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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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The Inter Services Intelligence - Maloy Krishna Dhar


In the previous dissertation, introductory remarks have been made about the role and utility of intelligence agencies and different intelligence, investigation and security agencies of Pakistan. An attempt has been made to briefly narrate the historical and strategic reasons that converted Pakistan and ISI as a Fulcrum of Evil. In the narratives below we will try to examine the structural and functional mapping of the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan (ISI), brief accounts of its exploitation of the fault lines of India and its linkage with the al Qaeda and its role as the breeder and exporter of Islamist jihad in different theatres of the world. This study intends to unfold the genetic characteristics of the Fulcrum of Evil.
The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and the Inter Services Public Relations are officially under the Ministry of Defence. In reality, the ISI functions under direct control of Pakistan Army and its chief is answerable to the military dictator.

The grey heavily guarded fortified unmarked brick building that houses the sprawling campus of the ISI in Islamabad flaunt two motto plaques: “Espionage should be regarded honourable”- Sun Tzu, Chinese military strategist and “By way of deception, thou shall do war”- Gen. George Patton.

The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) enjoys a unique status in the infrastructure of the Pakistani Establishment. It is not an ordinary intelligence apparatus of the state. It has emerged as a fulcrum of Islamic jihadist operations of the State of Pakistan and jihadist tanzeems created by the state. It has acquired the status of a global fulcrum that mimicked the style of functioning of the CIA. Over years it has assumed the singularity of a ‘state within the state’ discharging the following important tasks:

• Controlling the internal civil and political affairs in Pakistan,
• Promoting multinational Islamist jihad movements in tandem with organisations like the Al Qaeda-al-Sulbah,
• Ruthlessly quelling internal dissensions and political unrest,
• Attending to the most strategic geopolitical task of subjugating Afghanistan and
• Destabilising India by waging proxy-war by exporting jihadist movements and promoting separatist sentiments amongst Indian Muslims,
• The ISI, as an important part of the Pakistani establishment has taken on the responsibility of exporting Islamic revolution wherever perceived necessary by the elite club of jihadists. Like the CIA it attempts to change the world order—a new order as perceived by the Wahhabists and Deobandis.
• ISI is not a simple intelligence agency. It is a tool in the hands of Pakistani Establishment and it is an anchor for the Wahhabi Islamists.

These aspects of the ISI can be better understood in the background of its collaboration with the CIA, and Royal Saudi Intelligence during the Cold War bonhomie and Afghan imbroglio. It may be kept in mind that while the CIA acts as the Global fulcrum of evil on behalf of the American neo-imperialists the Royal Saudi intelligence work as the Middle fulcrum that promotes, patronises and payrolls Wahhabi brand of Islamic jihad all over the world. Pakistan is a part of the chain of global Fulcrums, which want to change the world order.

A perceived branch of the Military Intelligence, the ISI had modelled itself as a tool in the hands of the military dictators, unscrupulous politicians and had picked up the tricks of synthesising intelligence tradecrafts with the broader national policy on regional and global security concerns and foreign policy imperatives. Its operatives were extensively trained in the ‘black arts’ of sabotage and subversion in foreign countries in UK by the SAS and MI5 and in USA by the Central Intelligence Agency. Some of its operations were bankrolled by the USA and Saudi Arabia.

The canvas of study is very vast and the ingredients are interconnected with the evolution of global Islamist terrorism, which is now spearheaded by Al Qaeda-al-Sulbah and its supremo Osama bin Laden. We propose to discuss this connectivity in a separate chapter.

Intelligence establishments are integral parts of nation states. Collection, collation and dissemination of domestic and external intelligence are the prime functions of an intelligence agency. Besides security and military related intelligence, countries do indulge in collecting economic, corporate and industrial intelligence. Intelligence gathering on the fault lines of real and perceived enemy countries is an integral part of strategic policy formulation. These fault lines are studied with a view to sharpen certain diplomatic initiatives and with the inherent objective of exploiting the weaknesses of the perceived enemy. Often direct and indirect military and quasi-military offensives are mounted along those fault lines, when diplomacy demands war over peace. The ISI has been used by Pakistan deftly in this role of exploiting the fault lines of India and engaging the enemy in quasi-military actions through proxy-war on its own and with the help of Islamist jihadi tanzeems.

The totalitarian and hegemonistic states based on religious bigotry, ideological fanaticism and military dictatorship use intelligence apparatuses as an extended arm of repression in internal and external state policies, with a view to securing its power bases and destabilising its real and perceived adversaries at home and abroad. Normal free democracies use the domestic and external intelligence parameters both for defensive and offensive purposes. Some intelligence organisations have earned as much notoriety as the notorious rulers of the totalitarian countries. In fact, a country’s political ethics is well reflected in the functioning of its intelligence and security organisations.

Before we proceed to examine the ISI’s structural and functional characteristics it may be necessary to briefly relate the outline of three other contemporary Fulcrums of Evil. That may add more transparency to the unique status of Pakistan as a member of the Big League--the CIA, KGB and the Royal Saudi Intelligence.

Very little, however, is known about the mysterious Royal Saudi Intelligence. Prince Turki, chief of the RSI enjoyed a long tenure of 25 years. He was CIA’s partner in several dirty operations including Iran-Contra deal, US involvement in Kuwait and projecting Osama bin laden as a potent Arab face for the Afghan war. He was later posted to London as Saudi ambassador and again to the USA (2005) as ambassador. His successor Prince Nawaf bin abad al Aziz resigned in January 2005 due to ill health. The present incumbent’s details are not available. It is known that the RSI is organised in the fashion of the CIA and the CIA, MI6 and the SAS have extensively trained the personnel of this outfit. Saudi Intelligence has also a ‘Special Operations’ division that takes up tasks to thwart recent thrusts unleashed by Osama bin Laden. Members of this special operations force have undergone extensive training in the USA. The RSI has collaborated from time to time with the CIA, MI6, ISI and other US intelligence outfits. In a sense it is a major partner of US clandestine operations in the Middle East and almost all over the Muslim world.

The saga of the intelligence establishments of the former Soviet Union (KGB, GRU), China (Ministry of State Security-Guojia Anquan Bu, 8341 Unit-Central Security Regiment-Second Department), Hitler’s Germany (Gestapo) and the Iranian SAVAK, Vezarat-e-Ettella va Amniat-e-Keshvar –VEVAK and Pasdaran-e-Inquilab etc have been extensively chronicled by the security and intelligence watchers. These organisations reflect the very political ethics of the regimes that controlled them.

We propose to briefly mention about the Russian and the US intelligence systems, which aptly reflect the internal and external policies of the two major powers and which have shaped the history and geography of several parts of the world during last five decades.

The Russian system is dominated by the KGB--Komitet Gosudaistvennoi Bezopasnosti (Committee for State Security), SVR-Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (Foreign Intelligence Service), CSR-Centralanaya Sluzhba Razyadky, FSB- Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (Federal Security Service), FSK- Federal’naya Sluzhba Kontr-razyedky (Federal Counter Intelligence Service) and the GRU-Glavnoye Razvedyvatenoye Upravlenie.

While the KGB is supposed to work on the civil intelligence front, the GRU is the main hub of military intelligence.
The exploits of the KGB and the GRU have been extensively chronicled. Ruthless use of the intelligence organisations by the former Soviet regime has become synonymous with oppressive communist rule. It is alleged that the present Russian regime is also using the KGB, FSB and other agencies to contain internal democratic movements. However, the process of democratisation appears to be inevitable and not long before the Russian intelligence agencies are likely to be reined in, unless the USA thrusts upon the Russian Federation another phase of Cold War.

The United States of America prides itself of a large number of intelligence and security agencies:

1. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
2. Defence Intelligence Agency. (DIA)
3. Bureau of Intelligence and Research: the State Department intelligence office (INR).
4. National Foreign Intelligence Board, (NFIB) comprise of all heads of U.S. intelligence services that act as board of US intelligence and approves the national intelligence policy.
5. National Intelligence Officer (NIO)-a senior analyst responsible for a region or special intelligence area.
6. National Security Agency (NSA), the largest and most secret agency-- in charge of SIGINT-eavesdropping ops abroad-code breaking –protecting communication and cryptographic systems and codes of the USA.
7. National Security Council (NSC), comprising the President, Vice-President, and Secretaries of State, Defence, the DCI and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serve as advisors. President’s Assistant for national Security Affairs, who reports to the President, heads the NSC.
8. National Security Planning Group NSPG). During Regan time, it had replaced the NSC.
9. President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB),
10. Homeland Security.
11. National Intelligence Director (overall supervisory hub) etc

The CIA has functioned as the spearhead of the Global Fulcrum of Evil by interfering in the internal matters of several countries all over the world. The exploits of the CIA are replete with innumerable examples of global use of American intelligence apparatus as an extension of foreign policy. Some murky incidents like the assassination of Allende, Lumumba and Mussadegh etc leaders have left indelible black spots on the political history of the champion of democracy. CIA’s track record as an extension of the dirty executive arm of the US administration has been well documented. It is not surprising that the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan has heavily borrowed from functional philosophy and ethics of its US counterpart. However, it must be added that the rogue activities of the CIA are periodically brought under the scanner of the Congressional Overseeing Committees. That’s what preserves the democratic veneer of the US system.

President Truman created the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947 with the signing of the National Security Act. The National Security Act charged the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) with coordinating the nation’s intelligence activities and correlating, evaluating and disseminating intelligence, which affects national security.

The DCI serves as the head of the United States Intelligence Community, principal advisor to the President for intelligence matters related to national security, and head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The CIA is an independent agency, responsible to the President through the DCI, and accountable to the American people through the intelligence oversight committees of the U.S. Congress.

CIA’s mission is to support the President, the National Security Council, and all officials who make and execute the U.S. national security policy by:

• Providing accurate, comprehensive, and timely foreign intelligence on national security topics.
• Conducting counterintelligence activities, special activities, and other functions related to foreign intelligence and national security, as directed by the President.
To accomplish its mission, the CIA engages in research, development, and deployment of high-leverage technology for intelligence generation purposes. As a separate agency, CIA serves as an independent source of analysis on topics of concern and also works closely with the other organizations in the intelligence community to ensure that the intelligence consumer-whether Washington policymaker or battlefield commander-receives the best intelligence possible. Issues such as non-proliferation, counterterrorism, and political developments in countries in the sphere of influence of the USA are also usually researched and operational approaches are suggested to the President. The CIA achieves this objective by:
• Forging stronger partnerships between the several intelligence collection disciplines and all-source analysis.
• Taking an active part in Intelligence Community’s analytical efforts and producing all-source analysis on the full range of topics that affect national security.
• Contributing to the effectiveness of the overall Intelligence Community by managing services of common concern in imagery analysis and open-source collection and participating in partnerships with other intelligence agencies in the areas of research and development and technical intelligence collection.

