What's The SD on the Pakistani ISI?

Pakistan and the USA are rather strange allies-the USA needs Pakistan (to supply its forces in Afghanistan), and also as a counterweight to India (which is close to the Russian orbit). The CIA has long suspected that the Pakistani intelligence service (the ISI) has been compromised-many of its leaders are close to muslim extremists, and hence, sharing intelligence is seen as risky. So I have some factual questions:
(1) Has it ever been proven that the ISI has compromised USA intelligence?
(2) has the ISI (in the past) actively protected either Bin Laden or Al Queda?
(3)has the ISI assisted the Afghanistan insurgents?

What? Why does the US need any counter weight to India? It’s the world’s largest democracy and a fast growing capitalist society. We’re not living in the 1950’s anymore and even then India was Non-Aligned, it was never “close to the Russian orbit”.

As for factual answers on the ISI, good luck finding any unbiased sources that don’t have an axe to grind one way or the other.

A good book about the ISI from an insider perspective is the book “Profiles in Intelligence” by Syed A.I Tirmizi. Published mid 1990’s so a little out of date, but a very good resource.

India buys most of its arms from Russia and its coalition governments invariably have significant participation by (both large and small S) socialist parties. In any event, long term US foreign policy isn’t about defending democracy for its own sake. It’s about defending American interests. Sometimes that means we want to promote democracy and pal around with democratic states. Sometimes it doesn’t*.

In the specific case of India, the democratically elected government is not necessarily good for US interests.

It is a bit silly to think that the US needs Pakistan as “a counterweight”, though. If anything, India serves as a counterweight to China (which itself is very closely allied with Pakistan).

*see Iran, pre-1979.

Yeah, even before 9/11 there was little doubt that the US generally sided more often with India in most India-Pakistan issues. Because of its long British colonial history (and it being Hindu not Muslim) India is far more ‘westernized’ than Pakistan. Our relationship with the Pakistani govt post-9/11 is strained at best. They (like Russia) knew better than to try and seriously hinder our pursuit of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Not only because they had little choice, but Muslim or not they were happy to see the Taliban crushed too, lest they one day set their sights on Pakistani territory.

No matter how you slice it, it will continue to be, ah, complicated…

You do not know your sub continental history at all Hail Ants. Pakistan was also a British colony, it was carved out of British India after all. And from what I have seen, India is as westernized as Pakistan ( whatever the hell that means) no more no less and in colonial times being “westernized” was not a issue of being Muslim or Hindu. As for the pre 9-11 times, during the ColdWar, Pakistan was aligned with the Western bloc, India was non aligned/ friendly to the Soviets. None of this is pertinent the the question asked in the OP, but frankly I have to say the sub continent might as well be in Saturn for as much knowledge most posters here have of it here, as typified by Hail Ants’s post above.

There is very good reason to believe that the ISI has compromised US intelligence. NYT story

There are lots of links that show the ISI has supported al qaeda and/or Afghan insurgents in the past Here’s one quick google result - Reuters

It’s decidedly true that the US doesn’t need a counter weight to India, both countries now think of the other as natural strategic partners. However, in the past, India while theoretically non-aligned was definitely close to the Soviet orbit. It was a function of the times. Intellectual leaders in a large poor heterogeneous country were told of a model that was providing immense gains in another large poor heterogeneous country(Soviet Union) and they decided to adopt that model. It’s a different matter that it was unsustainable growth, and ultimately the US and India have become closer, but there was a definite tilt towards the Soviet Union between 1960-1985 or so, post which it started shifting.

I don’t think it’s true that India buys most of its arms from Russia anymore. I think it’s fairly evenly spread around between Europe, Israel, US and Russia. And while there were some Communist parties that are knee jerk opposed to the US, they’ve been reduced to irrelevance and I think that trend will only accelerate once their current crop of ideological leaders dies out. I think at least part of India’s positive relations with the US are driven by our very large(and successful) diaspora, and that has driven and will continue to drive good relations. Would you clarify on why “In the specific case of India, the democratically elected government is not necessarily good for US interests.” ? If you mean that it won’t always toe the US line, then yes, sure. There is far more co-operation than there has been in the past though.

I like to believe that the US sided with India because we were right. YMMV :slight_smile: Couple of things -
As AK84 has pointed out, Pakistan and India have pretty much the same colonial history. In fact, I think during the 60’s and 70’s, Pakistani cities were probably more westernised than Indian ones, because Pakistan was an official ally of the west. In the last two or three decades of course, Pakistan’s increasing turn to religion has meant this is no longer true. While I haven’t been to Pakistan, I know some Indians who have recently. One very good friend of mine (a muslim, incidentally) said he experienced several culture shocks in Karachi that he wasn’t expecting, in terms of how conservative it was.
Also, India is not Hindu, it is a secular republic. We have occasional problems with that, but we try anyway.
Third, Pakistan was most decidedly not happy to see Taliban being crushed. Pakistan was pretty much allied with the Taliban and, AFAIK, can take at least partial credit(?) for the Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan.

While Hail Ants may not be quite on top of things, I’ve found many posters to be reasonably well informed, some prodigiously so. The secret to not being disappointed? Go in with low expectations :slight_smile:

Could you give a synopsis or gist of the book?

It’s true that the MOD is trying to broaden procurement sources, but it’s not actually happening. Other than the recent agreement-in-principle to purchase Rafale fighters from France (which will probably take another 10 years to complete), virtually all of India’s major equipment purchases are Russian. T-90 tanks, Su-30 and MiG-29 aircraft, nuclear submarines, the messy Vikramaditya aircraft carrier project, AK clone rifles…

The usual approach now seems to be buying heavy equipment from Russian and then sourcing subsystems from everyone else.

I suspect this has a lot to do with the US nuclear test embargoes, though.

It has more to do with DRDO being bloody idiots and promising much more than they can deliv.

He was an army officer and he was seconded to ISI (much to his extreme annoyance). He was initially in counter intelligence and later ran agents world over, which was unusual as usually military officers in ISI stay in CI and Analysis, and let the professional spooks run things, he suspects he was chosen as foreign agencies would not suspect him. He ran agents in operations on several continents and the book details that with various chapter talking about operations in a specific area and also using that background to give his a background and analysis of the main intelligence agencies in the region. You don’t usually get all the details of the operations but you do learn quite a lot.

That explains why India is buying foreign-sourced military equipment, rather than why it is buying it from Russia.

If I remember correctly Russian equipment has a much faster contract to induction time, Su30MKI was inked in 1997 and the IOC was achieved in 2002. OTH a decade for western systems is fairly standard. Plus India has the logistic infrastructure and support for Russian equipment.

Right, but that’s because India was buying it in the first place. It also doesn’t explain purchases like the the MiG-29K, which was a shelved project that was reopened specifically for the Indian navy.

Bolded part is not valid anymore. We(India) are friends with everyone bar Pakistan. Closer to USA than to China although the trade with China is larger. As far as Pakistan and ISI are concerned watch this Documentary by BBC showing involvement of Pakistani Military and Intelligence services(ISI) in supporting the Taliban against USA:
part 1 and part 2

Thanks for the links…very sobering. With allies like Pakistan, who needs enemies?