Inter-Services Intelligence

Inter-Services Intelligence
Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence
Agency overview
Formed 1948
Jurisdiction Government of Pakistan
Headquarters Islamabad, Pakistan
Agency executive Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, Director General
Inter-Services Intelligence
Coat of arms of Pakistan.svg
Faith, Unity, Discipline
Director  : Ahmad Shuja Pasha
Department  : Intelligence
Established  : 1948
Major departments:
  • Joint Intelligence X (JIX)
  • Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB)
  • Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (JCIB)
  • Joint Intelligence North (JIN)
  • Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM)
  • Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau (JSIB)
  • Joint Intelligence Technical (JIT)
  • SS Directorate (SSD)
Notable Directors:

The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (more commonly known as Inter-Services Intelligence or simply by its initials ISI), is Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, responsible for providing critical national security intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan. The ISI is the largest of the three intelligence service agencies of Pakistan, the others being the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI). Its work has included supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets in the 1980s (in conjunction with CIA and its Allies) and supporting the Taliban against the Indian- and Iranian-backed Northern Alliance in the Afghanistan Civil War in the 1990s.[1]

It is the successor of the IB and MI formed after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 to coordinate and operate espionage activities for the three branches of the Pakistan Armed Forces. The ISI was established as an independent intelligence agency in 1948 in order to strengthen the sharing of military intelligence between the three branches of Pakistan's armed forces in the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, which had exposed weaknesses in intelligence gathering, sharing and coordination between the Army, Air Force and Navy. From its inception, the agency is headed by an appointed 3-star general officer in the Pakistan Army, despite officers from all three branches of the Pakistan Armed Forces being served and hired by the agency. However, after the intelligence gathering and coordination failure during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee was created with a mandate to coordinate and supervise all military exercises and operations of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

The Chief of Army Staff led the appointment of the director, but official confirmation is needed from the President, with consultation from the Prime minister. The headquarters of ISI are situated in Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory. It is currently headed by Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who took over as ISI's Director General in September 2008.



After independence in 1947, two new intelligence agencies were created in Pakistan: the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI). However, the weak performance of the MI in sharing intelligence between the Army, Naval and Air Force during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 led to the creation of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1948.[2] The ISI was structured to be manned by officers from the three main military services, and to specialize in the collection, analysis and assessment of external intelligence, either military or non-military.[2] The ISI was the brainchild of Australian-born British Army officer, Major General R. Cawthome, then Deputy Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Army.[2][3] Initially, the ISI had no role in the collection of internal intelligence, with the exception of the North-West Frontier Province and Azad Kashmir.[2] The recruitment and expansion of the ISI was managed and under taken by then-Navy's Commander Syed Mohammad Ahsan who was tenuring as Deputy Director of the Naval Intelligence. The Navy's Commander Syed Mohammad Ahsan played an integral and major role in formulating the policies of the ISI. At the end of December 1952, Major-General Robert Cawthome, Director-General of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), sent a priority report to the Commander Ahsan, and asked for a detailed reactions of Pakistan Armed Forces personnel for the Basic principles for the ISI.

In the late 1950s, when Ayub Khan became the President of Pakistan, he expanded the role of ISI and MI in monitoring opposition politicians, and sustaining military rule in Pakistan.[3] The ISI was reorganised in 1966 after intelligence failures in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965,[4] and expanded in 1969. Khan entrusted the ISI with the responsibility for the collection of internal political intelligence in East Pakistan. Later on, during the Baloch nationalist revolt in Balochistan in the mid-1970s, the ISI was tasked with performing a similar intelligence gathering operation.[4]

The ISI lost its importance during the regime of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was very critical of its role during the 1970 general elections, which triggered off the events leading to the partition of Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh.[4]

After Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq seized power in July 1977 and became a Chief Martial Law Administrator of the country, the ISI was expanded by making it responsible for the collection of intelligence about the Pakistan Communist Party and various political parties such as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).[4]

The Soviet war in Afghanistan of the 1980s saw the enhancement of the covert action capabilities of the ISI by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A special Afghan Section, the SS Directorate, was created under the command of Brigadier Mohammed Yousaf to oversee the coordination of the war. A number of officers from the ISI's Covert Action Division (Special Activities Division) received training in the United States and many covert action experts of the CIA were attached to the ISI to guide it in its operations against the Soviet troops by using the Afghan Mujahideen.