By emphasizing adaptability in its approach to intelligence collection, the CIA can tailor its support to key intelligence consumers and help them meet their needs as they face the issues of the post-Cold War world. Very often, such tailoring efforts are directed at working as subservient adjuncts of the ruling President and his caucus. Instances of such misuse of the CIA by adventurous US Presidents have often exploded into national and international scandals. The recent faux pas related to Iraq’s WMD capability have not added laurels to the CIA.
The Deputy Director of Central Intelligence assists the Director in his duties as head of the CIA and the Intelligence Community and exercises the powers of the Director when the Director’s position is vacant or in the Director’s absence or disability.

The Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Homeland Security, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, ensures the flow of intelligence in support of homeland defence. The Executive Director of the Central Intelligence is assisted by an Executive Board that counts among its membership five-mission centres with duties that enable the Agency to carry out its mission--Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, Security, Human Resources and Global Support--the Executive Director manages the CIA on a day-to day basis.
The Directorate of Intelligence, the analytical branch of the CIA, is responsible for the production and dissemination of all agent intelligence analysis on key foreign issues.
Core of the fact is that the CIA is the visible tip of the spearhead of the Global Fulcrum of Evil. Other US secret service and security agencies also play vital roles in formulating policies against nations and peoples all over the globe.

The CIA as well as the British Intelligence community has extensively trained the Inter Services Intelligence of Pakistan. Pakistan has its own CIA-Central Investigation Agency, a police outfit that take up specialised investigation related to crime and terrorism.

The British Intelligence networks consist of the following:
• Directorate of Naval Intelligence.
• Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ)
• Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)
• Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6)
• Security Service (MI5)

The British intelligence had played key roles during empire building in the Middle East, northern Africa, Second World War, and Cold War against Russia. However, British intelligence fraternity did not emerge as the Fulcrum of Evil as the waning empire could not support such ambitious roles. The British preponderance was hijacked by the USA.
A good number of ISI officers have been trained by the GCHQ, MI6 and the MI5. However, the ISI has rather followed the operational ethics of the CIA more than those of the British intelligence community. The CIA has been extensively used to promote the strategic geopolitical interests of the USA. The ISI has also followed the internal and external political objectives of its governments. At points of time, the ISI has functioned as the super government, toppling some and installing others.

The minor deviation above was aimed at briefly stating the basic structural formation of other major fulcrums. The ISI is irrevocably interlinked with the US and British systems of intelligence operations and heavily borrowed from its strategic ally, China.

However, India and Pakistan inherited a somewhat well defined administrative and intelligence establishment from the British Empire. The Central Intelligence Bureau, which was predominantly staffed by the white and trusted Muslim officers, was divided between the two new nations. Ghulam Mohammad, the senior non-white officer of the CIB had taken over the Pakistani part of the Intelligence Bureau (PIB). The Indian Intelligence Bureau, pathetically under staffed and inadequate to the requirements of the internal and external challenges was, in all practical purposes, fashioned by an enigmatic personality, Bhola Nath Mallick. As far as building of the edifices and resource bases are concerned he was to the Indian IB what Lt.Gen. Ghulam Jillani Khan was to the ISI.

Inducted to the ISI as a two star Brigadier (a former military attaché in Washington), Jillani had survived the regimes of Yahya Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and General Zia-ul-Haq till Lt. Gen. Akhtar Abdur Rahman replaced him. Jillani had fashioned the ISI as the ‘third estate’ of Pakistan, the first two being the Armed Forces and the Bureaucracy. According to some terse comments by Pakistani journalists, the political establishment was rated as the ‘fourth estate’ and the press-media as the ‘fifth estate’, which were often made to play surrogate to the ‘third estate’.

The political establishment of Pakistan, the ‘first estate’ in a secular democratic country, as envisaged by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was hijacked by the military and bureaucratic establishment headed by civilian and army duo Ghulam Mohammad and Iskandar Mirza. They relegated the political establishment to the position of ‘third estate’. General Ayub Khan’s coup in 1958 transformed the political history of Pakistan for all time to come. The Armed Forces were foisted permanently on a nation, whose democratic aspirations were jackbooted by the Armed Forces. Ayub Khan’s hijacking of power indicated that Pakistan was poised for a different political direction in which the Army, Bureaucracy and the ISI were to play important roles.
Some scholars have averred that the Inter Services Intelligence, as a second hub of intelligence apparatus was conceived after the alleged failure of the PIB to cater appropriate intelligence about the Indian Army’s deployment and political determination of the Indian leaders to pit the entire nation against Pakistani aggression in Kashmir in 1948. Such assumptions do not reflect the truth. A British officer serving the Pakistan army conceived the idea of creating an intelligence and security organ for better coordination between the divergent wings of the Armed Forces and also an agency for external intelligence generation. The inspiration and idea were provided by the British Home and Foreign Offices, who still considered Pakistan as its strategic backwaters. British interest in and around 1948 still hovered around Russian influence in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Chinese ambitions in Tibet and Karakoram region. The British wanted to mould the ISI in the pattern of its own geopolitical interests in the region that could make wider manoeuvres outside the domestic compulsions of Pakistan; still considered by some British leadership as their backyard valet. The ISI was not created by a statesman, like Truman, a political leader and thinker of his time created the CIA in 1947. The ISI was created in the image of perception of the British strategic policy in the region.

Jinnah was, largely, a British-bred constitutional democrat and he relied on the British iron-frame that he shared with his friend turned foe, Jawaharlal Nehru. His passion for Kashmir was not simply based on religious affinity of the majority of the people. His calculations were based on strategic inputs that he had received from his British mentors and the bureaucracy that he had inherited. On the other hand, Nehru’s passion for Kashmir was emotional and the Indian National Congress had never adopted a strategic and geo-political approach towards Kashmir, a Muslim majority state ruled by an instable Hindu king. Nehru had invested all his eggs in Abdullah basket and had not taken into consideration that geo-politically Kashmir was going to play an important role in post Transfer of Power and Cold War era and it was necessary for the Indian National Congress to cultivate the indecisive king. The Second World War had rendered Britain bankrupt. It was in a hurry to escape from India, after handing over power to the feuding Muslim and Hindu protagonists. The Indian leaders of the day failed to realise that in post-British era Kashmir was going to emerge as a geopolitical entity of great importance. It bordered Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the Soviet Union and commanded important mountain passes connecting India with Central Asia and China.

Jinnah had capitalised on this apparent failure of Nehru and his team of political and bureaucratic support base. He utilised his existing intelligence machineries to mobilise, train, arm and deploy the so-called tribal volunteers. The Pakistan IB and the rudimentary elements of the Military Intelligence had played their cards well. On the other hand the Indian intelligence had fumbled and had failed to warn and motivate the political leadership about the necessity of augmented military preparations against the well-planned Pakistani thrust in Kashmir; the entire Kashmir, inclusive of the Northern Territories And Gilgit Agency.

Jinnah would have not initiated any action to let down Ghulam Mohammad, the first Director of the PIB. Mohammad had done a better job than his Indian counterpart. Jinnah and his political establishment were aware of the need for strengthening the armed forces and its intelligence prowess. He and his political successors did not intend to weaken the PIB by floating the ISI and fashion it after the CIA, which was created in 1947. The initial political liberal democrats would have not liked the idea of endowing the bureaucracy and the military establishment with hegemonistic powers at the cost of political freedom that was earned by the Muslims of the sub-continent over mountains of dead bodies and rivulets of human blood. Exigencies of situation had made them to accept the British plan as a second hub of intelligence generating tool.

However, these democrats and believers in parliamentary democracy were few in numbers and after the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan, the Mohajir dominated Muslim League lost relevance in Pakistan. The bureaucracy and Army filled in that vacuum and the ISI gradually turned into a powerful arm of the Punjabi dominated Establishment.

The Inter Services Intelligence Directorate was conceived, way back in 1948, as a nucleus inter-services co-ordination module and a tool to generate external intelligence, by Major General R. Cawthorne, an Australia born British Army officer, who had opted for the Pakistan Army on the eve of Transfer of Power, and served as the Deputy Chief of Staff of the new nation. Though the credit is given to Cawthorne the inspiration, as stated earlier had come from Britain. Pakistan army had inherited a Military Intelligence unit and did not require a special agency to coordinate between different wings of the infant armed forces. Pakistan was also not positioned as a global player to take up a crash programme for creating an external intelligence agency like the MI6 and the CIA. At the initial stage Britain needed the ISI as a companion agency to strengthen its own strategic perspectives in the region. However, Pakistan had different games in mind.

The Kashmir war episode had inspired a section of the corps of Army officers that the political leaders had mishandled the operation, did not fully support the Kashmir war commander (Gen. Akbar) and did not commit the Punjab Boundary Force under Maj. Gen. Rees to the Kashmir war efforts. The disparate units of the Pakistan army, active strength 30,000 odd, did not give good accounts of coordination, planned offensive and superior logistical supplies. But for the logistical difficulties faced by Delhi and political vacillation and miscalculation, the so-called Azad Kashmir Forces would have been cleared out from entire Kashmir Valley just in another 30 days. India under Nehru fumbled and stumbled at the doors of the UN, instead of allowing the Army to reoccupy Muzaffarabad.

This concern of senior Pakistani officers was shared by Britain, which was keen on using Pakistan as a watchtower against Afghanistan, Russia and China. The British HQ also wanted the ISI for keeping watch on the new corps of Pakistani Army officers.

The Kashmir war debacle and lack of coordination between the army units on the one hand and the political leadership on the other, had prompted military brains like General Rees and Major General Cawthorne to conceptualise the Inter Services Intelligence as a pivotal force to cater to military requirements, long term strategic planning, inter-agency coordination, grooming and training of military attaches posted to Pakistani diplomatic missions and to establish working relationship with friendly foreign military intelligence agencies etc. It is said that the British MI6 had also pitched in support for Cawthorne, as the dying Empire still longed for strategic geo-political control on the sub-continent, Afghanistan, Tibet region of China and the Soviet Republics in Central Asia. Both the factors were responsible for creation of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

The father figure of the ISI was Lt. General Ghulam Jillani Khan, who fashioned the outfit as a virulent fighting machine against Pakistan’s archenemy, India and other geo-political adversaries. Between 1948 and 1958 the ISI head directly reported to the army chief, who in turn briefed the Prime Minister and Internal affairs Minister adequately. But with the advent of Ayub Khan the intelligence outfits also changed. The ISI chief was often required to report directly to the President who was also the army chief. Therefore, we have on record the list of ISI chiefs from 1958 onwards, when the agency ceased to be a part of the MI and started emerging as a unique institution that had shed all pretensions of accountability to the administrative machineries of the civilian governments.

