Introduction to Pakistan and Its Intelligence Agencies
Short Description of Agencies
Pakistan has a complex system of intelligence that includes multiple agencies which work together to support the country’s national security. The group name for these organizations is the Pakistani Intelligence Community. However, all agencies exist as separate entities, operating under their names. Three main organizations can be considered as the foundation of Pakistani intelligence. The first one is the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Formed in 1947, it is the oldest agency established by the country (Cloughley, 2016). It exists under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani government, being supervised by the nations’ Prime Minister. However, it also has an executive who holds the position titled Director-General. IB’s main functions include monitoring persons who actively oppose or endanger the governmental order of the country.
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The second entity consists of three services responsible for different types of Armed Forces. These are Pakistan’s Military, Air, and Naval Intelligence (abbreviated MI, AI, and NI accordingly). These agencies report to their corresponding Chiefs of Staff, a position held by four-rank star generals (Kiessling, 2016). Pakistan Army relies on these three branches of intelligence for all knowledge gathering activities. MI investigates the military capabilities of other nations and locates foreign agents or spies. AI researches the air forces and opportunities of other countries. Finally, NI performs similar duties, collecting and analyzing naval intelligence. All three services are concerned with military activity, employing the nation’s army workers of different levels.
The last but not the least important one is the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), an agency established a year after IB, in 1948 (Cloughley, 2016). Notably, this organization recruits not only military workers that are drawn from the three military branches mentioned above but also the country’s civilians. The name of the agency is based on the fact that it works with data collected from all other entities and employs specialists from other intelligence services.
It responds to the government of Pakistan and reports to its Director-General (Kiessling, 2016). Its primary purpose is to support and guard the state’s interests and maintain national security on all fronts, including all actions inside and outside Pakistan by collecting information pertinent to the country’s safety. The agency is further separated into a variety of bureaus, each having its specific objectives and duties.
Definition of Main Threats
The organizations listed above make up the intelligence system of Pakistan. Their main shared purpose is to identify and investigate the threats to the country’s political interests. Currently, these dangers include Pakistan’s unstable relationship with the U.S., recurring conflicts with India on the territory of Kashmir, the attitude towards the Taliban and international ties with other countries in the Afghanistan war, and other possible dangers connected to the nation’s nuclear proliferation and military decisions. Overall, the scope of conflicts is not limited to the country’s region and spans national borders based on international relations. However, the three main threats and risks mentioned above constitute the main portion of all interests of the federal agencies and will be discussed further in greater detail.
Geopolitical and Historical Review of Pakistan
Pakistan’s full name is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The land’s rich history goes back to ancient times and includes the presence of many important cultures and peoples on the future country’s territory. Its vast resources attracted several large empires and led to many conflicts in the region. For instance, the invasion of the area by Alexander the Great and his Macedonian Army was then followed by some Indian conflicts, Greeks’ interference, and other tribes’ contribution (Jaffrelot, 2004). Thus, the territory was full of different religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, living together. Islam was brought to the region with Arabs who established themselves in the tenth century during the rule of the Ghaznavid dynasty (Jaffrelot, 2004).
Indian governments also had their influence on the territory along with Turkic and Mongol dynasties. Before the British Empire took over the region and turned it into its colony, Pakistan was a part of the Sikh Empire (Jaffrelot, 2004). However, the influence of the British forces was closer to business colonization, as foreign powers were more interested in resources than culture or religious domination. Their rule continued up to the date when Pakistan gained its independence in 1947 (Jaffrelot, 2004).
The road to independence for Pakistan began at the beginning of the twentieth century when the Indian National Congress began to limit Muslims’ opportunities to practice their faith and their rights in general (Jaffrelot, 2004). Thus, the concepts of the faith’s protection started to emerge in the Muslim community in the form of the Muslim League, which eventually led to it developing an idea about gaining recognition and representation as a separate nation. The inter-religious violence further increased the power of nationalist movements that opposed the creation of a united country for people of Muslim and Hindu origins (Jaffrelot, 2004). As a result, in 1947, after the Pakistan Movement continued to gain more recognition and power in the area, the country founded on Islam was established. A day after, India gained independence as well.