The concept was idolized by then Lieutenant-Colonel Shahid Hamid in 14 July 1948. Later, he was promoted to 2-star rank of Major-General and was appointed as Director-General of the Military Intelligence by Major-General (retired) Sikandar Mirza who was the Defense Secretary that time. He was asked to set up the organization and did so with help from Major-General Robert "Bill" Cawthome- the then Deputy Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army. As this was an Inter Services Organization, the staff consisted of officers of all three services and civilians recruited through Public Service Commission. Major-General Cawthorne was the brain behind the modern state of the ISI, who served its first Director-general from 1950 till 1959. Lieutenant Colonel Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan (Later 3 star general and Foreign Minister Pakistan) served in ISI as GSO-1.

The original ISI building was in Karachi on the Junction of Abdullah Haroon Road (Old Victoria Street) and Hidayatullah Road, diagonally opposite Zainab Market. Although he was requested to stay on, and was promised promotion to Major General Hamid in his job as DG ISI. Hamid he decided to leave as he wished to serve in the regular Army. He left 20 June-1950 to command 100 Brigade in Peshawar, looking after the Khayber Pass and Landi Kotal. Major-General Cawthorne was given the command of the agency, and played a vital role in ISI's modern form as of today.

ISI's headquarters are located in Islamabad and currently the head of the ISI is called the Director General who has to be a serving Lieutenant General in the Pakistan Army.[citation needed] Under the Director General, three Deputy Director Generals report directly to him and are in charge in three separate fields of the ISI which are Internal wing - dealing with counter-intelligence and political issues inside Pakistan, External wing - handling external issues, and Analysis and Foreign Relations wing.[5]

The general staff of the ISI mainly come from paramilitary forces and some specialized units from the Pakistan Army such as the some chosen people from SS Group (SSG), SSG(N), and the SS Wing.[citation needed] According to some experts the ISI is the largest intelligence agency in the world in terms of number of staff. While the total number has never been made public, experts estimate about 10,000 officers and staff members, which does not include informants and assets.[3]


  • Joint Intelligence X, coordinates all the other departments in the ISI.[3] Intelligence and information gathered from the other departments are sent to JIX which prepares and processes the information and from which prepares reports which are presented.
  • Joint Intelligence Bureau, responsible for gathering political intelligence.[3] It has three subsections, one devoted entirely to operations against India.[3]
  • Joint Counterintelligence Bureau, responsible for surveillance of Pakistan's diplomats and diplomatic agents abroad, along with intelligence operations in the Middle East, South Asia, China, Afghanistan and the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union.[3]
  • Joint Intelligence North, exclusively responsible for the Jammu and Kashmir region and Northern Areas.[3]
  • Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous, responsible for espionage, including offensive intelligence operations, in other countries (Men at their best).[3]
  • Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau, operates intelligence collections along the India-Pakistan border.[3] The JSIB is the ELINT, COMINT, and SIGINT directorate that is charged to divert the attacks from the foreign non-communications electromagnetic radiations emanating from other than nuclear detonations or radioactive sources.[3]
  • Joint Intelligence Technical,[3] deals with development of science and technology to advance the Pakistan intelligence gathering. The directorate is charged to take steps against the electronic warfare attacks in Pakistan.[3] Without any exception, officers from this divisions are reported to be engineer officers and military scientists who deal with the military promotion of science and technology.[3] In addition, there are also separate explosives and a chemical and biological warfare sections.[3]
  • SS Directorate, which monitors the terrorist group activities that operates in Pakistan against the state of Pakistan. The SS Directorate is comparable to that of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Special Activities Division, and responsible for the covert political action and paramilitary special operations.

Director Generals of the ISI

  1. Colonel Syed Shahid Hamid 1948-1950
  2. MGen Robert Cawthome. 1950-1959
  3. BGen Riaz Hussain.[6] 1959 - 1966
  4. MGen (then BGen) Mohammad Akbar Khan.[7] 1966 - 1971
  5. LGen (then Maj Gen) Ghulam Jilani Khan. 1971 - 1978
  6. LGen Muhammad Riaz. 1978 - 1980
  7. LGen Akhtar Abdur Rahman. 1980 - March 1987
  8. LGen Hamid Gul. March 1987 - May 1989
  9. LGen (retd) Shamsur Rahman Kallu. May 1989 - August 1990
  10. LGen Asad Durrani. August 1990 - March 1992
  11. LGen Javed Nasir. March 1992 - May 1993
  12. LGen Javed Ashraf Qazi. May 1993 - 1995
  13. LGen (then Maj Gen) Naseem Rana. 1995 - October 1998
  14. LGen Ziauddin Butt. October 1998 - October 1999
  15. LGen Mahmud Ahmed. October 1999 - October 2001
  16. LGen Ehsan ul Haq. October 2001 - October 2004
  17. LGen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. October 2004 - October 2007
  18. LGen Nadeem Taj. October 2007 - October 2008
  19. LGen Ahmad Shuja Pasha. October 2008–Present