Following is the line up of leadership of the ISI from the period democracy was hijacked by the Armed Forces:

1. Brig. Riazat Hussain 1958 onwards.
2. Lt.Gen. Ghulam Jillani Khan 1969 to early years of Zia-ul- Haq
3. Lt.Gen. Akhtar Abdur Rahman Zia regime till March 1987.
4. Lt.Gen. Hamid Gul March ’87-May 1989.
5. Lt.Gen. (Retd) Shamsur Rahman Kallue May ’89-Aug 1990.
6. Maj. General Assad Durrani Aug ’90-March 1992.
7. Lt.Gen. Javed Nasir March’92- May 1993.
8. Lt.Gen. Javed Ashraf Kazi May’93-June 1994.
9. Lt.Gen. Nasim Raja June’94-1996.
10. Lt.Gen. Ziauddin 1996---sacked by Musharraf in 1999. His retirement benefits were reportedly denied.
11. Lt.Gen. Mahmood Ahmad Dismissed by Musharraf under American pressures for complicity with the Taliban. India, it is reported, had supplied supporting materials to the USA.
12. Lt. Gen Ehsan-ul- Haq Oct 8, 2001. He was the Corps Commander at Peshawar. He was formerly posted to Pakistan High Commission in Delhi in the rank of Counsellor. Removed in October 2004.
13. Lt.Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani Appointed on October 4, 2004.

Like most other military-controlled intelligence organisations, the ISI did not prefer staffing its corps of officers and operatives from amongst the civilians. A few civilian personnel inducted at the initial stages to perform the desk jobs were eased out in 1956 after Ghulam Mohammad and Iskandar Mirza initiated the process of combined military and bureaucratic stranglehold on Pakistan. The present estimated strength of the ISI, about 18,000 is mostly drawn from the Army, Air Force and Navy, with a minor sprinkling of civilians.

Changes in the ISI leadership in recent times by General Musharraf are interesting: Why was Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed shifted from X corps, Rawalpindi, to become DG, ISI? Was it because he was needed more in the ISI or was there less trust to keep him on in Rawalpindi?

Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed Shah, DG ISI, enjoyed the absolute trust of Gen. Musharraf, and that was the reason why Gen. Musharraf is in office today as President. The position of Corps Commander, X Corps, Rawalpindi, is very crucial and only the most trusted colleague of the COAS is usually entrusted with the job. This was the case with Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed, who literally made the entire running in the “counter-coup” of October 12, 1999. He, Lt.-Gen. Muhammad Khalid Aziz and Gen. Musharraf were extremely close since their service together in the Special Services Group (SSG). However, Lt.-Gen. Aziz was not aware of the astounding events of October 12, 1999, until Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin arrived at GHQ at about 14.00hrs announcing that he was there to take over as COAS.

Lt.-Gen. Mehmood Ahmed was shifted, after the October 12, 1999, coup to the post of DG ISI because Gen. Musharraf wanted to obtain absolute control over ISI, which had until the coup, been controlled by Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin. There was no diminution of trust between Gen. Mehmood and Gen. Musharraf. However, Gen. Mehmood, Gen. Musharraf and Maj. Gen. Jamshed Gulrez (the new Corps Commander, X Corps, Rawalpindi, and formerly one of the principal “watchdogs” in ISI, monitoring Lt.-Gen. Ziauddin), were together involved in the Kargil operation in mid-1999, and clearly have remained very much a close group. This accounts for Maj.-Gen. Jamshed Gulrez’s posting to X Corps, which is the most trusted operational posting in the Army. (Position as in early 2004).

However, Lt. Gen. Mehmood Ahmed was shifted under US pressure after Indian sources tipped off the Americans about flow of fund from Pakistan to the terrorists who had perpetrated the 9/11 attack on America.

In the days, following Lt. General Mahmood Ahmad's dismissal, a report published in the Times of India, revealed the links between Pakistan's chief spy Lt. General Mahmood Ahmad and the presumed "ring leader" of the WTC attacks Mohamed Atta. In many regards, the Times of India report constituted “the missing link” to an understanding of who was behind the terrorist attacks of September 11. The details of this sordid Pakistani involvement have been highlighted in a subsequent chapter.

The person to follow Gen Mahmood, LT. Gen. Ehsan-ul-Haq was said to be a confidant of Musharraf. However, in Pakistan’s queer military rule trust is a mirage. The latest changes in October 2004 indicate that the top military ruler in Pakistan did not like his trust to be pinned on a singular point for a prolonged period. He likes to reshuffle his inner group as frequently as it is necessary to maintain his own stability.

Following is the broad divisions of the functional structure of the ISI:

1. Joint Counter-Intelligence Bureau (JCIB) --Responsible for Counterintelligence activities and operations
2. Joint Intelligence Signal Bureau (JISB)— Generates and denies SignaI intelligence\and liase with the Signal Corps of the Armed Forces and US and UK signal intelligence community.
3. 3. Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB--It handles political matters. A Section is assigned to study and assess Indian political developments.
4. 4. Joint Intelligence Finance (JIF)-- It manages budgetary and non-budgetary funds of the ISI, evaluates and approves critical operations
5. Joint Intelligence Technical (JIT)--It is responsible for technical, including ElInt, PhotoInt, ImageInt, SatInt etc.
6. Joint Arms Direction Group (JADG)--This wing is responsible for planning coordination in military exercises and procurement of weapons from unconventional sources, besides periodical evaluation of joint exercises.
7. Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM)--It oversees forward intelligence tasks, sabotage and subversion operations in foreign countries. Three Sections are devoted to India.
8. Joint Intelligence North (JIN)--It is the hub of operations in Kashmir and other “special operations.”
9. Foreign Liaison Section (FLS)--Responsible for liaison with friendly foreign intelligence services.
10. Inter Services Federal Intelligence (ISFI)--It supplements the intelligence efforts of the provincial governments and often works as the direct arm of the political/milit-ary bosses in internal political matters.
11. Public and Service Groups (P&SG)--It functions in close liaison with the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and maintains media liaison. The post-holder is generally close to the Chief of the Army Staff and the top executive. The position holder is handpicked.
12. Joint Intelligence X--Its exact functional charter is not known. It is said that this wing is responsible for Intelligence Estimate, Threat Assessment and Formulation of Highly Sensitive Operations, including Assassination, in collaboration with the JIB, JIM, JIN and ISFI

The Joint Intelligence Finance manages the central command of the ISI and its personnel policies. Besides managing the human and asset resources, almost all the top intelligence and dirty-trick operations are evaluated and cleared by the JIF. There are reliable inputs that this wing of the ISI also manages the Drug Money and operates several frontal financial organisations, such as leasing companies, financial corporations, construction companies, NGOs and charitable organisations inside Pakistan and in some foreign countries like Bangladesh, UAE, Kuwait and Nepal etc.

Inter Services Federal Intelligence; though officially responsible for inter-services co-ordination, is known to have been used extensively for internal intelligence, especially in suppressing political rivals, in tandem with the Joint Intelligence Bureau. The internal political roles played by the ISI have been highlighted by a number of politicians and intellectuals, including Benazir Bhutto. We shall devote a separate chapter on this aspect.

Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous mainly looks after forward external intelligence in targeted countries. It is concerned with forward intelligence thrust inside India, infiltration of trained agents, terrorists and Islamist jihadees inside India. It also supervises some assigned operations from third country bases in conjunction with the JIX and JIN.

The JIN is especially responsible for all operational responsibilities in Jammu & Kashmir, starting from recruitment of the terrorists, their training, arming and infiltration in the target areas. The Special Services Group (SSG), a US/UK trained commando force, expert in high altitude warfare, pitches in with the ISI in these spheres of special operations. The JIN is also responsible for floating and sustaining fundamentalist jihadist organisations, which front the ISI in its clandestine proxy-war activities. Brigadier Abdullah (as in 2003 December), in charge of JIN operations in Kashmir was, at one point of time, shifted to Muzaffarabad for augmenting the so-called mujahideen thrust inside Indian Kashmir. After 9/11 attacks on the USA and 13/12 attack on the Indian parliament Pakistan claimed that Brig. Abdullah was withdrawn from Muzaffarabad. This hollow gesture was aimed at misleading the USA, which had advised Pakistan to tone down its interference in Indian administered Kashmir. President Musharraf has done very little to slow down the activities of the JIN and its army of mujahideens, Taliban and al Qaeda collaborators. According to informed Indian and western sources Pakistan still runs over 100 training centres for the mujahideens located in Pak occupied Kashmir, Punjab and the NWFP. A recent input from Indian agencies indicates that one Brigadier Qasim of the Northern Light Infantry has been located at Muzaffarabad to oversee and coordinate the ISI and tanzeem operations in Indian Kashmir. New camps have been established alongside army detachment to give impression that the jihad operatives were parts of the regular armed forces. If this is correct Brig, Qasim has replaced Brig. Abdullah, a cohort of Pakistani minister Rashid who came to the limelight after discloser by certain Indian Kashmiri rebel leaders that Rashid had organised several Jihadist camps for operations in Indian Kashmir.

Both the JIM, and the JIN, it is reported by knowledgeable sources, had established strategic linkages with the Islamist terrorist/mujahideen groups, including mujahideens from the al Qaeda ranks with a view to striking deep inside India. The hijacking of IC 814, attack on the Red Fort and attack on the Indian Parliament, it is reported, was master minded by the JIM, in tandem with the terrorists of the Jais-e-Muhammad, Hijb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayeba, whose ranks were trained by the Al Qaeda in eastern Afghanistan camps. It is now confirmed that Osama bin Laden was in constant touch with the IC 814 hijackers, once they landed at Kandahar. Interrogation of Muttawakil, the former foreign minister of the Taliban regime, by the US and Indian investigative agencies have confirmed the linkages between the hijackers and the Taliban and the Al Qaeda.

The Joint Intelligence Signals, located at Malir Cantonment, Karachi, is responsible for interception and analysis of signal intelligence and breaking of codes. It also supplies the ISI operatives in India and other foreign countries with low to high-grade cipher materials. The Joint Intelligence Signals had assumed greater responsibilities as the Cold War ally of the USA. Being a member of the SEATO and CENTO Pakistan had received sophisticated monitoring equipments and listening devices. Besides offering operational platforms to the USA Pakistan was helped by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), U.S Army Signal Centre at Fort Gordon and National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) etc to strengthen its signal intelligence prowess.