The two countries were able to keep their religions, languages, and other cultural difference without the need to create a two-nation system. However, the conflicts based on religious and territorial grounds did not end even after parts of the countries’ populations moved from one state to another based on their beliefs. For instance, the conflict in Punjab, initiated by Pakistan took away countless lives of people from both sides (Jaffrelot, 2004). Thus, several wars between India and Pakistan continued to occur in the twentieth century, the main reason for disagreement being the Kashmir conflict.
The first Indo-Pakistani war happened right after the two countries gained their independence, lasting from 1947 to 1948 (Cloughley, 2016). The second war ensued in 1965, followed by civil war and the third Indo-Pakistani conflict in 1971. The last fight, lost by Pakistan, led to the creation of Bangladesh, a country established on the territory formerly known as East Pakistan. In 1999, a conflict referred to as the Kargil war happened (Jaffrelot, 2004). It can also be considered as part of the countries’ territorial disputes. Other more modern events concerning India, Pakistan, and Kashmir occurred in 2001 and 2008, although their scope was much less substantial than previous conflicts (Cloughley, 2016).
After these conflicts, Pakistan found itself being unstable and leaning on religious rule more than before, following the Sharia law principles. As the country’s most prominent religious group with more than 95 percent of the population is Muslim, this progression is not surprising (Cloughley, 2016). Nevertheless, the official status of Pakistan is a federal parliamentary constitutional republic. The country is led by a Prime Minister and parliament with a ceremonious title of the President also being a part of the system. Pakistan’s constitution has laws that heavily rely on the teachings of the Quran and Islam as a whole.
Currently, Pakistan is a very populous state, being home to approximately 200 million people. This number makes Pakistan the fifth most populous nation in the world. The territory of the country, however, ranks much lower, standing at a total of almost 771.000 km2 (excluding Kashmir). This country is located in South Asia, neighboring India on the Eastern side, Iran on the Southwestern border, Afghanistan on the Western front, and China on a small part of the Northeastern border. It is also connected to the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, which forms a rather long coastline along the southern edge of the state.
Oman and Tajikistan can be considered as neighbors as well, though the first is separated from Pakistan by water and the second one by a narrow line of the territory governed by Afghanistan, called Wakhan Corridor. These countries differ in their political views and relations between each other and the world, making this part of the continent diverse in its alliances and worldviews (“The world factbook,” 2018).
While the country’s area is presented as a specific number in most encyclopedias, it is vital to note that the territory which Pakistan currently occupies cannot be defined affirmatively. The nation’s recurring conflict with India mentioned above creates a piece of land that is not officially controlled by either of the two countries. This region is Kashmir which is located to the North of the country’s main area (“The world factbook,” 2018).
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At the present moment, it is separated almost in half by India and Pakistan, with the first country claiming such Eastern territories as the state of Jammu and Kashmir, while the second country controls the Western part – Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (often shortened to AJK or Azad Kashmir). This conflict defines the northern part of the Pakistani region and creates uncertainty in the geopolitical situation there. The history of wars between the two countries becomes especially noticeable in this situation.
Other neighboring states of Pakistan were or still are engaged in military conflicts as well. Some of these events involve Pakistan as an active participant. For example, the country was a part of the Soviet-Afghan war, combating the presence of the USSR in the area with the help of resources from the U.S. (Cloughley, 2016). Pakistani military forces were also engaged in various peacekeeping missions encouraged by the United Nations.
Its contribution can be explained by the fact that Pakistan’s armed forces are rather developed, being one of the largest militaries and one of the main importers of arms in the world. Thus, its engagement in various conflicts happening in different parts of Asia is understandable. Moreover, geographical location can also show why Pakistan participates in many battles, as it is situated in the region with many religious countries that fought or are still fighting for their recognition and independence.