The ISI headquarters are in Islamabad. The complex consists of various adobe building separated by lawns and fountains. The entrance to the complex is next to a private hospital. Declan Walsh of The Guardian said that the entrance is "is suitably discreet: no sign, just a plainclothes officer packing a pistol who direct visitors through a chicane of barriers, soldiers and sniffer dogs"[8] Walsh said that the complex "resembles a well-funded private university" and that the buildings are "neatly tended," the lawns are "smooth," and the fountains are "tinkling." He described the central building, which houses the director general's office on the top floor, as "a modern structure with a round, echoing lobby."[8]

Recruitment and training

Both civilians and members of the armed forces can join the ISI. For civilians, recruitment is advertised and is jointly handled by the Federal Public Services Commission (FPSC) and civilian ISI agents are considered employees of the Ministry of Defense. The FPSC conducts various examinations testing the candidate's knowledge of current affairs, English and various analytical abilities. Based on the results, the FPSC shortlists the candidates and sends the list to the ISI who conduct the initial background checks. The selected candidates are then invited for an interview which is conducted by a joint committee comprising both ISI and FPSC officials.

Those candidates who passed the interview then have to go through rigorous fitness, medical and psychological evaluations. Once the candidate clears these evaluations, the ISI performs a very thorough background check on the candidate before being offered to join the ISI. Security clearance is granted once the candidate accepts the offer. Recruited agents then go to the Inter-Services Intelligence School for basic training following which they are employed on an initial one year probationary period. However, civilian operatives are not allowed to rise above the equivalent of the rank of Major and are mostly assigned to JIX, JIB and JCIB departments and the rest of the departments are solely headed by the armed forces but there have been rare cases in which civilians have been assigned to those departments.

For the armed forces, officers have to apply for admission into the Inter-Services Intelligence School. After finishing the intelligence course, they can apply to be posted in Field Intelligence Units or in the directorate of Military/Air/Naval intelligence. Then they wait and hope that their performance is good enough to be invited to the ISI for a temporary posting. Based on their performance in the military and the temporary posting with ISI, they are then offered a more permanent position.

Senior ISI officers with ranks of Major and above are assigned to the ISI for no more than only two to three years to curtail the attempt to abuse their power. Almost all of the Director-Generals of the ISI have never served in the organization before being appointed by the military commanders to lead it. ISI also monitors former, current and retired military officers who at one point or another held sensitive positions and had access to classified data.However in some special circumstances officers with outstanding achievements are given an extended appointment and even a lifetime (till 60 years of age) job.



Collection of information and extraction of intelligence from information: ISI obtains information critical to Pakistan's strategic interests. Both overt and covert means are adopted.

Classification of intelligence: Data is sifted through, classified as appropriate, and filed with the assistance of the computer network in ISI's headquarters in Islamabad.

Aggressive intelligence: The primary mission of ISI includes aggressive intelligence which comprises espionage, psychological warfare, subversion, sabotage.

Counterintelligence: ISI has a dedicated section which spies against enemy's intelligence collection.


Diplomatic missions: Diplomatic missions provide an ideal cover and ISI centers in a target country are generally located on the embassy premises.

Multinationals: ISI operatives find good covers in multinational organizations. Non-governmental organizations and cultural programmes are also popular screens to shield ISI activities.

Media: International media centers can easily absorb ISI operatives and provide freedom of movement.

Collaboration with other agencies: ISI maintains active collaboration with other secret services in various countries. Its contacts with Saudi Arabian Intelligence Services, Chinese Intelligence, the American CIA and British MI6 have been well known.

Third Country Technique: ISI has been active in obtaining information and operating through third countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, Turkey and China.