It is reported that The JIS has its listening and observation posts at Peshawar, Parachir, Bada Bier, Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Hyderabad, Thatta, Gwadar, Qila Ladgast, Gilgit, Skardu, Chitral and Manshera etc places. Besides operating radio signals intelligence, some of these units are equipped with sophisticated equipments to monitor the footprints of Indian satellite communications and monitoring other Electronic intelligence operations originated by India, Iran, and the former USSR republics in Central Asia.

The satellite imagery facilities of Pakistan have recently received sophisticated equipments from China and the USA. Some French equipment has also been acquired during last two years. The Cold War supplies of US equipments for monitoring SigInt and ElInt from the former Soviet Union and China are still in place and some of these equipments have recently been replenished as part of the package of US forays in Afghanistan. The Joint Intelligence Signals was supplied with super-fast computers and software to break and read the cipher traffic of the Soviet Union and China. In the recent past, it has received from the USA digital analysers for code breaking. That’s how the ISI enjoys an edge over its Indian counterparts

The Joint Intelligence Bureau is theoretically responsible for monitoring developments in neighbouring countries, affairs of Pakistan's military attaches posted in Missions abroad and activities of guest military attaches in home turf.

The JIB also acts as the political wing of the ISI. Several Directors of the ISI have deftly manipulated the internal political events in Pakistan. Notable amongst them are Lt. Gen. Ghulam Jillani Khan, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, Lt. Gen. Javed Nasir and Lt. Gen Ziauddin. Pakistan’s political history is replete with military coups and installation of puppet civilian governments. In these operations, pivotal roles were played by the ISI. In fact, most of the political operations initiated by the army are managed and executed by the ISI. Most other enforcing agencies of Pakistan grudgingly accept the predominant position of the ISI.

A section of the foreign media reported that Pervez Musharraf had recently abolished the JIB. A spokesperson of the military regime promptly denied this. In fact, General Musharraf had adopted certain diversionary tactics and operational camouflages to cover up the activities of the JIB. This mild course correction was necessitated by recent Pakistani bonhomie with the USA and its free-world allies. President Musharraf is a defter manipulator than his predecessors in uniform. His deemed actions against the jihadists are aimed at consolidating his grip on the Armed Forces and the ‘street warriors of Pakistan’.

The Afghan Bureau, located about 12 km away from the GTHQ of the ISI had played key role during Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and successive communist regimes. Brigadier Youssaf, in charge of Afghanistan operations of the ISI, has chronicled the exploits of the Afghan Bureau in his book, The Bear Trap. These exploits will be examined separately.
The Central Asian Bureau has played important roles in fomenting Islamist movements in the XUAR region of China, Chechnya, Dagestan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan etc. These episodes and ISI’s involvement in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Kosovo will also be examined alongside ISI’s role in the South and South East Asia.

Like most other intelligence organisations, the ISI has put in position a well-defined functional and operational structure.

Director General Intelligence (DG ISI)
(Three star General)
Deputy Director General-Political
(Two star officer)
Deputy Director General-External I
(Two star officer)
Deputy Director General-External II
(Two star officer)


The number of two star officers has proliferated over years and it is estimated that 4 such officers of the rank of Major General (one each from the Air Force and Navy) have been put in charge of designated divisions. These are reported to be post Nawaz Sharif developments.

The DDG (Pol) controls the territorial and subject desks and sections, which cover the activities of the political parties, student, labour, mujahideen organisations, madrasas and religious institutions, tribal affairs, internal surveillance/security duties, VIP security duties, minority affairs and anti-terrorism activities. An officer of the rank of Brigadier generally heads each sub-division. However, officers of the rank of Colonels and Majors head some of the lesser units.

The DDG-Pol continues to function with full blessings of the military dictator and is said to have been tasked to screen the candidates, eliminate the undesirable aspirants either by persuasion or by force and to ensure that the election returns a rubber stamp National Assembly. Some of the Pakistani newspapers have been brave enough to expose such nefarious tactics of the ISI.

The office of the DDG-External I requires some special mention. It controls the ‘foreign operations’ of the ISI and presides over the most dreaded wing of the ISI-Counterintelligence. It also covers the territorial, geo-political, economic, strategic intelligence affairs in the Middle East, Africa and other countries. The DDG-Ex I also maintains liaison with the PMO, whenever there is one, and with the office of the CMLA/CEO, whatever designation a military dictator prefers to decorate himself with. DDG-External I is a powerful position.
Counterintelligence is a multi-faceted instrument. Separate sub-divisions cover groups of diplomatic missions on Pakistani soil and carries out human, technical, electronic and signal surveillance etc against the target missions. This vast sweep of activity includes identification and neutralisation of embassy/mission based foreign agents as also identification, interception, categorisation and final disposal of foreign intelligence agents operating from non-diplomatic bases and hubs. This division has strong presence in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and a few other important places, especially along Indian, Iran and Afghan borders. India, as expected, gets special attention of the JCIB.
The JCIB also carries out liaison work with Pakistan based diplomats of the accredited countries and maintains professional linkages with the intelligence agencies of friendly and fraternal countries; like the USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nepal, Bangladesh and China etc. Some instances of the JCIB outstretching its operational activities into the areas defined for the JIM have been reported from time to time. The JCIB, it is reported, takes up independent operations in countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Gulf locations and India. Reports of cross-connectivity and friction between the JCIB and the JIM are common. Such conflicts of operational interests have been reported from Nepal and Bangladesh, the countries used by Pakistan for intelligence encirclement of India.


ISI Interference in Pakistan’s Internal Matters

Pakistan was not destined to be an anchor of democracy. Its leaders, and latter, the military belied the expectations that Pakistan would emerge as another Turkey, a secular country, upholding the dignified values of modernism with democratic global connectivity. The combined bureaucratic and military forces hijacked its internal politics. Military in Pakistan has emerged as the destiny maker of the people of Pakistan, who have been made to believe that Islam, Sharia and Hadith are more important than modern developments based on the universal principles of democracy, constitutional liberty and secularism. In defining and deciding the archaic political stagnation of Pakistan, the military rulers and oligarchic pseudo democrats liberally used the Inter Services Intelligence.

The Internal political operations of the ISI transcended the defined intelligence parameters assigned to it as a wing of Pakistan’s military intelligence. More than a quarter century of military dictatorship had empowered the ISI to work as the ‘third estate’ of the Establishment. On several occasions it abrogated the role of the ‘second estate’ as well, pushing the bureaucracy to the third position.

The ISI’s involvement in internal political matters has been well documented by several Pakistani and foreign authors. Some of the interesting reading materials have been recorded by John Kaniyalil (The Master Manipulator), Brig. Tirmazi (Profiles of Intelligence), and Lt.Gen. Gul Hassan (Memoirs), Z.A.Bhutto (If I Am Assassinated…), and Benazir Bhutto (Daughter of the East) etc. The list is fairly long.

Democracy had eclipsed in Pakistan with the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan. The later democratic totems were hated for their inefficiency and also for being Bengalis. The Punjabi triumvirate of Ghulam Mohammad, Choudhri Mohammad Ali and Iskandar Mirza (had Bengali blood in him) had started involving the ISI in internal political manipulation, as they did not have sufficient faith on the overly police staffed PIB. This trend was capitalised extensively by President Ayub Khan. He was the first Pakistani leader to involve the ISI with the ethnic insurgencies in North East India. Former president Iskandar Mirza in an interview had admitted this fact to the Pakistani High Commissioner in London. Memoirs of Gul Hassan.
Pakistan is not the only country that uses intelligence machineries for political purposes. Established democracies like the USA and UK apart developing democratic countries like India too have used their internal and external intelligence organs to protect and promote the political interests of the ruling parties. Most Indian leaders used the R&AW, IB, CBI and other enforcement agencies against their political adversaries. Any conscientious Indian intelligence officer has not yet candidly revealed these nasty secrets of India. My book ‘Open Secrets’, however, has given some glimpse to the degree of misuse of the tools of intelligence gathering and security management by the political leaders. But inappropriate utilisation of the intelligence apparatuses in India was not directed at system change, except for once, during Indira Gandhi’s emergency regime. This is the basic difference between the two countries.
However, the use of the ISI infrastructure both by the elected governments and the military dictators right from Ayub Khan to Musharraf, with brief interludes of the Bhuttos and Nawaz Sharif, is a mirror reflection of the use of the apparatuses and apparatchiks of the intelligence and political police by regimes headed by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Nixon and to similar extent by leaders like Mobutus and Mugabes.

The Pakistani leaders have freely used the intelligence organisations, both the PIB and the ISI for suppressing internal political dissent. In this regard, there is hardly any difference between Z.A. Bhutto and his blue-eyed-boy turned assassin Zia-ul-Haq. Such aberrations happen with solar-regularity, as both India and Pakistan refuse to rein in the intelligence organisations by adopting structural and regulatory Acts and making them responsible and accountable to the representatives of the people and the Constitution of the country.
As the early blossoms of democracy in Pakistan withered away and the civil servant/army coterie hijacked the fledgling nation, Major General Iskandar Mirza had started nursing and nurturing the ISI as an instrument of governance. The extra-constitutional rulers direly needed an extra-legal instrument to perpetuate their stranglehold and to carry out a different kind of war against its umbilical enemy, India, more virulently than the descendants of Ishmael fight the descendants of Brother Isaac.
With General Ayub Khan usurping the reins of power in 1958, the ISI received fresh shot in its arms. It is needless to mention that officers from the Army-the strongest wing of the armed forces, the second pillar of the Pakistani Establishment, have always headed the ISI.

Pakistan Intelligence Bureau, under direction of President Ayub Khan, was the first intelligence organisation to contact the rebel Naga leaders. They had arranged safe accommodation for A.Z. Phizo in Dhaka and had arranged for his escape to the UK. It is believed by informed sources that Pakistan IB was assisted by the MI6 in arranging the escapade of A.Z. Phizo. It is more or less certain that by 1958 the Pakistan IB had established firm linkages with the Naga insurgent groups and was responsible for training and arming them in tandem with Pakistan army.

Ayub Khan was the first president to set up a review commission on the functioning of the intelligence outfits of Pakistan mainly with a view to tighten his stranglehold on the Establishment
The Pakistani rulers have had the pleasure and compulsion of contributing to the growth of the Inter Services Intelligence. Field Marshal Ayub Khan, General Yahya Khan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, General Zia-ul-Haq, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musarraf used the ISI for unleashing proxy-war and sustained sabotage and subversion campaign against India. Z. A. Bhutto’s use of the ISI to crush the Baluch rebellion is no less a gory chapter than the genocide in former East Pakistan.

