's intelligence gathering agency, and combines the functions of domestic, international and military intelligence
. To put it in western terms, it's a little bit like an amalgamation of the CIA
and the Defense Intelligence Agency
. ISI was founded in 1948
by a British army officer who served in the Pakistani army during the twilight of colonial rule. They are the kingmaker
s of Pakistan, enjoy only nominal oversight, and have acted numerous times to displace civilian leaders and install military rule.
Since ISI controls the most far-reaching network of intelligence operatives in central Asia, and has extensive ties to the western intelligence apparatus, it is often used to perform proxy operations in the region, such as arming and training the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980's. However, this does not mean that they don't have an agenda of their own - the ISI is deeply involved in operations designed to advance Pakistan's interests abroad (especially in India) and to increase its own clout within Pakistan.
ISI is composed of at least seven separate divisions, employing 10-50,000 on a budget of 52 million USD:
- The Joint Intelligence Bureau - responsible for domestic spying, primarily to keep politicians in line
- The Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau - responsible for spying on the spies (ISI assets in foreign countries as well as official diplomats) and coordinating operations in the Middle East, South Asia, China, Afghanistan and Muslim-majority FSSR's
- Joint Intelligence North - responsible for Kashmir operations, including infiltration, exfilteration and propaganda
- Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous - responsible for conducting espionage in foreign countries, including offensive intelligence operations
- The Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau - responsible for wiretaps and other electronic surveillance, operates a chain of signals intelligence collection stations along the border with India, and provides communication support to militants operating in Kashmir
- Joint Intelligence Technical - computer geeks
- Joint Intelligence X - responsible for coordinating the activities of all other divisions, and preparing intelligence and threat estimates
Since the mid-1980's
, ISI has been predominately occupied with tending to its interests on the eastern border with India and the western border with Afghanistan. In India proper
, ISI maintains contact with Muslim communities in Punjab
to the west, Tamilnadu
in the south and Assam
in the northeast. Many in India believe that the purpose of these contacts is to ultimately create secessionist
movements and make India a smaller nation. Additionally, involvement in the disputed territory of Kashmir
has stepped up since India took control of Siachen
glacier in 1984
. ISI has sought to bring all Kashmiri Muslim rebel
groups under one banner, to help make sure the outcome of the campaign is accession
to Pakistan as opposed to outright independence
Since Pakistan does not have the capability to monitor two hostile borders, it cultivated the Taleban, and supported them until recently (some say with American backing). This meant that they did not have to worry about fighting on the Afghan border, and also helped ensure a steady influx of manpower into Kashmir from Taleban training camps as well as Pakistani madrassas. However, since September 11, Pakistan has publicly turned against the Taliban. This caused the ISI to recall its agents working in Afghanistan, and created dissent among native fundamentalists. Some observers have grumbled that Pakistan's value as an ally in the war is compromised by this course of action, and that it would have been preferable for them to feign continued support for the Taliban and keep collecting information on the ground. Others question whether the ISI really is an ally at all.
some information fairly used from the Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Resource Program (fas.org/irp/)
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