Purpose of the Study
This study aims to analyze the intelligence system of Pakistan, its internal collaboration, the scope of reach, and preparedness for future and present conflicts. It also attempts to outline main risks for the country, including its ongoing territorial disputes with India in Kashmir, the instability of Afghanistan, and the country’s relationship with the U.S. These risks are investigated to assess the nation’s intelligence agencies and see whether they are prepared to address these issues. Then, some practical solutions are explored using examples of events related to the situation in Pakistan. Finally, a personal opinion about the discussed intelligence system is offered.
Intelligence System Description
Intelligence Bureau (IB)
This organization was created during the same time when Pakistan gained independence (Kiessling, 2016). Thus, it is the oldest agency in the country as a whole and also its first intelligence service. Before these events, the IB was a part of the British Indian Army’s intelligence system established by the British forces (Kiessling, 2016). Their main activities were connected to monitoring Soviet troops and their actions in Afghanistan.
However, as the country separated from India and the British Empire, the agency changed its course. Its purpose as an only intelligence organization was to investigate foreign intelligence opportunities, domestic conflicts, and other local incidents. The first Indo-Pakistani war showed that the national agency was not equipped to respond to disputes adequately, which caused some changes in the system. The initial aim of this service was more targeted at internal affairs, which did not assist the military forces of Pakistan in the war (Kiessling, 2016).
A year later, as the first major conflict between India and Pakistan as separate entities was coming to an end, another agency emerged to focus on external problems. The IB remains active, centering its efforts on the internal affairs of Pakistan. Currently, the IB’s main duties are minor in comparison to the ISI, including intelligence gathering, diplomats’ assessment, and security checks, and other investigatory operations concerning civilians. The process of data collection is completed to pass this information to the main agency, the ISI. Thus, the IB can be called an internal intelligence agency due to its objectives and main focus on the security issues inside Pakistan.
Pakistan Armed Forces (MI, AI, NI)
When speaking about the country’s armed forces intelligence, it is necessary to point out that its services are generally separated into three types: military, aerial, and naval. However, Military Intelligence (MI) can be considered the main agency of the three as it works in collaboration with the other two to construct a comprehensive description of Pakistan’s current geopolitical situation (Kiessling, 2016). Thus, AI and NI can be mentioned briefly as less prominent but highly significant services.
The AI, officially referred to as the Directorate for Air Intelligence, was formed in 1948, following the major restructuring effort of the country’s intelligence system. As is indicated in the name of the organization, its main purpose is to collect and analyze the air intelligence of the nation and the world as a whole, researching through such activities as aerial photography and aircraft acquisition. Moreover, the AI’s scope of investigations has recently been broadened to include drones.
In 2004, Pakistan allowed the U.S. forces to send drones to “Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)” (Watson & Fair, 2015, p. 72). It meant that the American drones were able to fly in Pakistan to monitor and eliminate Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda members on the territory of the country. Pakistan’s president agreed to this deal, ensuring that the U.S. also helps Pakistan to target its most dangerous political enemies.
Pakistan’s government would issue decisions regarding these persons. Thus, AI’s monitoring of the drones’ activity became one of the priorities for the organization. It should, however, be noted, that this drone program depends on both American and Pakistani military forces, leaving civilian workers out of the picture in the process of creating a unified national security system (Fair, 2014). Nevertheless, both Pakistan’s AI and the American agencies responsible for the drone initiative continue their activities and are unlikely to encourage any major changes in this system.
The Directorate for Naval Intelligence officially established later than the other branches currently pursues similar goals of collecting intelligence for the military forces of Pakistan. It is a branch that monitors the situation and the naval intelligence picture of the country. Its collaboration with the Naval Special Service Group (SSG(N)) and Pakistan Marines is also among the primary responsibilities of the agency (Cloughley, 2016). The NI has a variety of educational objectives, instructing the Marines about various intelligence gathering and surveying techniques. Similar to the AI, the NI reports to the MI with its findings.