Contrary to speculations that General Zia-ul Haq was the mastermind behind honing and sharpening the dirty operational edges of the ISI, it was Pakistan's man of destiny, Z.A. Bhutto, who had strengthened the military dominated intelligence outfit and virtually formalised its involvement in domestic politics. Bhutto had manipulated the ISI to produce intelligence that had convinced Ayub Khan that Nehru’s death and Lal Bahdur Shashtri’s tenuous rule offered the best opportunity to invade Kashmir. Pakistani historians and military strategists now recognise the fact that Bhutto had forced the war on Ayub Khan. His manipulation of Lt. General Ghulam Jillani Khan, Director General ISI, and a few other Generals around Yahya Khan before and during the Bangladesh war, formed part of a cynical conspiracy, which had lead to Pakistan's break up. It was Bhutto who manipulated the post ’71 Pakistan Army to his advantage and upgraded the rank of the ISI chief to three-star Lieutenant General. General Jillani later survived the judicial hanging of his Sindhi benefactor and continued to enjoy Zia's patronage.
Russian involvement in Afghanistan in 1979 had changed the old geo-political equations. Involvement of the US, China and Islamic countries in the new killing fields of Afghanistan had tempted General Zia to involve the ISI as a shadow extension of Pakistan's regular forces in the Afghan imbroglio. He had, in fact, remodelled the ISI to a CIA style organisation, adding to its sinister arsenal the unbridled power to interfere in internal affairs, including affairs of his political and military opponents. Legal murder of Bhutto is a testimony to the sinister capabilities of the ISI, nursed so carefully by the slain Premier himself.

Having turned Pakistan into a theocratic state Zia also encouraged the madrasas and fundamentalist tanzeems to collaborate with the ISI for breeding and supplying jihadis to the killing fields of Afghanistan and to the new war theatre in Kashmir. The ISI was made to infuse in its ranks more fundamentalist adherents to Zia-brand Islam. Zia had encouraged the ISI operatives and the ‘deeni tanzeems’ to break the barrier between the state controlled and privately organised machines for manufacturing jihadists. His regime was responsible for establishment of direct liaison between Osama and his Arab legion and the ISI and its Jihadist ‘street warriors.’

From Bhutto and Zia there was no looking back for the most important pillar of Pakistani Establishment. The ISI had turned into a pseudo-political entity under Zia and absence of political parties and democratic process and the Russian presence in Afghanistan had conferred upon it hallow of invincibility. The US and China winked at the growth of the ISI and abated its growth as an instrument for shifting the tectonic plate of Islamic Jihadist movement from the Arab World to the fertile soils of Pakistan, where sub-continental moderate Islam was being replaced by orthodox Sunni Wahhabism. In fact, the CIA had organised specialised courses for the ISI operatives in its Georgia facility for Vietnam style guerrilla warfare.
To study the correlation between the ISI and Pakistan’s internal political development we may broadly divide the canvass into four distinct periods: Ayub/Yahya regime, Z. A. Bhutto period, Zia-ul-Haq regime and post Zia regimes marked by Benazir-Sharif interlude and Pervez Musharraf period. These periods are interconnected and there may be some frequent forward and backward references to facts, events and developments.

The ISI was activated in a big way to monitor and subvert the language movement in East Pakistan, which later took the shape of autonomy and independence demand. It is believed that the ISI, primarily tasked with the liaison job with the Naga insurgents were drafted to internal intelligence matters and matters related to organising opposition to the ‘Indian inspired language movement’ and strengthening the religious fundamentalists around 1958. In addition to Dhaka new ISI detachments attached to pure West Pakistani regiments were stationed at Comilla, Chittagong, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Pabna and Bagura etc places mainly with a view to supplement the PIB, in which there were numbers of Bengali employees. In East Pakistan the ISI did not employ any Bengali personnel.

Shahid Suhrawardy and his lieutenants like Mujibur Rahman were kept under ISI surveillance, as the military-bureaucratic leaders in West Pakistan were not sure of allegiance of the Bengali elements in the civilian intelligence fraternity. Bengali speaking Pakistani leaders believed that West Pakistan had used the ISI in reducing the influences of Sher-e-Bangal Fazlul Rahman and Mulana Bhasani and for prompting up Nurul Amin. The Bengali sub-nationalists dubbed the latter as a collaborator of the Punjabi clique. This chain of involvement of the ISI in East Pakistan had culminated in the alleged detection of the Agartala Conspiracy case, in which Mujibur Rahman and his colleagues were implicated for conspiring with India and the oppressive measures of Pakistan army that preceded the break up of Pakistan.

With a view to undermining the alleged links between the language and autonomy agitators of the Awami League and Indian intelligence the ISI had set up forward posts near key East Pakistani towns closer to Indian border. Some of these detachments were responsible for infiltrating sections of Indian Muslims and other ‘agents’ -- Marxist-Leninist protagonists with a view to spreading disinformation and gaining forward intelligence about Indian involvement with the Bengali agitators. Around the same time, the ISI was encouraged to infiltrate the Jammat-e-Islami of East Pakistan and several Ansar forces for fomenting anti-India and anti-Hindu agitations. Several Sufi Peers were also infiltrated by the ISI for opposing the alleged pro-India activities of the Awami League. In this regard, the Peers of Maijh Bhandar, Monar Char and Narayanganj are rated as prime forces that had allowed the traditional Sufi platforms to be used by the staunch Wahhabis.

Ayub Khan’s effort to depoliticise Pakistan had pushed the country back to the days of colonial rule. His Basic Democracy Programme and programme for subduing the media had witnessed aggressive inroads by the IB and the ISI in the domain of public life. The National Press Trust was created to manage news and radical newspapers like Pakistan Times were transformed into government organs. Ayub Khan had even assigned the task of informal pre=screening of all newspapers to the ISI, a job normally done by the IB. The proclaimed democrats like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif etc also exhibited such fascist tendencies.

There cannot be a better source than falling back on Altaf Gauhar, the Pakistani author. He has extensively commented in his book ‘How Intelligence Agencies Run Our Politics’ and has covered a vast canvas of internal operations of the ISI and MI. To quote him, “I had opportunity to watch quite closely the working of our own Intelligence agencies during the 1965 war with India. At that time the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was headed by Brigadier Riaz Hussain, who later became the Governor of Balochistan. The Military Intelligence (MI) was under Brigadier Muhammad Irshad and A. B. Awan was the Director of the Intelligence Bureau (DIB). Each agency had its own sphere of duties but they had a common goal -- preserving the national security. Since there is hardly any significant political activity, domestic or foreign, national or international, which does not, directly or indirectly, impinge on national security, there was much overlapping in the work of the three agencies… “Despite the all-embracing definition of national security unnecessary conflict in day to day working was avoided as the ISI and the MI confined themselves to matters of direct military interest and the IB concentrated on domestic political activities. The DIB reported directly to the Prime Minister and the two military agencies to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (C-in-C). It was left to the C-in-C to bring all matters of interest to the notice of the Prime Minister through the Ministry of Defence…
“This arrangement continued fairly smoothly until the imposition of Martial Law in 1958. I was in the Prime Minister's Secretariat during the last days of parliamentary government in 1957-58 and Malik Feroz Khan Noon used to get reports of the contacts which military intelligence agencies were making with the political leaders of different parties. There was little that he could do about it since President Iskander Mirza was drawing up his own plan of action to put an end to parliamentary rule in collusion with the C-in-C, General Ayub Khan. Noon was resisting Mirza's pressure to grant a four-year extension of term to Ayub Khan. I remember Ayub Khan bursting into my office one afternoon in full, uniform. I was relieved when he said: "Since the Principal Secretary has gone for lunch I thought I would ask you to request the Prime Minister to stay with me in Rawalpindi when he comes on a formal visit next week." He left the room before I could recover my breath. When I conveyed the message to the PM he said: "I know he wants me to give him an extension of term. His term does not end till 1959. Why is he in such a hurry?" Years later when I mentioned this incident to Ayub Khan he said: "The fellow was under the influence of his wife. He wanted to promote General Sher Ali. My boys were keeping tabs on him….

“Once the Martial Law was promulgated in 1958 all the intelligence agencies came under the direct control of the President and Chief Martial Law Administrator. The maintenance of national Security, which was the principal function of these agencies, came to mean the consolidation of the Ayub regime; any criticism of the regime was seen a threat to national security. The three intelligence agencies started competing with each other in demonstrating their loyalty to Ayub Khan and his system of government. Since Ayub Khan was reluctant to increase the military budget, neither the ISI nor the MI could post their officers in the districts and because of that limitation their domestic activities remained quite restrained. But they continued to be assigned specific duties to keep a watch on 'undesirable' politicians and civil servants…

“When I came to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, I found a psychological warfare unit under operation in the office of the Secretary. It was, headed by Col Mujibur Rahman, who later became the Secretary of the Ministry in the Zia-ul-Haq regime. Was it an intelligence plant meant to keep an eye on the working of the civil government? Whatever its purpose I found it a complete waste of time and I was able to persuade the President to have it recalled by the GHQ…

“The President used to receive regular reports on the political situation in the country from the ISI and the MI. These reports in sealed envelopes marked 'Eyes Only' were usually handed over to the President by the C-in-C. On a few occasions the President gave me these reports and it seemed to me that the agencies were keeping the politicians, particularly the East Pakistanis, under close surveillance. I rarely found anything insightful in these reports. ..