Intelligence operations history


  • (1982) ISI, CIA and Mossad carried out a covert transfer of Soviet-made weapons and Lebanese weapons captured by the Israelis during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 and their subsequent transfer to Pakistan and then into Afghanistan. All knowledge of this weapon transfer was kept secret and was only made public recently.
  • (1982–1997) ISI are believed to have access to Osama bin Laden in the past.[9] ISI played a central role in the U.S.-backed guerrilla war to oust the Soviet Army from Afghanistan in the 1980s. That Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-backed effort flooded Pakistan with weapons and with Afghan, Pakistani and Arab "mujahideen", who were motivated to fight as a united force protecting fellow Muslims in Soviet occupied Afghanistan. The CIA relied on the ISI to train fighters, distribute arms, and channel money. The ISI trained about 83,000 Afghan mujahideen between 1983 and 1997, and dispatched them to Afghanistan. B. Raman of the South Asia Analysis Group, an Indian think-tank, claims that the Central Intelligence Agency through the ISI promoted the smuggling of heroin into Afghanistan in order to turn the Soviet troops into heroin addicts and thus greatly reducing their fighting potential.[10]
  • (1986) Worrying that among the large influx of Afghan refugees that had come into Pakistan due to the Soviet-Afghan war were members of KHAD (Afghan Intelligence), the ISI successfully convinced Mansoor Ahmed who was the Charge-de-Affairs of the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad to turn his back on the Soviet backed Afghan government. He and his family were secretly escorted out of their residence and were given safe passage on a London bound British Airways flight in exchange for classified information in regard to Afghan agents in Pakistan. The Soviet and Afghan diplomats tried their best to find the family but were unsuccessful.[11]
  • (1994) The Taliban regime that the ISI supported after 1994 to suppress warlord fighting and in hopes of bringing stability to Afghanistan proved too rigid in its Islamic interpretations and too fond of the Al-Qaeda based on its soil. Despite receiving large sums of aid from Pakistan, the Taliban leader Mullah Omar is reported to have insulted a visiting delegation of Saudi Prince Sultan and an ISI general asking that the Taliban turn over bin Laden to Saudi Arabia.[12] Following the 9/11 attack on the United States allegedly by Al-Qaeda, Pakistan felt it necessary to cooperate with the US and the Northern Alliance.
  • (2008) The Indian embassy in Kabul was attacked by terrorists in 2008. Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security spokesperson Luftullah Mashal told mediapersons that Inter-Services Intelligence was behind the terror plot to target the Indian Consulate General in Jalalabad and had given Rs 1.2 lakh for the operation as confessed by two persons arrested by Afghan authorities.[13]
  • (2001 onwards) American officials believe members of the Pakistani intelligence service are alerting militants to imminent American missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas. In October 2009, Davood Moradian, a senior policy adviser to foreign minister Spanta, said the British and American governments were fully aware of the ISI's role but lacked the courage to confront Islamabad. He claimed that the Afghan government had given British and American intelligence agents evidence that proved ISI involvement in bombings.[14]
  • (2010) A new report by the London School of Economics (LSE) claimed to provide the most concrete evidence yet that the ISI is providing funding, training and sanctuary to the Taliban insurgency on a scale much larger than previously thought. The report's author Matt Waldman spoke to nine Taliban field commanders in Afghanistan and concluded that Pakistan's relationship with the insurgents ran far deeper than previously realised. Some of those interviewed suggested that the organization even attended meetings of the Taliban's supreme council, the Quetta Shura.[15][16][17] A spokesman for the Pakistani military dismissed the report, describing it as "malicious".[18][19][20] General David Petraeus, commander of the US Central Command, refused to endorse this report in US congressional hearing and suggested that any contacts between ISI and extremists are for legitimate intelligence purposes, in his words “you have to have contact with bad guys to get intelligence on bad guys”.[21]


  • (1993) The ISI was involved in supplying arms to the warring parties in Bosnia-Herzegovina to protect themselves from Serbian attacks.[22]


