Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI)
The Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, known as the ISI, is the largest intelligence agency in Pakistan. Its headquarters are in Islamabad. Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha is the current director of the agency. He took over the directorship in 2008.
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 led to the institution of the ISI in 1948 and to the gathering of both internal and external information. Information was gathered from military and non-military forces alike. Over the decades there has been a great deal of organization and re-organization to the ISI agency.
The Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s allowed for the ISI to expand its powers and oversee all elements of the war. By this time, the ISI's Covert Action Division was being trained in the United States by the Central Intelligence Agency experts. They were continuously becoming more knowledgeable and more effective throughout this time period.
Much of the staff comes from the Pakistani Army. The director of the agency must be actively serving as a Lieutenant General in the Army. It is reported by some that the ISI is the largest intelligence agency in the world, with 10,000 members and staff officers. Pakistan has never made these figures available to the public, but speculation continues.
There are eight primary divisions within the ISI. They are:
• The Joint Intelligence X, or the JIX division, is responsible and in charge of all information within the ISI. All reports go through this division, and this information is then further reported and disseminated directly from the JIX.
• The Joint Intelligence Bureau gathers all politic intelligence from around the world.
• The Joint Counterintelligence Bureau is primarily a surveillance unit devoted to watching their own diplomats in other countries. They also keep an eye on the intelligence operations in the Middle East and other places.
• The Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau collects information from the Pakistan-India border. The upheavals between Pakistan and India have created a bureau that is on high alert, at all times.
• The Joint Intelligence North monitors information for Kashmir and Jammu only.
• Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous division is responsible for espionage.
• The Joint Intelligence Technical division oversees technology within the organization.
• A Chemical Warfare division oversees all aspects of explosives and other weaponry.
ISI employees work with classified and unclassified information. Aggressive intelligence has a hand in espionage, subversion and psychological warfare. The agency works with third hand information, via diplomatic missions and the media. Thousands of soldiers were used in the effort to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.
What seems clear is that the ISI is in a sense the CIA's creature. It has been said, for instance, that the CIA and ISI together promoted heroin smuggling into Afghanistan to create heroin addicts among the Soviet forces. They would then become preoccupied and less capable of fighting. What is also clear is that as the national interests of Pakistan and the West diverge, there will be increasing strains between these two agencies. The cracks are already showing and probably will grow worse over time.