The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (also Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI) is the largest intelligence service in Pakistan. It is one of the three main branches of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.


After independence in 1947, two intelligence agencies were created in Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI). However, the weak performance of the MI in sharing intelligence between the Army, Navy and Air Force during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 led to the creation of the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1948.

The ISI was structured to be attended by officers from the three major uniformed services, and specialize in the collection, analysis and assessment of external intelligence, either military or nonmilitary. The ISI was the brainchild of Australian-born British army officer, Major General R. Cawthome, then deputy chief of Pakistan Army. Initially, the ISI had no role in domestic intelligence gathering, with the exception of North West Frontier Province and Azad Kashmir.

In late 1950, when Ayub Khan became the president of Pakistan, expanded the role of ISI in the control of opposition politicians, and sustaining military rule in Pakistan. The ISI was reorganized in 1966 after intelligence failures in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and expanded in 1969. Khan entrusted the ISI with the responsibility for the collection ofinternal political intelligence in East Pakistan. Later, during the nationalist revolt in Balochistan in the mid-1970s, the ISI was assigned to perform a similar gathering.

The ISI has lost its importance during the regime of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was very critical of his role during the 1970 general elections, which triggered the events that led to the partition of Pakistan and the emergence of Bangladesh.

After General Zia ul-Haq seized power in July 1977, the ISI was expanded and it is responsible for collecting intelligence on the basis of Communist Party of Pakistan Sindh and several political parties like the Pakistan People’s Party ( PPP).

The Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s saw the improvement of the covert action capabilities of the ISI by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A special section was set up in Afghanistan under the command of Colonel Mohammed Yousaf to oversee the coordination of the war. A number of officers of the Division of Covert Action ISI trained in the U.S. and many covert action experts of the CIA were attached to the ISI to guide their operations against the Soviet troops by using the Afghan Mujaheddin.

ISI is one of the best and well-organized intelligence service in the world. It was founded in 1948. In 1950 he officially gave the task to guard the interests of Pakistan’s security and national security within and beyond the scope primary country.Its not only to safeguard the interests of Pakistan but also reinforcing the base to Pakistan in the region.

The ISI is tasked with gathering foreign intelligence and national coordination of intelligence functions of the three military services, the watch on his table, the foreign media, politically active segments of Pakistani society, the foreign diplomats accredited to Pakistan and Pakistani diplomats serving outside the country, the interception and monitoring of communications, and conducting offensive operations and covert war. ISI functions include the collection of foreign intelligence and national intelligence synchronization of the military. The agency maintains surveillance of foreign diplomats in Pakistan, Pakistani diplomats abroad, and politically active members of Pakistani society. It monitors its own staff, the media and foreigners. It monitors and intercepts of communications and covert operations is devoted to the offensive.

ISI is headquartered in Islamabad and operates under a Director General, a service of Lieutenant-General of Pakistan Army. There are three Assistant Directors General appointed Deputy Director General (Policy), Deputy Director General (External) and DDG (General). The ISI is mainly composed of seconded personnel from the police, paramilitary forces and some specialized units of the Army. There are over 25,000 active men of his staff. This figure does not include informants and assets. It is organized into six to eight divisions.

ISI Key Objectives are:

  1. Safeguard Pakistani interests and national security inside and outside the country
  2. Monitor the political and military developments in adjoining countries, which have direct bearing on Pakistan’s national security and in the formulation of its foreign policy and to collect foreign and domestic intelligence in such cases
  3. Co-ordination of intelligence functions of the three military services
  4. Keep vigilant surveillance over its cadres, foreigners, the media, politically active segments of Pakistani society, diplomats of other countries accredited to Pakistan and Pakistani diplomats serving abroad

How ISI Operates

ISI’s headquarters are located in Islamabad and currently the head of the ISI is called the Director General who has to be a serving Lieutenant General in the Pakistan Army. Under the Director General, three Deputy Director Generals report directly to him and are in charge in three separate fields of the ISI which are Internal wing – dealing with counter-intelligence and political issues inside Pakistan, External wing – handling external issues, and Analysis and Foreign Relations wing.
The general staff of the ISI mainly come from paramilitary forces and some specialized units from the Pakistan Army such as the some chosen people from special services group(SSG) . While the total number has never been made public, experts estimate about 10,000 officers and staff members, which does not include informants and assets.