  • (1950s) The ISI's Covert Action Division was used in assisting the insurgents in India's North-East.[23]
  • (1965) The 1965 war in Kashmir provoked a major crisis in intelligence. When the war started, there was a complete collapse of the operations of all the intelligence agencies, after the commencement of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, was apparently unable to locate an Indian armored division due to its preoccupation with political affairs. Ayub Khan set up a committee headed by General Yahya Khan to examine the working of the agencies.[23]
  • (1980) The PAF Field Intelligence Unit at their base in Karachi in July 1980 captured an Indian agent.[citation needed] He was interrogated and revealed that a large network of Indian spies were functioning in Karachi. The agent claimed that these spies, in addition to espionage, had also assassinated a few armed personnel.[citation needed] He also said the leader of the spy ring was being headed by the food and beverages manager at the Intercontinental Hotel in Karachi and a number of serving Air Force officers and ratings were on his payroll. The ISI decided to survey the manager to see who he was in contact with, but then President of Pakistan Zia-ul Haq superseded and wanted the manager and anyone else involved in the case arrested immediately. It was later proven that the manager was completely innocent.[11]
  • (1983) Ilam Din also known as Ilmo was an infamous Indian spy working from Pakistan. He had eluded being captured many times but on March 23 at 3 a.m., Ilmo and two other Indian spies were apprehended by Pakistani Rangers as they were illegally crossing into Pakistan from India. Their mission was to spy and report back on the new military equipment that Pakistan will be showing in their annual March 23 Pakistan day parade. Ilmo after being thoroughly interrogated was then forced by the ISI to send false information to his R&AW handlers in India. This process continued and many more Indian spies in Pakistan were flushed out, such as Roop Lal.[11]
  • (1984) ISI uncovered a secret deal in which naval base facilities were granted by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to the USSR in Vizag and the Andaman & Nicobar Island and the alleged attachment of KGB advisers to the then Lieutenant General Sunderji who was the commander of Operation Bluestar in the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984.[10]
  • (1984) ISI failed to perform a proper background check on the British company which supplied the Pakistan Army with its Arctic-weather gear. When Pakistan attempted to secure the top of the Siachen Glacier in 1984, it placed a large order for Arctic-weather gear with the same company that also supplied the Indian Army with its gear. Indians were easily alerted to the large Pakistani purchase and deduced that this large purchase could be used to equip troops to capture the glacier.[25] India quickly mounted a military operation (Operation Meghdoot) and captured a large part of the glacier.
  • (1985) A routine background check on various staff members working for the Indian embassy raised suspicions on an Indian woman who worked as a school teacher in an Indian School in Islamabad. Her enthusiastic and too friendly attitude gave her up. She was in reality an agent working for the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). ISI monitored her movements to a hotel in Islamabad where she rendezvoused with a local Pakistani man who worked as an nuclear engineer for Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. ISI then confronted her and were then able to turn her into a double agent spying on the Indian Embassy in Islamabad.[11]
  • (1988) ISI implemented Operation Tupac a three part action plan for covertly supporting the militants in their fight against the Indian authorities in Kashmir, initiated by President Zia Ul Haq in 1988 after the failure of "Operation Gibraltar".[26][27] After success of Operation Tupac, support to militants became Pakistan's state policy.[28] ISI is widely believed to train and support militancy in Kashmir region.[29][30][31]


  • (1980s) Israel had always perceived a nuclear armed Muslim state to be a threat to its existence, although, Israel is nuclear itself. This is the reason why it destroyed the Iraqi nuclear facility in Operation Opera, and the Syrian nuclear facility during Operation Orchard. Israel had similar plans to destroy the Pakistani nuclear facilities in Kahuta during the 1980s with the assistance of India but failed to do so.[32][33]
  • (2002) According to Time magazine, French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, has claimed that Daniel Pearl, an American-Israeli, was assassinated by elements with backing from Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence, over his alleged role in gathering information linking ISI and Al-Qaeda.[34]


  • (1980) ISI became aware of a plot to assassinate the President of Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq and then launch a bloody coup to depose the current government and install an Islamic government in its place. The attempted assassination and coup was to occur on March 23, 1980 during the annual March 23 Pakistan day parade. The masterminds behind the coup were high ranking Military and Intelligence officers and were led by Major General Tajammal Hussain Malik, his son, Captain Naveed and his nephew Major Riaz, a former Military Intelligence officer. ISI decided against arresting these men outright because they did not know how deep this conspiracy went and kept these men under strict surveillance. As the date of the annual parade approached, ISI was satisfied that it had identified the major players in this conspiracy and then arrested these men along with quite a few high ranking military officers.[11]
  • (2000s) ISI is actively engaged with the Pakistan armed forces in the War in North-West Pakistan against Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and so far is reported to have lost 78 ISI personnel,[35] most notably Khalid Khawaja and Colonel Imam.
  • (2011) Five Pakistanis who worked as informant for CIA to pass information leading to the Death of Osama bin Laden had been arrested by the ISI.[36] In particular the US is trying to seek the release of Dr Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani who worked for the CIA, passing intelligence leading to the death of Bin Laden.[37]

The ISI has been deeply involved in domestic politics of Pakistan since the late 1950s. The 1990 elections for example were widely believed to have been rigged by the ISI in favor of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) party, a conglomerate of nine mainly rightist parties by the ISI under Lt. General Hameed Gul, to ensure the defeat of Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the polls.[38] Gul has denied that the vote was rigged.

