Pakistan ISI

By | December 18, 2021

The ISI: a state within a state

ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) was founded in 1948 to coordinate d’ functions intelligence of the army, navy and air. It is the most powerful and best known of the three Pakistani services, which also include the Intelligence Bureau (Ib) and Military Intelligence (Mi). The agency has experienced mixed fortunes over the years, depending on the relationship established from time to time with other state bodies. In the 1950s, during the presidency of Ayub Khan, the ISI increased its role of controlling opposition politicians, carving out an ever wider and more and more marginal space of official state institutions. The agency underwent a first reorganization in 1966, after the poor performance reported by intelligence during the 1965 war with India, and a further enlargement in 1969, when President Khan entrusted the ISI with the task of working in the eastern regions of the country. In the seventies, during the government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the agency lost part of its importance, mainly due to the inappropriate management of the events that led to the partition and the birth of Bangladesh in 1971. When, in July 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq carried out the coup that brought him to the top of the country, for the Isia new season opened. The agency was entrusted, among others, with the task of gathering information on the Pakistani Communist Party and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). In the 1980s, the ISI played an important role in training the Afghan mujahideen, alongside the CIA and Saudi secret services, at the time of the Soviet occupation of the country. After 1994, the agency provided its support to the Taliban engaged in the civil war for the conquest of Kabul.

The ISI, formally under the control of the interior ministry, is in fact accountable to the army chief, who has the last word on foreign policy and national security decisions, often keeping the top politicians in the dark about their own strategies. Since its formation, the ISI has been led by generals from the Pakistani army. As of October 2014, the agency is headed by General Rizwan Akhtar, who has replaced Zaheerul Islam, officially due to the age limit. For Pakistan 2010, please check

The agency has around 10,000 officers and staff members, excluding whistleblowers, whose number is unknown. At an organizational level, ISI is divided into several units. Among the main ones, the Joint Intelligence Bureau (Jib), responsible for collecting information from non-confidential sources, the Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (Jcib), responsible for counter-intelligence both internally and abroad, and the Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau (Jsib), which is entrusted with the management of communications.

According to numerous intelligence reports, the ISI has relations with the main terrorist groups in the country, from the Lashkar-e-Taiba to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. An anti-terrorist purge was carried out in the autumn of 2007, which marked a partial separation of the organization from the most extremist groups. However, the borderline between ISI and terrorism remains somewhat blurred. The former head of the ISI, General Hamid Gui, allegedly founded the Council for the Defense of Pakistan (Difa-i-Pakistan), a pressure group that unites Islamic parties, terrorist groups and fundamentalist organizations under its banner. In the last elections, in May 2013, Difa-i-Pakistan supported Imran Khan, a former cricketer who stood in the elections with an agenda based on the end of the war on terrorism, on stopping American drone raids and on repression. of religious minorities.

ISI has a strong influence on the domestic political process. In the 1990s, the Mehrangate scandal exposed Pakistani intelligence involvement in electoral competitions through bribes paid to politicians to secure their loyalty. Furthermore, according to the United Nations, the ISI is involved in the worldwide drug trafficking, from which it would make an income of about 2 billion dollars a year.

Pakistan ISI