Joint Intelligence X: JIX

It serves as the secretariat which co-ordinates and provides administrative support to the other ISI wings and field organizations. It also prepares intelligence estimates and threat assessments.It provides administrative support to the other major divisions and regional organizations of the ISI.

Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB)

One of the largest and most powerful divisions of the ISI, monitors political intelligence.The JIB consists of three subsections, with one subsection devoted to operations involving India, other operations involve, anti-terrorism and VIP security.

Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (JCIB)

Responsible for oversees intelligence operations in Central Asia South Asia, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Israel and Russia also responsible for field surveillance of Pakistani diplomats stationed abroad, if need be monitoring foreign diplomats as well .

Joint Intelligence/North (JIN)

Conduct ISI operations for Jammu and Kashmir , including monitoring Indian forces deployed within disputed Kashmir forcefully held by India.

Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM)

Responsible for covert offensive intelligence operations and war time espionage.

Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau (JSIB)

It includes Deputy Directors for Wireless, Monitoring and Photos, operates a chain of signals intelligence collection stations, and provide communication support to its operatives. It aslo collects Intelligence through monitoring of communications channels of neighboring countries.It has a chain of stations that track and collect intelligence signals along the Indo-Pakistani border, and it provides communications assistance for freedom campaigns in Kashmir.
A sizeable number of the staff is from the Army Signal Corps. It is believed that it has its units deployed in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.

Joint Intelligence Technical (JIT)

Not much is know about this section however it is believed that JIT include a separate explosives section and a chemical warfare section.

The ISI maintains one more primary sections in addition to the seven outlined above that is the Joint Intelligence Technical division.

At first, the ISI focused primarily on domestic espionage, such as tapping telephone conversations and monitoring internal political affairs. Because of its narrow scope, it was reportedly unable to locate an Indian armored division during the Indo-Pakistani War in 1965. When the war was over, Ayub appointed General Yahya Khan to chair a committee to evaluate the ISI and its subdivisions . From 1983 to 1997, the ISI reportedly trained over 80,000 Afghan Mujahideen for campaigns in Afghanistan. During the 1990s, the ISI grew into a powerful and questionable organization. It is said to function as an invisible government and is frequently called a state within a state.On September 2001, President Musharraf appointed a new Director General for ISI, Lieutenant General Ehsanul Haq


  1. Major General R. Cawthome. 1948-1956
  2. Brig Riaz Hussain. 1959 – 1966
  3. Maj Gen (then Brig) Mohammad Akbar Khan. 1966 – 1971
  4. Lt Gen (then Maj Gen) Ghulam Jilani Khan. 1971 – 1978
  5. Lt Gen Muhammad Riaz. 1978 – 1980
  6. Lt Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman. 1980 – March 1987
  7. Lt Gen Hamid Gul. March 1987 – May 1989
  8. Lt Gen (retd) Shamsur Rahman Kallu. May 1989 – August 1990
  9. Lt Gen Asad Durrani. August 1990 – March 1992
  10. Lt Gen Javed Nasir. March 1992 – May 1993
  11. Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi. May 1993 – 1995
  12. Lt Gen (then Maj Gen) Naseem Rana. 1995 – October 1998
  13. Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt . October 1998 – October 1999
  14. Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed. October 1999 – October 2001
  15. Lt Gen Ehsan ul Haq. October 2001 – October 2004
  16. Lt Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. October 2004 – October 2007
  17. Lt Gen Nadeem Taj. October 2007 – October 2008
  18. Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha. October 2008–Present
DECEMBER 27, 2013

About Ehsan Abdullah

An aware citizen..
This entry was posted in CHALLENGES, CURRENT ISSUES, DEFENCE & SECURITY, FOREIGN RELATIONS & POLICY. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. crimes of I.S.i on Baluch Nation are not going un notice?


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