The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan

25 May, 1999    ·   191

Maj Gen Ashok Krishna, AVSM (Retd) highlights how the success of the peace process between India and Pakistan depends to a very large extent depend on the ability of Pakistani politicians to rein in the Pak Army and hence, the ISI; and equally, on how effectively India defeats their plans in J & K and in other parts of India.

When infiltration occurs in Jammu and Kashmir [J &K], or bomb blasts are reported in Delhi . Mumbai or Coimbatore , or any where else in India , government organisations and the media point a  finger  of suspicion at  Pakistan ’s ISI. India has indeed been the prime target of this organisation’s external activities. It is, therefore, essential to comprehend the aims and  manner of functioning of the ISI to see how it  threatens the security of India .



The ISI is headed by a Director General [DG]  of the rank of Lt Gen / Maj Gen; he has hitherto been a serving officer seconded from the Army. The ISI    coordinates the functioning of the intelligence directorates of the armed forces and is the sole organisation for collection of military and external intelligence. The DG,  although under the Ministry of Defence, is also the adviser to the Prime Minister on intelligence matters., The DG being the Army Chief’s man only disseminates what the Army Chief wants the politicians to know. The Army Chief  draws his power  from the Army, which has the final say in Pakistan on matters of national security; any political interference or opposition is not countenanced.The plans of the ISI  are really the plans of the Pak Army.The ISI , is therefore, an organ of the Army, not an organ of the state.



The ISI  combines in itself all the  functions carried out in India by the Research and Analysis Wing, the Intelligence Bureau, the Special Intelligence Bureau, the Central Bureau for Investigation, the various specialist agencies under the Home Ministry, the Intelligence Directorates of the armed forces and para military forces, and the Joint Intelligence Committee.



The ISI  has been working towards the dismemberment of India ever since the time of its raising in 1949. Pakistan is not comfortable with an India seven times its size and would like India’s northern , eastern, and southern wings to be severed  , so that, what remains of India approximates  Pakistan’s size.Prior to 1971 the ISI aided and abetted insurgencies in Eastern India and, in  the post 1971 period it enlarged its activities to encompass Punjab and J & K  and later Tamilnadu.



Kashmir and its annexation or liberation would continue to be the prime objective of the Pak Army and hence the basic aim of the ISI. Pakistan would not be happy with an independent Kashmir as it could be under the sway of other countries.The  origin of the current wave of terrorism in J & K can thus be traced to the loss of Siachen in 1984 and the Movement for the Restoration of  Democracy [MRD]  in Pakistan directed against Gen  Zia-ul-Haq’s  military dictatorship. To divert attention from this military setback and domestic problems, the military regime chalked out a strategy to create trouble in Punjab and J & K.



The ISI spends nearly Rs 100 crores every year to run its proxy war in J & K. Each militant is  paid between Rs 2000 to Rs 3000 per month depending upon his experience and  status in the terrorist outfit. In case a militant dies in action, his or her family gets a compensation ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000. ISI agents active in Kashmir receive between Rs 50,000 to Rs one lakh a month as emoluments. They are accorded five star facilities during their visits to Rawalpindi . Some Islamic organisations are  also funding the militants in J & K.



About 30 militant training camps are running in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir [POK]. These camps are controlled from headquarters in Muzaffarabad and Kotli. The ISI  is assisted in its activities by the Harkat-ul-Ansar [HUA] –a group declared to be terrorist by the US State Department in 1997. The HUA has close links with Osama bin Laden, the dissident Saudi millionaire blamed for the bombing of two US embassies in Africa in 1998. The HUA’s two militias – Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the more extreme Harkat-ul-Jehad – provide shelter , food and clothing for the trainees at these camps, while the ISI provides weapons, ammunition and transport, along with specialist instructors for training.The ISI has been training Afghan Mujahideen, Kashmiris and Punjabis from Pakistan at these camps.The fanatic trait of the trainees is evident from the fact that they are now seeking to change the basic ideology in Kashmir- from azadi [freedom] to jehad [ Islamic uprising].



Hired soldiers from several countries : Iran , Yemen , Checheny, Kazakastan,Sudan , Bahrain , Turkey , Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan , have also been employed by Pakistan in J & K. They are paid much more than those recruited from J & K, POK  or Pakistan . Pak Army personnel disguised as militants or civilians, apart from aiding infiltration, are also operating in J & K for collecting intelligence about Indian Army and Indian Air Force  movements, identifying targets for attack in case of war, and directing artillery fire on Indian locations from vantage points.



Elsewhere in India, the ISI offers monetary rewards , sex, and other attractions to  cultivate agents.One of their tactics is to form cells near military cantonments.Using its old contacts in Bangladesh, reportedly with some co-operation from the Bangladesh Intelligence services, the ISI has activated its networks, and established contact with every insurgent group in the North Eastern region and in Assam. It is also using Nepal for opening new areas to infiltrate and exfiltrate agents and material into Eastern India .



The success of the peace process between India and Pakistan depends to a very large extent  depend on the ability of Pakistani politicians to rein in the Pak Army and hence, the ISI;  and equally, on how effectively India defeats their plans in J & K and in other parts of India .