“The DIB had direct access to the President and his weekly reports used to be fairly exhaustive. It was during the presidential election in l964 that the ISI and the MI became extremely active. While the DIB gave the President a detailed, assessment of his prospects in the election the ISI and the MI kept him informed of the trend of public opinion based largely on gossip. The election results showed that the three agencies had seriously under estimated the popularity of Mohtrama Miss Fatima Jinnah and given Ayub Khan too optimistic a picture of his prospects…

“The crisis of intelligence came during the 1965 war. Brigadier Riaz was good enough to show me his set-up, an impressive affair judging by the sophisticated equipment and the operators at work. He told me that he had contacts inside the Occupied Kashmir and in other major Indian cities. "I will flood you with news. Don't worry”…

“When the war started there was a complete blackout of news from all the intelligence agencies. When I got nothing out of the ISI for two days I went to Brigadier Riaz only to learn that all his contacts had gone underground…

The performance of the MI was even more frustrating. The mobile transmitter which the MI had acquired to broadcast the Voice of Kashmir conked out and Brigadier Irshad came to me to find him a spare transmitter. When I told him that it would take at least a month to import another transmitter he pleaded with me to take over the broadcast part of the operation. "How can I do that I know nothing about the operation?” …

“I protested. “But that is the beauty of it." said Irshad, "even I know very little about it." It did not take the Indians long to extract the whole operational plan out of the 'infiltrators' whom they captured the moment they entered the Indian occupied territory in Kashmir. Four of them were put on All India Radio to make a public confession. I heard the details of the operation on the air in utter disbelief. I rushed to Muzaffarabad to acquaint Irshad with what I had heard. He fell back in his chair and moaned: "The bastards have spilt the beans."…
“After the cease-fire I brought these incidents to Ayub Khan's notice and urged him to review the working of these agencies. “They have no idea of intelligence work," I submitted "all they can do is investigative work like sub-inspectors of police, tapping telephone conversations and chasing the suspects."…

“Much later Ayub Khan set up a committee to examine the working of the agencies under General the Yahya Khan. Both A.B. Awan and I were members of the committee. The GHQ tried to put all the blame on IB for their own incompetence. Yahya wanted the committee to recommend that officers of ISI and the Ml should be posted at district headquarters. Awan strongly opposed the idea and I backed him. We could not understand the purpose of getting the military agencies involved in domestic administration. As we left the meeting Awan said to me “They are planning to impose martial law.” He proved right though it took the Army quite some time to get rid of Ayub Khan after unleashing a popular campaign against him…
“The intelligence agencies got even more deeply involved in domestic politics under General Yahya Khan. The ISI jumped headlong into the political crisis in East Pakistan. A National Security Council was created under the chairmanship of General Yahya Khan with Major General Ghulam Umar as second in command to control the intelligence operation, which was meant to ensure that no political party should get an overall majority in the general election. An amount of Rs 29 lac was put at the disposal of General Umar for the purpose. Before the Army action General Akbar, who was the head of the ISI and with whom I had good relations when I was in service, requested me that I should introduce him to some Bengali academics and journalists. The ISI was trying to infiltrate into the inner circles of the Awami League. Had I given him any names they too have been put on Rao Farman Ali's hit list of Bengali intellectuals? The operation proved a total disaster. Lawrence Ziring says:"New efforts at a political solution might have been attempted later, but army intelligence failed time and again to correctly assess the situation and the demeanour of the generals was hardly conducive to rational decision-making.” (Lawrence Ziring, The Tragedy of East Pakistan, OUP, 1997).
“For General (retd) Aslam Beg to claim on solemn oath before the Supreme Court of Pakistan that the ISI got involved in the internal politics of the country only after a special cell was created by Prime Minister Bhutto in 1975 is a culpable attempt at concealing the truth and distorting the record of the operations of the military intelligence agencies since independence. The present government has only to report to the Supreme Court that the ISI deals with matters relating to Pakistan's national security and that would be the end of Asghar Khan's writ petition against Aslam Beg. Who will provide a definition of national security to rule out the involvement of the ISI and the MI in domestic politics which is seen as the biggest threat to the security and solidarity of Pakistan?” Published in The Nation 17 August 1997.

Ayub Khan’s eclipse and the rise of Yahya Khan had ushered in a new relationship between the state of Pakistan and its intelligence machineries. Reported to be a hard drinker and given to other pleasures of life Yahya had given long ropes to the armed forces, the IB and the ISI in tackling the burgeoning problem in East Pakistan, which later took the shape of an avalanche. Several Bengali freedom fighters have complained that the intelligence organisations were ruthlessly used on two fronts: hunting down the Bengali nationalists and organising the pro-Pakistani elements into machines of general pogrom. The ISI had organised mixed group of Urdu speaking non-Bengalis and Bengali speaking East Pakistanis into several hundred armed groups and gave them free hands in mass assassination of the Hindus and Muslims sympathetic to the Awami League. Regular West Pakistani soldiers were loaned to these armed bands for exterminating the Bengalis. According to a few surviving freedom fighters the Urdu speaking Muslims and the Pakistan army regulars were responsible for killing over half a million Bengalis in the southern districts of East Pakistan.

Bhutto came to power on the ashes of Pakistan left over by the disastrous developments in East Pakistan, total discredit of the army and near collapse of the administrative machineries. The armed forces as well as the intelligence machineries were extensively used by Z.A. Bhutto to contain tribal insurgency in Balochistan. “The problems of Balochistan were symptoms of Bhutto’s growing authoritarianism. This formed the background to the eventual coup that brought Zia-ul-Haq to power in July 1977.” India and Pakistan. Ian Talbot p. 209.
Bhutto’s use of the ISI, SSG and regular military in quelling Balochistan revolt often far exceeded the atrocities committed by Pakistan army in East Pakistan. Special contingents of the ISI had used helicopter gunship to identify rebellious `tribal villages in remote hill areas and bombed the population to submission.

Bhutto had the unique advantage of witnessing the uneven growth of the ISI and its proximity to the military brass. Its role in Bangladesh was too well known to him. Being a proclaimed democrat and an Islamic socialist he should have curbed the powers of the ISI. Instead, he had strengthened the ISI’s power by assigning the organisation vast political roles. Stanley Wolpert, the US scholar has mentioned in his book Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan: His Life and Times that Bhutto regime had freely utilised the IB and the ISI in domestic political matters. He had used the IB Director M Akram Sheik and Joint Director Muhammad Isa for compiling dossiers on political opponents. Bhutto also extensively exploited the services of General Ghulam Jillani Khan, DG ISI to augment internal political objectives. “At times we were also ordered to bug the telephones of some individuals. Such orders came in writing from the Prime Minister himself. The authority had not been delegated to anyone else. We would compile the report and sent it to the PM with appropriate recommendations to continue or discontinue the watch” Profiles of Intelligence. Brig (retd) Syed A. I. Tirmazi. P 279.

Bhutto was responsible for encouraging the ISI and Brigadier Nasserullah Babbar to formulate Pakistani policies and operational thrusts inside Afghanistan against the regime of Mohammad Daoud and later the communist regimes. Pakistan Afghan policy, at that point of time, was independent from the US policy. The USA was still watching the developments and was embroiled in handling the situation in Iran.

Bhutto’s severest undoing was his alleged act of rigging the March 1977 elections. He had extensively used the IB and the ISI in ‘rigging the election’ and ensuring his overwhelming victory. In a number of cases, the opposition candidates were bullied, harassed and intimidated. Organised violence was unleashed in Sind and Punjab constituencies. The ISI and the IB were also used to widen the differences between the MQM and other political entities. That was the most unfortunate part of political misadventure, which had outraged broad-spectrum public opinion in Pakistan and resulted in the ouster of Bhutto in a military coup.

Bhutto loyalist Lt Gen. Ghulam Jillani Khan, however, had no compunction in betraying the trust of his mentor and collaborating with Zia-ul-Haq, who had replaced Bhutto in a military coup. A Deobandi Islamist and an ardent follower of the Islamist tenets of Wahhabism, Zia had deftly used the ISI and Ghulam Jillani’s successor Lt. Gen. Akhtar Abdul Rahman to establish a stranglehold on Pakistan.

Zia-ul-Haq is credited with a couple of achievements: ending Pakistan’s international isolation and freshly tying the knot of friendship with the USA; embarking on a new Afghan policy; fresh de-politicisation of Pakistan; enhancing sectarian religious conflicts, giving encouragement to ethnic clashes between the Mohajirs and Sindhis, Punjabisation of Pakistani polity and Islamisation of Pakistan. In all these matters, Zia had fully utilised the IB and the ISI machineries. Use of the intelligence apparatuses to fabricate criminal cases against Z. A. Bhutto and his ultimate judicial assassination had added a shameful chapter to Pakistan’s political history. In short, Zia had used the intelligence machineries for exclusively gagging all political activities, except those allowed by him as window dressing.

However, Zia had deftly used the ISI and the SSG in Pakistan’s involvement in the Afghan imbroglio. This episode of the unique achievement of the Inter Services Intelligence would be elaborated in a separate chapter.

Zia-ul-Haq’s death on 17 August 1988 paved the way for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. The army was reluctant to hand over power to Zulfi Bhutto’s daughter. After agonising procrastination, Benazir had to give informal undertaking that she would remain in office but not in power, she would not tamper with the Afghan policy and not interfere with the Establishment.

For a brief period Benazir Bhutto and General Hamid Gul, the ISI chief had differed on Afghan issue. In an interview on May 20, 2000 Benazir revealed, "Sometimes, I went along with ISI proposals although I did not agree with the strength of the argument. For example, I wanted to accept Soviet foreign minister Schevernadze's proposal for the peaceful political solution of Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal, which was due. ISI did not agree, wanting to give the Mujahideen the taste of victory by marching into Kabul as conquerors...However, I did not have the heart to stop them from trying because they were so convinced they could do it and had paid such a heavy price fighting for freedom."

In the same interview, Benazir said she found that many officers, including ambassador rank, wanted to keep on the good side of ISI thinking they were the permanent government and "the PPP a temporary guest." She said that the ambassadors generally respected for having intellectual integrity would report to ISI on an unofficial level and seek briefings from them. They would then argue the ISI line with the Foreign Office.

Benazir also had differed with the Kashmir policy of the ISI. She said in the same interview, "Three crucial changes took place in the Kashmir policy. First, the leadership of All Parties Hurriyat Conference was effectively replaced with Harkat ul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayeba. Second, the arena of conflict was expanded beyond the disputed area. Third, non-military targets, that are civilians, were also included as targets. This has led to a sea shift in the perceptions with regard to the Kashmir dispute.”

She had wanted to put the All Parties Hurriyat Conference back in the centre of the policy. That, she argued, would lead to a peaceful solution of the problem acceptable to India and Pakistan and the international community. Benazir’s views were drastically opposite to the views of the Army and the ISI. General Hamid Gul, the ISI chief and the Army chief General Aslam Beg opposed her. They opposed her alleged attempt to tamper with the national security polices adopted by the Establishment.

It was General Gul, who had cobbled up the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), a coalition of parties, which later replaced Benazir. An expert in the tradecraft of clandestine arming and training of mujahideen, General Gul had not only masterminded the ISI's Afghan saga, he had also helped the military regime to fashion its strategic thrust in the Indian Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. The ISI, under him, had replicated the rogue CIA. With close links with the Jammat-e-Islami General Gul had prompted the ISI to support pro-Jammat groups headed by Hekmatyar.

Benazir, however, after her electoral victory sacked Hamid Gul and inducted Lt.Gen. (Retd) Shamshur Rahman Kallue. This had infuriated the Army Establishment, as the top brass wanted to install a serving ally. An alarm was sounded that Benazir was sure to curtail ISI's internal political clout, as the PPP had suffered immensely during Zia regime, including judicial hanging of her father. She had made an effort, through the Zulfiqar Committee, to curtail ISI's sphere of influence.

