September 27, 2021

General Walter Cawthorn And The Origins of The ISI

The legacy of Pakistan’s ISI is one of lies, war crimes, and genocide.

It has done a lot worse than anything ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or the Taliban have ever done. 

Its list of national and international crimes includes military coups, sponsorship of terrorism, political assassinations, civic repression, torture, destruction of democratic institutions, intimidation of the press, management of the heroin trade, money laundering, inhumane treatment of Afghan refugees, human trafficking, violence against ethnic and religious minorities, just to name a few.

Organizations like the ISI, which was modeled after the MI6 and CIA, are not created with evil purposes in mind. Their creators envisioned a limited role for them, but with power comes the thirst for more power.

What began as a legitimate and understandable venture between a fellowship of minds to respond to the military and self-defense needs of the new nation grew over time into a monster that became the nation, or so it tells itself to justify its endless expansion.

The ISI's evolution is not unlike that of the CIA's own metamorphosis from a strictly intelligence gathering agency to a secret empire that touches every face of the globe. The difference is the ISI is more brazen, and obviously not as well funded so the terrorists it manages could one day overrun them and their little fiefdom they call a country.


An excerpt from, "The Taliban Story: A brief history of troublemaker ISI (Part16)" by Arun Anand, The Nationalist View, September 15, 2021:

The ISI was established by an Australia born British officer Major General Walter Joseph Cawthorne who headed it from January to June 1948. There are many theories about the reason for setting up of ISI.  In a nutshell, there were two reasons that led to establishment of ISI-first, Pakistan’s crushing defeat in the 1947-48 war with India over Kashmir where severe intelligence gaps hurt the Pakistan’s campaign and second, to serve the British political interests in the post-colonial period.

. . .The Melbourne-born Cawthorne was an experienced intelligence expert. (He) fought in the first World War with Australian troops in Turkey (Gallipoli), France and Belgium. In 1919, he joined the British Indian Army and participated in fighting in the North-West Frontier province against the Mohmand tribes in 1930 and 1935. During the second World War he was Head of Middle East Intelligence Centre (1939-41); then Director of Intelligence, Indian Command (1941-45); and Deputy Director of Intelligence, South East Asia Command (1943-45). After Partition (of India and Pakistan) in 1947, Cawthorne opted for the service in the new Pakistan Army; in 1951 he was promoted from Major General to Deputy Chief of Staff. 

Cawthorne remained connected with Pakistan even after leaving military service in 1951. After an interlude as Director of Joint Intelligence Bureau, Department of Defense, Australia, he was posted as the first Australian High Commissioner in Karachi (1954-58). His last posting was as High Commissioner in Ottawa, Canada (1959-60). He died in 1970 in Australia.

On the evolution of the ISI:

By the 1980s, ISI had overruled its mandate and had started getting transformed into the deep state- a state within the nation-state of Pakistan. By 1990s, it became the key mentor of terrorism and helped it export to the world through various radical Islamic outfits. It started controlling the fate of Pakistan’s political establishment to a large extent. Over a period of time, it became key enabler for Islamic terror groups across the world and continues to do so. It is directly driven by the Pakistan military’s top leadership.

On the importance of the heroin trade for the ISI's budget and Pakistan’s economy:

In fact, after the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan, the ISI-backed drug trade went from strength to strength. The proceeds contributed to the purchase of weapons and the stabilization of Pakistan’s budget, which could have been totally shattered without the heroin money, according to expert opinion.

. . . In the 2010 report of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, heroin exports from Afghanistan each year amount to some 3750 tons, half of which is exported via Baluchistan (in Pakistan).

You can read more about General Cawthorn from the "Australian Dictionary of Biography" written by Peter Hohnen. An excerpt:

Holding the local rank of colonel, in 1939 'Bill' Cawthorn (as he was familiarly known) took charge of the Middle East Intelligence Centre in Cairo. In 1941 he became director of military intelligence at General Headquarters, India, and was later an acting (temporary) major general. From October he held the additional post of deputy-director of intelligence, South East Asia Command. 

Recommended by his friend R. G. (Baron) Casey, the governor of Bengal, Cawthorn was sent to Melbourne in 1946 as Indian representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia. From 1948 to 1951 he was deputy chief of staff of the army of newly-independent Pakistan, and forged strong links with local political and military leaders. In 1952 he was appointed director of the Joint Intelligence Bureau, a liaison section in the Department of Defence, Melbourne. Seeking 'a better outlet for Cawthorn's talents', Casey—now minister for external affairs—selected him for a five-year posting (1954-59) as Australian high commissioner to Pakistan. During Cawthorn's term the two countries were to enjoy close ties. Casey visited Karachi in 1956 and noted that, as a result of Cawthorn's rapport with 'top Pakistanis', 'we are much better informed than the much larger diplomatic posts'. Governor-General Iskander Mirza told Casey: 'We have no secrets from Bill Cawthorn'.

Pakistan's ISI Explained | Magna Indica with Rishabh Gulati | NewsX. Date Posted: October 13, 2019.