Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why I think RAW wins against ISI?

I grew up listening to praise for the armed forces of Pakistan and the idea that we have one of the best intelligence agencies, namely Inter-services Intelligence (ISI)However, since the May 1, 2011 incident I have been thinking if the ISI is really the best, or we are supposed to think it is the best. We all know how easy it is to get away with security checks in Pakistan because at one point everyone has done this.

Here’s a personal anecdote. In 2009, I visited Islamabad with some friends and we were going to Trail 5 for which we had to cross the red-zone, the high security area. Two of us did not have the ID cards, so the Rangers sent us back. However, our taxi driver told us not to worry, and he drove around all the check points and dropped us in the lane from where we were hardly on a 5 minute walking distance from ‘Trail 5’ entrance. Nobody checked our ID cards since we were pedestrians. The privilege seemed to be reserved only for the people in vehicles.

Anyway, moving ahead before I digress too much. The ISI has a notorious reputation. How much of that is actually true, we might never find out, but with that reputation around, it is very understandable for us to doubt whether Osama’s presence was with the ISI’s consent and protection, or not.

This brings me to why I think that the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has won against the Pakistani ISI. It's pretty simple. When Indians say that the ISI was involved in a terrorist attack on their land, their public believes them, but when Pakistan says RAW was involved, we think it's not possible. It is because the Pakistani establishment brainwashed us with a lot of lying. It made us think Pakistan won the wars against the evil, good-for-nothing ‘banyas’. That rhetoric ultimately played in the hands of the Indians, and why should it not?

A good spy agency would stay low key to avoid discovery as well as direct involvement, which cannot be said of the ISI. Having formed an alliance with the CIA, which looking at the CIA’s track record is not a big deal (one only needs to bait them with some anti-communist bullshit), the card ISI played with its own public, was played by the world - The best secret service agency. The ISI lived with this rhetoric for so long, that people directly involved actually started believing this idea too. Now whether the ISI is the best intelligence agency, capable of many tricks is true or not, it still gets accused of a lot of shit happening around the world, including its own territory. In that, the RAW wins and have bested the ISI. Be it in Baluchistan, Afghanistan or China, the blame will stay with ISI.


  1. And the only way the ISI can prove it's "the best" is to pick up the author of this post. Problem solved. What say you, ISI?

  2. The question of which agency is better is like choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

    Other questions are more important, beginning with defining what policies agencies should set for themselves and what larger policies should they merely serve as advisors on. Also, what is national security and do the missions of these agencies support national security in the fullest sense? If security includes the protection of soil and natural resources, which are tangible assets (albeit poorly recognized) then neither Tweedledum nor Tweedledee has shown up for work yet.

    If the greatest threat to cities by the sea is sea-level rise, then how well are Tweedledum and Tweedledee addressing this threat? Are they even thinking about it? Are they alerting politicians and advising on options for infrastructure protection and strategic retreat?

    In the words of the nursery rhyme:

    Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
    For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

    Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
    As black as a tar-barrel;
    Which frightened both the heroes so,
    They quite forgot their quarrel.