Following her contrived dismissal, Maj. General Asad Durrani was appointed chief of the ISI, who served the tenure of the IJI government, a creation of the infamous intelligence organisation and Army. He was followed by Lt.Gen Javed Nasir and later succeeded by Lt.Gen Javed Ashraf Kazi, following dismissal of Nawaz Sharif.

With the induction of General Nasir, an officer of the Corpse of Engineers, the ISI was again embroiled in internal politics and export of terrorism. An Islamic fundamentalist, a member of the Jammat-e-Islam and Tabligh-i-Jammat, the proselytising fraternity, and a Kashmiri to top, Gen. Nasir thrived on anti-Indian brine. He brought in qualitative changes in the ISI's involvement with the Punjab and J&K terrorists and finalising the blueprint of escalation of Islamist Jihad, in the fashion of the Al Qaeda, amongst the vulnerable sections of the Indian Muslims.

His tenure coincided with Benazir's second incarnation, during which, state sponsored terrorism had not only affected Afghanistan and India; it brought in adverse impact on Pak-US and Pak-China relations too. Besides prolonged cross-border terrorism in India, involvement of Pak trained mujahideen of Harkat-ul-Ansar, Harkat-ul-Mujaheedin and Lashkar-e-Tayeba etc outfits in Bosnia, Chechnya, Dagestan, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Southern Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Xinjiang province of China and even on the US soil had peaked by 1992 end. That was the time when the USA tinkered with the threat of declaring Pakistan a terrorist state. General Nasir's removal, after Nawaz Sharif's dismissal, was welcomed in Washington and Beijing. Nawaz Sharif had not made any effort to bridle the rogue ISI. Rather he used the ISI, IB and Ehtasab Bureau to harass his political opponents and even the judiciary. His later day performance reminded discerning Pakistanis the height of arrogant days of Z. A. Bhutto.

Benazir had tinkered with the idea of leashing the intelligence organisations. Besides strengthening the IB, she had appointed an intelligence review committee under Air Chief Marshal Zulfiquar Ali Khan. But before she could take action on this report she was out of office. “I agree to what she says, but cannot condone the fact that a prime minister failed to take corrective measures,” was how the former air force chief Zulfiqar Ali Khan responded in a recent interview.

Benazir Bhutto had appointed Khan to head an Enquiry Commission in 1989 to look into the working of various intelligence agencies including ISI, IB, ASF, and Special Branch of Police and also recommend measures to improve their performance and keep them away from the political arena. In fact, a similar exercise had been done before as well; Yahya Khan did it for Ayub Khan, Rafi Reza for Z.A. Bhutto, and Sahabzada Yakub Khan did it for Zia-ul-Haq. However, the military and political leaders did precious little to rein in the errant intelligence organizations.
The enquiry commission headed by Zulfiqar Ali Khan had found that ISI's extremely good performance in the external sphere was considerably marred by its undue involvement in domestic political affairs. As for the IB, the commission found it in a state of limbo and organisational and functional disarray. The commission, the former air force chief said, had recommended formation of the National Security Council with PM as chairman, and foreign, defence, interior, finance, chairman JCSC, and all services head as members. It also recommended creation of a joint intelligence committee (JIC) with secretaries of all mentioned ministries, IB, ISI chiefs as its members.

As for the role of IB, the commission proposed that its role be restricted to internal security and political matters and externally for counter-intelligence operations.

“We also advised against ISI dealing with internal security matters which should be handled by the IB, with the emphasis that of course normal political activity should not be watched at all,” Zulfiqar Ali Khan said adding that the commission proposed the establishment of a National Intelligence Training Academy, and that selection of the IB chief purely on merit were also part of the recommendations. All these recommendations stemmed from the conclusion that some of the agencies, which of course are an essential part of the security in every state, in certain instances had “gone beyond their mandate.”

Instead of providing information, they assumed the role of policy makers. Interestingly, Benazir Bhutto's revealing interviews have triggered a debate among the characters involved with every one of them trying to justify themselves.

Nevertheless, the ISI was not to be tamed by Benazir. Some reports suggest that in 1989 the ISI had secretly recorded the one to one talks between Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto. The recorded material had reportedly contained agreement between the two leaders to mutually reduce troops. This was probably the last straw. The Army chief General Aslam Beg and President Ghulam Isaq Khan reportedly played the contents of the tape to the opposition leaders and dismissed Benazir

It should be interesting to note that Pakistan had appointed 6 committees to review the functioning of its intelligence agencies:

a) Ayub Khan appointed Lt.Gen. K. M. Sheikh Committee- 1960
b) Ayub Khan appointed Fida Hussain Committee- 1967
c) Yahya Khan appointed G. Ahmed Committee- 1971
d) Z. A. Bhutto appointed Rafi Raza Committee- 1974
e) Zia appointed Sahibzada Yakub Khan Committee- 1981
f) Benazir appointed Zulfiqar Ali Khan Committee- 1989.

Some of these review operations were carried out to strengthen the intelligence edifices and to cater to the domestic political and military needs of the rulers. Z.A.Bhutto and Benazir had tried in vein, and rather a little late in the day, to rein in the powerful ‘third estate’ of the Establishment. By that time, the ISI had transcended the reach of any political government that Pakistan might have intermittently had. In the recent past, Pervez Musharraf has carried out certain cosmetic changes to reassure his fidelity to the USA and to secure his own position.
Ayub Khan’s first review had added new dimensions to the ISI and it was directed to take over the operations in India’s North East. They did not do a bad job.
The 1965 war experiences and internal political turmoil had propelled Ayub Khan to re-examine the loyalty and effectiveness of the ISI. Z. A. Bhutto had tinkered with the ISI well before the ’65 war. Near complete mobilisation of the ISI for monitoring domestic political problems had incapacitated the organisation’s capability to collect and collate cogent and reliable intelligence about Indian preparedness and resolve to face another Pakistani attack, soon after the Kachhchh skirmish. For the first time, the Indian Intelligence Bureau excelled over its Pakistani counterparts, the Joint Intelligence Bureau and the Pak DMI. It is also said that raging rivalry between the ISI and the DMI had resulted in poor intelligence input. We have touched upon some of these points in previous paragraphs.

By 1990, when the PPP government was ousted, interim Prime Minister Jatoi had sanctioned an entire Corp for intelligence work. Now a Lieutenant General and the Directorate of Military Intelligence by a Major General headed the ISI. Even more drastic was the logistical spread of intelligence. Whereas the intelligence had previously been confined to the divisions, they now spread down to the districts and the tehsils (sub districts). Field Intelligence Units under the corps commanders became larger and more influential. Field Intelligence Units (FIU) and Field Intelligence Teams (FIT) were reconstituted. At last count, there were some seven different intelligence organizations right down to the sub district level. All this meant more pay, more administrative costs, more maintenance--and more influence. It also meant that the intelligence now formed hardcore activity of the armed forces and through it, the Army controlled large parts of the country.

In 1990, the ISI backed the first Nawaz Sharif regime. However, Nawaz Sharif and the intelligence fell out when the Prime Minister failed to make General Hameed Gul, the Chief of Army Staff. Nawaz paid for it with the loss of his first regime.

Since that fateful day, the intelligence loyal to the Zia dream, more extended than the past, had been in search of a new political leader. They thought they had found it in President Leghari. He was Oxford educated, came from a tribal family bordering Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh and had connections to Ichra, the seat of the Muslim Brotherhood. He attended meetings of the Tableeghi Jamaat, and was supposed to be docile. However, Leghari disappointed the ISI when he disagreed to defer the 1997 elections. Leghari sealed his fate by insisting to hold the elections. In Pakistan, one cannot survive by disagreeing with the Army and the ISI. One does what they say--or pays. In the meantime, Nawaz was ready to make amends and play the games of the ISI and army. The opposition Pakistan Peoples Party refused to boycott the elections. The mantle of hope once again fell on Nawaz Sharif.
However, Nawaz Sharif never trusted the ISI and sought to make his own base. This had brought in some ingredients of confrontation. However, some of the new ministers sworn in during August had intelligence links. Dr. Attiya Inayatullah, an otherwise fine person, had worked with General Zia and was familiar to his apparatus. Dr. Ghazi could be trusted because of his links to the Zia era. General Javed Asraff Qazi was an old school boy having headed the ISI itself. Colonel Tressler was another good old boy from the Zia days when he served in the Foreign Service. If ISI linked persons dominated the cabinet, so were the ambassadorial postings. General Asad Durrani, Ambassador designate to a Gulf country had been the head of ISI. General Shujaat, posted to a North African country, also had ISI background as the head of ISI’s internal division.

Zia's ghost continued to echo in the corridors of power that Musharraf later took over by ousting Nawaz Sharif after the disastrous Kargil adventure. It was a difficult choice for Musharraf. He wanted to work out a compromise between the jihadi that he was and a General who dreamt of the Turkish Reformer Ataturk. He was surrounded by other Zia favourites. Sharifuddin Pirzada, Zia's law minister was back. Zia's Attorney General Aziz Munshi was back as Attorney General.

To make sure that jihadi programmes remained intact in the frontier province, home to many of the madrasas and bordering Afghanistan, another ISI officer had been made the Governor. He is the likeable General Ifthikar from Kohat. An old Nawaz favourite, another ISI chief, General Javed Nasir headed the lucrative Property Trust. Discreetly handled, this could bring in big sums for extra state activities. Additionally, Musharraf had asked him to look after the Sikh places of worship in Pakistan. It was an act of irony that a former ISI chief was entrusted with the religious affairs of the Sikhs. Other intelligence officers had risen to key positions too. General Gulzar, Corps Commander Tenth Corp, was inducted to the ISI.

The Chief of General Staff had double credentials. He served as a staff officer to General Zia and served in the ISI. General Ghulam Ahmad, Chief of Staff controlling access to General Musharraf, had an intelligence background. Other old hands of the Zia era had been re-inducted, some at plush salaries. One controlled all governmental postings and transfers. Other intelligence officers staffed the National Accountability Bureau or the Investigative cell in the ISI. They determined who should be prosecuted and who should be let off. Moreover, in case the civilian bureaucracy felt the need of the tender ministrations of ISI officers, more intelligence officers were on hand. Even the Inspector General Prisons in Sindh, who had the arduous task of looking after the former Prime Minister's spouse, Asif Ali Zardari, was an ISI officer.

