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Published:January 28th, 2013 13:14 EST
SOP  Intelligence Profile: Pakistan and the ISI

SOP Intelligence Profile: Pakistan and the ISI

By SOP newswire2

The separation in 1947 of British India into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with two sections West and East) and largely Hindu India was never satisfactorily resolved. A third war between these countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan seceding and becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. A dispute over the state of Kashmir is ongoing. In response to Indian nuclear weapons testing, Pakistan conducted its own tests in 1998. The Kashmir dispute is now again threatening the "peace" between the two nations.


Pakistan is located between Iran and Afghanistan on the west and India on the east and China in the north.

The official name of the country is Islamic Republic of Pakistan - "Pakistan" in short.

Pakistan is a federal republic with capital Islamabad.

Administrative divisions

4 provinces (Balochistan, North-West Frontier Province, Punjab, Sindh), 1 territory (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and 1 capital territory (Islamabad Capital Territory).

Note: the Pakistani-administered portion of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region includes Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas.

Military branches

Army, Navy, Air Force, Civil Armed Forces, National Guard.

Intelligence and Security

  • Ministry of Interior

  • Federal Investigation Authority (FIA)

  • Narcotics Control Division

  • Intelligence Bureau (IB)

  • Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

  • Directorate of Inter-Services Public Relations

  • Military Intelligence (MI)

From 1958 to 1970, the USA maintained one of the largest SIGINT stations in the world at Bada Bier in Pakistan. The base was located on a strategic place near Afghanistan and only 240 km from the Soviet border. Ideal to eavesdrop on Soviet and Chinese communications. In the early 1980`s the USA was permitted to re-establish the Bada Bier station. The US needed a new facility because they had to abandon the Iran facility in 1979 and reportedly moved back to Bada Bier. The station was now useful to monitor the Soviet/Afghan war.

Russian SIGINT posts were (still are?) established in the Russian consulate in Karachi and the embassy in Islamabad.

Ministry of Interior

The Ministry of Interior is responsible for two agencies: the Federal Investigative Agency and the Narcotics Control Division. In addition to these agencies, the government has control over a number of specialized police forces and paramilitary organisations:

National guard

The National Guard has the following branches: Janbaz Force, Mujahid Force, National Cadet Corps and the Women Guards

Frontier corps

The Frontier Corps are subordinate to the Ministry of Interior.

Pakistan rangers

Pakistan Rangers are also subordinate to the Ministry of Interior.

Other organisations

  • Anti-corruption Task Force

  • Railroad and Airport Police Forces

  • Maritime Security Agency

  • Coast Guard

Federal investigative agency (FIA)

The duties of the security forces in the British days were mainly the maintenance of law and order, not very different from their current duties.

The FIA reportedly has contacts with the Israeli Mossad to investigate Islamist terrorists. In the past the agency clashed with the ISI when the FIA launched a secret war against the Islamists.

Narcotics control division (NCD)

The Narcotics Control Division was formed in April, 1989. Prior to that date, the Ministry of Interior and the PNCB -Pakistan Narcotics Control Board- handled these matters.

PNCB and the ANTF -Anti Narcotics Task Force- are the two main branches of the NCD, where PNCB is in charge of the coordinating, controlling and supervisory functions, and the ANTF investigates everything that has to do with drugs (smuggling, production, transportation, etc, etc.)

Intelligence bureau (IB)

IB is one of the most important security agencies in Pakistan that reports directly to the Prime Minister`s office. The agency is mainly focussed on domestic political activities. It monitors politicians, political activists, suspected terrorists, and suspected foreign intelligence agents and politicians.

Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

Together with the Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence, ISI is one of the main intelligence agencies of Pakistan. It was founded in 1948 and is charged with safeguarding Pakistan`s interests, monitoring opposition politicians, and sustaining military rule in Pakistan.

The ISI is a very powerful agency that reportedly answers to nobody; not to the government and not to the military. According to various sources no-one seems to be in total control over the ISI. Their actions are often dubious; rumor has it that the war in Kashmir is financed with drugs money generated by the ISI.

The tasks of the ISI include:

  • SIGINT activities.

  • collection of intelligence, both domestic and international.

  • surveillance of foreigners, embassy and consulate personnel in Pakistan and Pakistani diplomats in other countries.

The ISI has a number of divisions, including:

  • Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (JCIB). JCIB is responsible for surveillance of Pakistani diplomats abroad, as well as for conducting intelligence operations in the Middle East, Afghanistan, South Asia, China and the Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union.

  • Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM) conducts espionage and covert activities in foreign countries.

  • Joint Intelligence X (JIX) is the administrative division of the ISI.

  • Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB). This division is responsible for political intelligence.

  • Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau (JSIB) operates a chain of SIGINT collection stations along the border with India, and provides communication support to militants operating in Kashmir.

  • Joint Intelligence North (JIN) is responsible for operations in Jammu, Kashmir and Afghanistan.

  • Joint Intelligence Technical (JIT) is tasked with the collection of technical intelligence.

Like the ISPR, the ISI is also affiliated with the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. This committee deals with the military aspects of state security.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the CIA provided ISI a large quantity of espionage equipment and information. Throughout the years of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and recently during the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, governmental relations between the USA and Pakistan were close, although forces within the ISI sided with Al Qaida and supplied them with weapons and information. Not surprising of course as the ISI supported the Taliban and trained some 83,000 Afghan Mujahideen warriors during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Now they support Kashmiri Mujahideen in their fight against the Indian authorities in Kashmir. The ISI is not only involved in the politics in Kashmir and Afghanistan, but also plays an important role in domestic politics. It is widely believed that the 1990 elections were fixed by the ISI.

Like Al Qaida, the ISI is reported to operate training camps where terrorist groups, separatist or freedom fighters (or whatever they like to call themselves) are trained. The following groups are mentioned in this respect:

  • Liberation Tigers

  • United Liberation Front Of Seven Sisters [ULFOSS]

  • National Security Council of Nagaland [NSCN]

  • People`s Liberation Army [PLA]

  • United Liberation Front of Assam [ULFA]

  • North East Students Organisation [NESO]

Office of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR)

The ISPR controls and coordinates the release of military news and access to military sources. The agency censors the news coverage with regards to the armed forces, intelligence and certain political sensitive matters.

Military intelligence (MI)

MI`s activities include operations in Sindh against the Indian intelligence operatives. This organization also monitors the activities of the leaders of political opposition groups.

A wide variety of internet/radio/tv/newspaper sources including the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), CIA World Factbook, "Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) in South Asia" by Desmond Ball, Library of Congress (Area Handbook).