ISI's Internal Political Division has been accused by various members of the Pakistan People's Party in assassinating Shahnawaz Bhutto, one of the two brothers of Benazir Bhutto, through poisoning in the French Riviera in the middle of 1985 in an attempt to intimidate her into not returning to Pakistan for directing the movement against Zia's Military government, but no proof has been found implicating the ISI.[10]

The ISI was also involved in a massive corruption scandal the Mehran bank scandal dubbed "Mehrangate", in which top ISI and Army brass were given large sums of money by Yunus Habib (the owner of Mehran Bank) to deposit ISI's foreign exchange reserves in Mehran Bank.[39] This was against government policy, as such banking which involves government institutions can only be done through state-owned financial institutions and not private banks. When the new director of the ISI was appointed and then proceeded to withdraw the money from Mehran Bank and back into state-owned financial institutions, the money had been used up in financing Habib's "extracurricular" activities. On April 20, 1994, Habib was arrested and the scandal became public.

ISI has been actively involved in suppressing a Brutal Separatist Insurgencies in Balochistan since 1948, which recently the Militants have been accused of targeting people non-Balochi ethnic groups.[40][41]

Over two hundred bodies with signs of extreme torture and a shotgun wound to the head have been found in the region during the period of July 2010 to July 2011, and Human Rights Watch says evidence points to complete ISI responsibility. Whilst the Provincial Government says it is doing its best to improve law and order and end target killing which it blames on rival factional fighting. The Chief Minister of the Province Said "law enforcement agencies have busted 48 groups involved in robberies, 44 in target killings and 47 involved in car snatching and kidnapping for ransom across the country. As many as 985 people have been sentenced so far while the cases of 875 accused in various crimes were in the courts." Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in a successful Kill or Capture Operation Launched by the Pakistan against his private militia.[42]

Balach Marri, former chief of Balochistan National Movement Mr.Ghulam Mohammed Baloch (See Turbat killings) where found dead, and the ISI is accused by the separatist of being behind the kiling .[43][44]

Till September 2011 more than 190 dead bodies have been found. The Frontier Corps and ISI have been accused of being behind the killing. The Special Operations Wing (SOW) of Frontier Corps has also been allegedly involved in it. . The methodology of ISI is to work with Frontier Corps to tackle the situation, usually not in uniform. ISI has installed various intelligence units all over Balochistan to gather information. Most of ISI's abductions come from the Makran and coastal regions of Balochistan. Baloch passengers of these areas have witnessed illegal abductions by ISI on the local bus routes of Balochistan.[45]

In July 2011, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a report on illegal disappearances in Balochistan and identified ISI and Frontier Corps as the perpetrators.[46]

Recent activity recorded was the bodies of two enforced disappeared Baloch youth found dumped in Murgaap area of Turbat, Balochistan on Thursday October 6, 2011. These latest victims of state security forces were identified as Kareem Jan Baloch son of Muhammad Hassan was abducted from Tump district Kech on 8 of August 2011 and Arfath Baloch son of Ibrahim Baloch abducted from Pasni cross on 23 September 2011. Their tortured and bullet-ridden bodies were found near Murgaap. Arafat Baloch was a student of Turbat Degree College he has been abducted along with two other friends, Zahoor Baloch and Musadiq Baloch, whose were released after few days. They are students of Balochistan Residential College Turbat. Karim Jan Baloch was a political and social activist and he was also cousin of Banuk Karima Baloch, the Central Chairperson of Baloch Students Organization Azad.[47][48][49]


  • (1978) ISI decided to spy on the residence of Colonel Hussain Imam Mabruk who was a Military Attaché to the Embassy of Libya in Islamabad as he had made some inflammatory statements towards the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq. The spying paid off as he was seen talking with two Pakistani gentlemen who entered and left the compound suspiciously. The ISI monitored the two men and were later identified as Pakistani exiles that hated the current military regime and were Bhutto loyalists. They had received terrorist training in Libya and were ready to embark on a terrorist campaign in Pakistan to force the Army to step down from power. All members of the conspiracy were apprehended before any damage could be done.[11]
  • (1981) In 1981, a Libyan Security company called Al Murtaza Associates sent recruiters to Pakistan to entice former soldiers and servicemen for high paying security jobs in Libya. In reality, Libya was recruiting mercenaries to fight with Chad and Egypt as it had border disputes with both nations.ISI become aware of the plot and the whole scheme was stopped.[11] [See also CIA drug trafficking#Soviet Afghanistan, CIA transnational anti-crime and anti-drug activities#Southwest Asia, Operation Cyclone, Badaber Uprising].


