ISI SnapshotPakistan's Directorate for Interservices Intelligence (ISI) was founded in 1948, a year after the establishment of the state of Pakistan. It has been reorganized internally several times since then. ISI is headquartered in Islamabad.
Staffing and Organization
According to the Federation of American Scientists, the organization has about 10,000 staff members, and is divided into the following sections:
- Joint Intelligence X (JIX): the secretariat which co-ordinates other ISI wings and field organisations.
- Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB): responsible for political intelligence.
- Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (JCIB): responsible for field surveillance of Pakistani diplomats abroad, and for operations in the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere.
- Joint Intelligence / North (JIN): responsible for Jammu and Kashmir operations.
- Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM): conducts espionage in foreign countries.
- There are also Signals and Technical intelligence bureaus.
ISI and the Pakistan MilitaryOn paper, the ISI is a civilian institution. In fact, according to many experts, it is a military controlled organization. Its heads were appointed by former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who himself came to power through a military coup.
ISI and the Taliban
Afghanistan fell into a civil war among competing mujahideen factions following its triumph in the Afghan-Soviet war. The ISI supported one of these factions, the Taliban, and continued their support following the Taliban's successful takeover of the government in 1991. Their support of the Afghan Taliban ended with the fall of their government, at American hands, in 2001. However, by 2007 and 2008, charges against the ISI surfaced again, from U.S. Department of Defense officials, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and others who believe that elements inside the intelligence organization continue to support the Taliban in Pakistan.
Learn more about: the Taliban
ISI and the U.S. Led War on Terror
While the U.S. aligned its interests with ISI to support mujahideen during the Afghan-Soviet war, it needed Pakistan and ISI to help prosecute the desendents of these groups soil following 2001. However, it was unclear whether the Pakistani government, under Musharraf, either could or intended to direct ISI to cooperate. There have been many signs that ISI acts independently; but also many questions about whether this occurred with Musharraf's sanction or knowledge. Events such as the kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and various terrorist attacks attributed to ISI have been interpreted by analysts as ISI warnings to the Pakistani government about getting too close to the U.S. Administration.
Learn more about: Daniel Pearl
ISI and Kashmir Conflict
The ISI is also understood to be strongly behind some of the militant groups active on the Indian administered side of Kashmir.
Learn more about: Pakistan's role in Kashmir.