As mentioned earlier Nawaz Sharif had tried his best, in some ways rather tyrannically, to impose his will on the Pakistani system. He had promoted the ISI chief to the rank of a Lt. General. The IB was a suspect in his eyes, being loyal to Benazir. He made efforts to prune its powers. However, he had used the IB extensively to spy on the activities of the MQM. These sordid efforts came to light in December 1990 when some radio transmitters were discovered by MQM MNAs from their rooms. These incidents had widened the gulf between IJI and the MQM leader Altaf Hussain.

The Mohajir Quami Movement, political umbrella of the Muslims who migrated to Pakistan from India had always irritated the post-Liaquat Pakistani leaders. Z. A. Bhutto, a Sindhi aristocrat was suspicious of the Mohajirs. His daughter had initiated the process of widening the gulf between the Mohajirs and the Sindhis. However, the efforts to divide the MQM fructified after Benazir was pushed out of office. The shenanigans had led to differences between Altaf Hussain and his political colleagues and he had expelled 19 MNAs from the party. This was taken advantage of by the ISI, IB and the Corps Commander at Karachi. Some masked Gunmen had killed a few prominent MQM leaders in Karachi during May 1991. These developments finally led to a split in the MQM in August 1991.

Another incident that was attributed to political killing by the intelligence operatives was the suspicious death of General Asif Nawaz Janjua. Police had recorded an FIR against Brigadier (Retd) Imtiaz, Director IB. His wife had complained to the President about her apprehension of her husband being assassinated for political motives. Subsequent enquiries had pointed fingers at the possibility of a political conspiracy behind the dearth of the General.

Nawaz Sharif had used the ISI to investigate some of the questionable financial dealings by Benazir and her husband Asif Zardari. The ISI and the Federal Investigation Agency had pursued the matters doggedly, which had led to trial and incarceration of Zardari and banishment of Benazir from Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif had used the ISI, IB and the MI very deftly with a view to creating an atmosphere of suspicion amongst the intelligence hierarchy. Nevertheless, in Pakistan the ISI often emerges as the real master. To quote Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, leader of the Awami National Party ‘the ISI is the real master of Pakistan. Neither Mr. Nawaz Sharif knows what they are doing, nor did they keep Ms. Benazir Bhutto informed about their activities.’

That the ISI is involved in money laundering for internal and external uses was highlighted by the Mehran Bank incident. The Mehran Bank proved to be the den of political skulduggery, espionage and money laundering with the main objective of influencing the political course in Pakistan in 1990s. Later investigation confirmed that the bank, in collaboration with the ISI influenced politicians to change sides. It indulged in fake loans, kickbacks and bribes etc. The bank’s president Younus Habib was later arrested for siphoning out money from Mehran as well as Habib Bank. The Habib Bank had in the meantime had earned notoriety as the funding conduit of the ISI inside Pakistan as well as in stations abroad. Its relationship with the notorious Bank of Credit and Commerce had also come under international scrutiny for suspected funnelling of fund to terrorist organisations. The Habib Bank was used by the ISI for funding activities of the Indian separatists from its bases in Nepal and Bangladesh.

Pakistan as a nation state is likely to continue under military stranglehold for an indefinite period. Restoration of democracy in Pakistan is a remote mirage. The Armed forces are a major political force in Pakistan. They are not likely to ease grip on the political lives of the nation and they are expected to use the ISI, IB and other intelligence organisations to curb political freedom and to promote Islamic fundamentalism with a view to perpetuating their power bases. Hence, the organisations like the ISI are likely to play vital roles in the future growth of internal political developments and regional and global real politick.

To understand ISI’s internal political role clearly it is necessary to briefly touch on the effects of Islamisation of Pakistan and role played by the intelligence agency in churning out jihadist mujahideens. We have briefly mentioned earlier about the Islamisation process of Pakistan and its impact on internal political evolution of Pakistan. It is alleged that Zia-ul-Haq had turned Pakistan into an Islamic State with a view to perpetuating his personal hegemony on the beleaguered people of the country. It is correct that Zia had promulgated several decrees to give a distinct Islamic character to Pakistan, an Islamist identity, not vastly different from the theological autocracies of the Arabian Peninsula. Some of his ordinances included: Hadood ordinance, Qazaf Ordinance, Zaqat Ordinance, Usher Ordinance, Federal Shariat Court, Ramzan-e-Mubarak Ordinance, Compulsory Arabic News in PTV, Majlis-e-Shora (in place of National Assembly) etc.

However, the essentiality of the Islamic character of Pakistan did not start with Zia. It started way back in late 19th century and culminated in the creation of Pakistan. The movement was spearheaded by the Urdu speaking Muslims of the United Province, Bihar, Bengal, and Maharashtra etc and not the Sindhi, Punjabi and Pushtun speaking Muslims of the present geographical entity called Pakistan. Zia, a Jalandhari Punjabi Muslim, was the first to initiate the steps to link up Pakistan with multinational Islamism, which incidentally coincided with the arrival of another multinational Islamist movement on Pakistani soil; the Al Qaeda al-Sulbah. The two multinational Islamist forces coexisted from 1979 till Musharraf succumbed to US pressure and turned his forces against Osama bin Laden after the Taliban regime was removed. These aspects will be examined in a separate chapter.

The Inter Services Intelligence had aided and abetted the growth of fundamentalism and sectarian strife in Pakistan with a view to churning out huge numbers of jihadists that it required for the killing fields in Afghanistan and in its proxy war against India. Several thousands of these jihadists were also deputed to the Central Asian, European and Russian theatres of Islamic jihad. Internal political atmosphere of Pakistan was vitiated by the growth of several fundamentalist and jihadist organisations. This also weakened the civil society of Pakistan. A vast segment of illiterate and poor Pakistani people had started losing faith in democratic political process. Their despair was exploited by the ISI and the tanzeems encouraged by it. Some of the top Islamist mujahideen tanzeems promoted/generated/ patronised by the ISI are listed below:

1. Jammat-e-Islami.
2. Jammat-ul-Fuqra (established in 1980 by ISI to assist Afghan and Kashmiri Mujahideen).
3. Pasban (a front of the JEI).
4. Hijb-ul-Mujaheedin (trained and funded by Fuqra and associated with al
5. Islami Mahaz.
6. Ikhwan-ul-Mussalmin.
7. Markaz -Al-Dawah-Wal-Irshad.
8. Sipah Sahaba.
9. Muslim Mujahideen.
10. Al Jihad.
11. Jammat Islamiyaa.
12. Harkat-ul-Mujaheedin (reincarnation of Harkat-ul-Ansar).
13. International Justice Group.
14. Jamait-ul-Mujaheedin.
15. Harkat-ul-Ansar.
16. Lashkar-e-Tayeba.
17. Al Faran.
18. Al Badr.
19. Allah Tigers.
20. Jamait-ul-Ulema
21. Jais-e-Mohammad etc.

To this list can be added the armed sectarian organisations (Shia-Sunni), some of which are funded by the ISI, Saudi intelligence and NGOs and Iran. We propose to examine this in a separate chapter.

The list is vast and some of the tanzeems keep of changing name and colour with a view to camouflaging their true colours. Most of these organisations owe allegiance to Wahhabi-Sunni cult of Saudi variety and Deoband-Bareilly-Patna Sharif schools of Islamist theology. Though basically Hanafi by sect the volunteers of these organisations accepted the supremacy of the Salafi pedigree of Osama bin Laden. The ISI and the jihadist Ummah keep on breeding new organisations keeping in view their operational needs in different theatres. The denominations are changed as required by political compulsions of the ruling regime in Pakistan and its domestic and international commitments.

Most of these jihadists have been trained in about 8000 madrasas run by the jihadist mullahs and patronised by umbrella organisations like the Markaz-Al-Dawa-Wal-Irshad, Arab financiers and foreign funds canalised through innumerable NGOs. The ISI works as the main coordinator, on behalf of the Islamist State of Pakistan. The volunteers of the Islamist mujahideen organisations are also drawn from countries like India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippine, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia etc.

Some of the illustrative prominent training bases of these Islamist forces are located at:

1. Islamic University, Peshawar, Pan-Islamic Institute, in the model of Patrice Lumumba Friendship University in the former USSR.
2. Binnori Town Mosque, New Town District, Central Karachi, mainly training the Talibans for Afghanistan and India.
3. Camps located in the suburbs of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. These were destroyed by US bombing.
4. Khunar Valley camps, Afghanistan. Destroyed by US bombing.
5. Badr 1 and Badr 2 camp near Khost, Afghanistan (also used by al Qaeda). Presumed to be destroyed by US bombing.
6. Pabi Camp near Jallozai, Peshawar, Pakistan.
7. Warshak Institute, near Peshawar, Pakistan.
8. Miran Shah camp, near Peshawar, Pakistan.
9. Saada camp, near Peshawar, Pakistan.
10. Muzaffarabad, Jalkot, Biarai, Cherat camps in Pak Occupied Kashmir.
11. Pasrur, Lahore, Kasur, Changa Manga (reportedly scaled down as Punjab thrust has been pushed to the back burner)
12. Muridke camp of the Markaz Al-Dawa-Wal-Irshad and affiliated groups.

This is an illustrative list. Some of these training facilities have either been shut down or camouflaged after the USA moved in a big way following its war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and against Osama bin Laden. However, the camps in Pak Occupied Kashmir (AJK) continue to be functional.

Most of the funds for training the mujahideen can generally be traced to Saudi Arabia, few other Islamic countries and drug money generated by the ISI. Several NGOs, affiliated to the government of Pakistan also funnel in foreign funds generated almost all over the world by Islamic fundamentalist groups. Liberal donations are also raised from the Pakistani civil society in the name of Islamist jihad against jahiliya India, Zionists, and Christian nations, where Muslims are allegedly oppressed. The amount of propaganda literature in support of jihad surpasses the quantity of text books marketed for the impoverished students.

The ISI played definitive role in shaping the growth of internal political ethos of Pakistan. Its ideological interlocking with the mujahideens tanzeems is complicated and it cannot be stated with certainty if president Musharraf will succeed in carrying out a house cleaning operation to distance the ISI from the tanzeems and mujahideens organisations. Pakistan army has used these tanzeems for internal as well as external purposes. He has taken some measures by banning a few tanzeems. But these entities have resurfaced with new names and are operating with immunity. Musharraf has started a programme to regulate the madrasas and have started expelling the foreign students. For a better understanding of these intricate dynamics it is necessary to follow the future course of internal political developments in Pakistan. Internal political evolution of Pakistan will have proportionate impact on the geopolitical and geo-strategic conditions of its neighbouring countries and rapidly growing Islamisation process and jihadist movements amongst the Islamic Ummah.

The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

©2005, The Association Of Retired Senior IPS Officers, All Right Reserved.
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