  • (1979) After the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, the U.S. media outlets such as Newsweek and Time reported that CIA agents stationed in Tehran had obtained information in regard to the location of the hostages, in-house information from a Pakistani cook who used to work for the U.S. Embassy. ISI successfully gathered evidence, and intercepted communication documents and showed it to the Iranian Chief of J-2 which cleared the cook. The Iranian chief of intelligence said, "We know, the Big Satan is a big liar."[11]


  • (1979) ISI discovered a surveillance mission to Kahuta Research Laboratories nuclear complex on June 26, 1979 by the French Ambassador to Pakistan, Le Gourrierce and his First Secretary, Jean Forlot. Both were arrested and their cameras and other sensitive equipment were confiscated. Intercepted documents later on showed that the two were recruited by the CIA.[11]

Soviet Union and Post-Soviet states

  • (1980) ISI had placed a mole in the Soviet Union's embassy in Islamabad. The mole reported that the Third Secretary in the Soviet Embassy was after information in regard to the Karakurum Highway and was obtaining it from a middle level employee, Mr. Ejaz, of the Northern Motor Transport Company. ISI contacted Mr. Ejaz who then confessed that a few months ago the Soviet diplomat approached him and threatened his family unless he divulged sensitive information in regard to the highway such as alignment of the road, location of bridges, the number of Chinese personnel working on the Highway, etc. The ISI instead of confronting the Soviet diplomat chose to feed him with false information. This continued until the Soviet diplomat was satisfied that Mr. Ejaz had been bled white of all the information and then dropped him as a source.[11]
  • (1991–1993) Major General Sultan Habib who was an operative of the ISI's Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous department successfully procured nuclear material while being posted as the Defense Attaché in the Pakistani Embassy in Moscow from 1991 to 1993 and concurrently obtaining other materials from Central Asian Republics, Poland and the former Czechoslovakia. After Moscow, Major General Habib then coordinated shipping of missiles from North Korea and the training of Pakistani experts in the missile production. These two acts greatly enhanced Pakistan's Nuclear weapons program and their missile delivery systems.[50]

United States

  • (1980s) ISI successfully intercepted two American private weapons dealers during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s. One American diplomat (his name has not been de-classified) who lived in the F-7/4 sector of Islamabad was spotted by an ISI agent in a seedy part of Rawalpindi by his automobile's diplomatic plates. He was bugged and trailed and was found to be in contact with various tribal groups supplying them with weapons for their fight with the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Another was Eugene Clegg, a teacher in the American International School who also indulged in weapons trade. One American International School employee and under cover agent Mr. Naeem was arrested while waiting to clear shippment from Islamabad custom. All of them were put out of business.[11]
  • (2000s) ISI is suspicious about CIA attempted penetration of Pakistan nuclear asset, and CIA intelligence gathering in the Pakistani law-less tribal areas. Based on these suspicion, it is speculated that ISI is pursuing a counter-intelligence against CIA operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.[52] ISI former DG Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is also reported to have said, "real aim of U.S. [war] strategy is to denuclearize Pakistan."[53]
  • (2011) In the aftermath of a shooting involving American CIA agent Raymond Davis, the ISI had become more alert and suspicious about CIA spy network in Pakistan, which had disrupted the ISI-CIA cooperation.[54] At least 30 suspected covert American operatives have suspended their activities in Pakistan and 12 have already left the country.[55]
  • (2011) A Chinese woman believed to be an ISI agent, who headed the Chinese unit of a US manufacturer was charged with illegally exporting high-performance coatings for Pakistan’s nuclear power plants. Xun Wang, a former managing director of PPG Paints Trading in Shanghai, a Chinese subsidiary of United States-based PPG Industries, Inc, was indicted on a charge of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and related offences. Wang is accused of conspiring to export and re-export, and exporting and re-exporting specially designed, high-performance epoxy coatings to the Chashma 2 Nuclear Power Plant in Pakistan. Wang and her co-conspirators agreed upon a scheme to export and re-export the high-performance epoxy coatings from the United States to Pakistan's Chashma II plant, via a third-party distributor in People’s Republic of China.[56]
  • (2011) ISI operative Mohammed Tasleem, an attache in the New York consulate, was found by the FBI in 2010 to be issuing threats against Pakistanis living in the United States, to prevent them from speaking openly about Pakistan's government. US officials and Pakistani journalists and scholars say the ISI has a systematic campaign to threaten those who speak critically of the Pakistan military.[57]


  • Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh: Sheikh Omar Saeed, a British-born terrorist of Pakistani descent was arrested by Pakistani police on February 12, 2002, in Lahore, in conjunction with the Pearl kidnapping. Pearl had been kidnapped, had his throat slit, and then been beheaded and Sheikh Omar Saeed was named the chief suspect.[60] Sheikh told the Pakistani court, however, that he had surrendered to the ISI a week earlier.[61]
  • Abu Zubaydah: Abu Zubaydah, an Al-Qaeda terrorist responsible for hatching multiple terrorist plots including sending Ahmed Ressam to blow up the Los Angeles airport in 2000.[62] He was captured on March 28, 2002, by ISI, CIA and FBI agents after they had raided several safe houses in Faisalabad, Pakistan.[63][64][65][66]
  • Ramzi bin al-Shibh: Ramzi bin al-Shibh, an Al-Qaeda terrorist responsible for planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well as the attack on 2000 USS Cole bombing, and the 2002 Ghriba synagogue bombing in Tunisia.[67] On September 11, 2002, the ISI successfully captured Ramzi bin al-Shibh during a raid in Karachi.[68]
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks as well as other significant terrorist plots over the last twenty years, including the World Trade Center 1993 bombings, the Operation Bojinka plot, an aborted 2002 attack on the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles, the Bali nightclub bombings, the failed bombing of American Airlines Flight 63, the Millennium Plot, and the murder of Daniel Pearl. On March 1, 2003, the ISI successfully captured KSM in a joint raid with the CIA's Special Activities Division paramilitary operatives in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.[69]
  • Abu Faraj Farj al-Liby: Pakistani intelligence agencies and security forces arrested Abu Faraj Farj al-Liby, mastermind of two failed attempts on President Pervez Musharraf's life, in May 2005.[70]
  • Abdul Ghani Baradar: Taliban's deputy commander, Abdul Ghani Baradar was captured by U.S. and Pakistani forces in Pakistan on February 8, 2010, in a morning raid.[71]


Critics of the ISI say that it has become a state within a state and not accountable enough. Some analyst say due to says due to the nature of intelligence work agencies around the world remain secretive .Critics argue the institution should be more accountable enough to the President or the Prime Minister.[72] After much criticism, the Pakistani Government disbanded the ISI 'Political Wing' in 2008.[73]

U.S. government

During the Cold War ISI and CIA worked together to send spy planes into the Soviet Union.[74] The ISI and CIA also worked closely during the Soviet-Afghan War. The Relationship was a positive and Strong one. More recently ISI and CIA stepped up cooperation in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks to kill and capture senior Al Qaeda leaders such as Sheikh Younis Al Mauritan and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in total around 100 top level al-Qaeda leaders/operators were killed/arrested by ISI.[75] The ISI has also lost many agents in the process and this sacrifice has been acknowledged . The Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton said "Pakistan was paying a “big price for supporting the U.S. war against terror groups. “... I think it is important to note that as they have made these adjustments in their own assessment of their national interests, they're paying a big price for it".[76] However in 2011 The top U.S. military officer Adm. Mike Mullen publicly accused ISI, for giving aid to the terrorists who attacked the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. However such claims where later rejected by U.S. President Barack Obama who said it was more complicated and a question of Pakistan could do more [77] [78]

Indian government

India has accused ISI of plotting the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008. Such allegations are where not shared by the Bush Administration and according United States diplomatic cables leak the ISI had in had previously shared intelligence information regarding possible terrorist attacks against in late 2008 in India.[79] ISI is also accused of supporting pro independence maltias in Jammu and Kashmir[80] while Pakistan denies all such claims.[81][82][83]

See also


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  2. ^ a b c d "Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence". Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
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Further reading

  • Ayub, Muhammad (2005). An Army, Its Role and Rule: A History of the Pakistan Army from Independence to Kargil from 1947–1999. Pittsburgh: RoseDog Books. ISBN 0805995943 .
  • Jan, Abid Ullah (2006). From BCCI to ISI: The Saga of Entrapment Continues. Ottawa: Pragmatic Publishing. ISBN 0973368764 .
  • Yousaf, Mohammad; Adkin, Mark (2001). Afghanistan the Bear Trap: The Defeat of a Superpower. Barnsley: Leo Cooper. ISBN 0850528607 .
  • Coll, Steve (2004). Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 1594200076 .
  • Henderson, Robert D'A (2003). Brassey's International Intelligence Yearbook. Dulles, VA: Brassey's. ISBN 1574885502 .
  • Schneider, Jerrold E.; Chari, P. R.; Cheema, Pervaiz Iqbal; Cohen, Stephen Phillip (2003). Perception, Politics and Security in South Asia: The Compound Crisis in 1990. London: Routledge. ISBN 041530797X .
  • Crile, George (2003). Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 0802141242 .
  • Todd, Paul; Bloch, Jonathan (2003). Global Intelligence : The World's Secret Services Today. Dhaka: University Press. ISBN 1842771132 .
  • Bamford, James (2004). A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0385506724 .

External links

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