The Pakistani government's intelligence agency, ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence, is the secret service and intelligence agency that has long played foe and rival to India's own intelligence service, RAW. Nonetheless, our counterparts from the other side of the border have proven themselves to be quite the accomplished foes in this long-standing cold war.
We've already told you about RAW's capabilities and sheer badassery that we thought it would only be fair to show you guys what the other side is capable of. They say, iron sharpens iron, and nowhere else is this more evident as in the battle between RAW and the ISI.
So, here are 5 facts about Pakistan's ISI that we thought you should know.
1. Established in 1948, the ISI is known to be one of the most powerful intelligence services in the developing world.
Our intelligence rivals are a part of the intelligence network in Pakistan that include the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Military Intelligence (MI), Naval Intelligence (NI) and Air Intelligence (AI). The ISI was born out of the need for better intelligence services being offered to the Pakistani government. This happened mainly due to lapses that the Pakistani government noticed in their intelligence capabilities post the Indo-Pak War of 1947. This led to the formation of the ISI as we know it now.
2. The ISI was the main channel for weapons and funds from the West being transferred to mujahideen guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan.
The ISI served as the primary conduit for Western and Arab arms and funds to guerrilla rebel fighters who were battling the Soviet forces and the allied Afghan armed forces during the Soviet–Afghan War - which lasted from December, 1979 to February, 1989. The uprising of the rebel forces against the invading Soviets prior to receiving aid from the West and ISI was chaotic and unorganised. The rebel forces, with the help of outside intervention, prolonged the conflict and caused enough damage to the invading Soviets that made them withdraw from the war.
It's a different story that the prevailing organisations had a lot of conflicts within themselves - due to lack of structure, and neglect - and the most dominant faction from the lot later on christened itself as the Taliban.
3. Rumour has it that no ISI agent has ever been caught or turned.
Although this is a fact that is hard to verify, the Pakistani government, it seems, has not yet taken responsibility for any alleged undercover agent that was caught on foreign soil. There are stories of officials like Squadron Leader Khalid Khawaja that were arrested on Pakistani soil for conspiracy against the state, but it seems that the ISI have been particularly good at insulating themselves from any direct involvement in any of the covert operations that they have supposedly orchestrated. Which, in fact, is quite impressive.
4. Contrary to popular belief, the ISI has been a crucial instrument in the arrest of multiple Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
The ISI have closely worked with the CIA in bringing down crucial targets and officials of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, all across the world. While there are sources that link ongoing relations between the terrorist organisations and the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service has played a crucial role in the capture of very prominent agitators like Ramzi Yousef, Abdul Ghani Baradar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and many more.
5. The ISI is said to have thousands of agents, both civilian and from the armed forces.
There seems to be no verified count on the number of agents that work in relation with the ISI, both direct or indirect. It is known that the ISI recruit from the Pakistan military forces and civilians - based on qualifications set by the FPSC - who go through rigorous training. Well, the training seems to be so secretive that there is very little information on the details of it. What we can tell, for certain, is that the agents are trained in covert intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence, that they receive from all over the world - mainly the United States.
Regardless of us being rivals, the ISI definitely are a foe worthy of appreciation.
Disclaimer: All information and facts that are stated here are purely for academic purposes.
Information source: Reuters India