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CurrentAffairs :Home truths about The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan

ISI (Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence) is widely known across India. Since the Government of India routinely holds this agency responsible for all terrorist attacks in India, this is not surprising. I have been very curious of this agency, which seems to (if our Govt. is to be believed) have spread its roots across the length and breadth of India, from Zhumritallaiya to Jamnagar. Since Indian security agencies (I hope) are not exactly sleeping on the job, this agency has to be really brilliant in the job it does, however sinister this job is. On the other hand, it does not show our own Intelligence services in good light, if the ISI is able to strike at will, anywhere in India-but that's another matter altogether.


Who is the ISI? Who leads it? Who does it report too? Indians seem to know very little about this agency which seemingly is the cause of all our security problems. Isn't this strange?

Here are some answers, for the first time in India's Blogsphere:

1) History:

The ISI was formed in 1948 with representation from all three of Pakistan’s Defense services (hence the name Inter Services Intelligence services). It was tasked with collection, analysis and assessment of EXTERNAL (outside Pak) intelligence. Internal intelligence is tackled by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) which also has a namesake in India, and also performs a similar function. This changed later and ISI was also entrusted with INTERNAL intelligence gathering tasks notably in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and Balochistan.

2) Organization:

Current Chief:Lt.Gen. Muhammad Zakki (April 2006 - Present). You can see how much Mush digs this guy in the picture above.

The ISI has very close links with the Pak army , which by far is the most powerful of all three services in Pakistan. It is headed by an Army officer of the rank of Lt.Gen., who is designated as the Director-General (DG). He is assisted by three Deputy Directors-General (who else?).

The ISI has many divisions with names which are typical of any intelligence service around the world. Suffice to say that these divisions focus on collecting Human intelligence (akin to James bond spy game), Counter intelligence (spy over spies and catch the snoops), Communications intelligence (snoop on communication devices of the enemy and fish what you can get- this is often like hunting for a needle in the haystack), Training devision (train the snoops) and some support services (cooks and accountants supporting the Star Cast to perform in the field). There there is a special division only to aid insurgency in North India (code for Kashmir) called JIN (Joint Intelligence North).

When Pakistan was a democracy (not for too long in its total years of existence), the ISI technically reported to the Prime Minister. But in reality, The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) has always controlled the ISI, covertly. So much so that whenever any Prime Minister has attempted to control the ISI, the efforts have been resisted firmly. Of course, today, when Musharraf is firmly in charge, as Dictator in Chief, no prizes for guessing who the ISI D.G reports to.


3) Successes:

-South Asia Terrorism Portal has compiled the following comparative figures of fatalities due to terrorist acts in South Asia, during 2000-2004.

Country 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

India 5555 6383 4306 4171 2897

Total: 23312

Guess how much of it was courtesy The ISI?

- Has reigned in approx. 400000 Indian armed forces in Kashmir for over a decade now, at significant cost to the Indian economy.

- Actively supports insurgents all over India (North-East), Maoists and most recently Muslims in India who are disaffected due to Gujarat riots, Babri demolition etc. Human cost to India estimated to be

4) Failures:

-1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars where Pakistan suffered major reverses. It is said that the ISI's pre-occupation with matters internal led to it being ineffective during this period.

- The ISI never did a background check on the supplier of High Altitude equipment from U.K. The same supplier also supplied the Indians. When Pakistan ordered a huge load, Indians deduced correctly that this was meant to attack Siachen and occupied it first!

- Although ISI has succeeded brilliantly in operational execution of terrorism in India, it has failed miserably in the propaganda game, where India has succeeded in convincing the world its point of view. Although, India has been aided in no small measure by Osama Bin Laden since without 9/11 there was no way, self serving western countries would have realized the destructive power of terrorism.

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