able to communicate
its perspective, especially on counter terrorism.
Kiessling begins his analysis with ISI’s origins, identifying that it was estab-
lished as a small-scale organization in 1948 by Australian-born British General
and spymaster Walter Joseph Cawthorne (pp. 14–15). Cawthorne, who was hired
by the Pakistani Army, had already conceived Soviet Russia as a strategic threat
to the British interests in South Asia and the Middle East. Thus, his desire was to

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