The main branch, the Directorate for Military Intelligence (MI), was founded in 1948 together with other new structures. It is the agency concerned with gathering knowledge through the Pakistan Army. Unlike the IB or the ISI, it is not a civilian organization, employing only uniformed Army workers. Thus, its main concerns include military-related information, including the country’s capability to respond to conflicts as well as other nations’ military forces and their attitude towards Pakistan. This type of data includes counterespionage efforts and the process of locating anti-state figures and sleeper cells in the local community. Other functions include some basic analysis of the area’s terrain, climate, and other geographic aspects that can assist military forces in their pursuits.
The history of the MI’s activities has several notable events such as the 1958 coup d’état, 1999 Kargil war and a second coup d’état, and some operations against the CPP – Pakistan Communist Party in the 1980s (Cloughley, 2016). All incidents mentioned before were concerned with the preservation of Pakistan’s political power and integrity, one of the main purposes of the country’s intelligence agencies. Thus, it follows the stated objectives, as it is focused on counterinsurgency and counterespionage.
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
The ISI is an external security service established in 1948, following the first Indo-Pakistani conflict. Its collaborative nature unifies all agencies of Pakistan allows it to collect and analyze information from a variety of both internal and external sources. Moreover, it also employs both civilians and members of the military, creating a structure where two areas of research work together.
Currently, this is the main intelligence agency of the country, and other branches and services provide their data to the ISI. It has its headquarters in Islamabad and is guided by a Director-General. The ISI does not answer to any other intelligence agency, making it the most powerful intelligence-gathering entity in Pakistan. Its external focus implies that, unlike the IB, the ISI is mostly concerned with collecting data about international affairs that affect Pakistan. Such security information may include other intelligence organizations, political conflicts, persons of interest, espionage efforts, and other initiatives.
As mentioned above, the agency consists of MI, AI, and NI workers and civilians. The head of the organization is usually a general of the Pakistani Army chosen and appointed by the country’s Prime Minister and the Chief of the Army Staff. This position finds a new candidate every three years, and the designated person reports directly to the Prime Minister (Cloughley, 2016). This agency’s budget, staff, and organizational structure are classified, which means that very little is known about the ISI apart from some general details. For example, there are three main wings in the ISI, each of them having its duties and main focuses.
The first one is the internal wind, which is concerned with domestic affairs – the prevention of terrorism, espionage, and intelligence gathering initiated by other organizations. The second wing is responsible for external events, having a similar range of activities. However, they are targeted at protecting Pakistan’s intelligence from outside the country. Finally, the foreign relations wing is a branch of the ISI that collects information related to diplomacy and Pakistan’s international relations.
While the total number of the ISI’s personnel is not disclosed, some believe that it is one of the biggest intelligence agencies in the world regarding the size of its staff (Cloughley, 2016). However, a precise figure is impossible to find to the lack of transparency of all ISI’s operations. The structure of the agency can be discussed, as it is known that the ISI has multiple departments. First of all, the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) is the biggest part of the ISI, employing more than half of all personnel in the organization (Kiessling, 2016). Its main responsibilities are related to collecting intelligence that advocates against the country’s government. Thus, it is concerned with terrorism, Indo-Pakistani relations, and the security of political figures.
The second department in the organization is the Joint Intelligence X (JIX) which acts as a place for information coordination and presentation. The JIX staff work as secretaries, preparing gathered information in the form of reports and assessments. The third is the Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (JCIB). According to its name, it is focused on counterintelligence efforts, especially about the conflict with India (Kiessling, 2016). Similarly, the Joint Intelligence North (JIN) is interested in investigating the region of Jammu and Kashmir and other territories over which the two countries are locked in a continuous dispute.
Other departments are the Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM) which is responsible for offensive operations and espionage, Joint Intelligence Technical (JIT) – the branch concerned with technological advancements and scientific discoveries to advance the intelligence-gathering process, and Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau (JSIB) that monitors communications and intercepts various signals from other countries. One can also include the force called Covert Action Division (CAD) into the structure of the ISI, although it does not exist as one of the agency’s official departments. It is linked to collecting information in areas where conflict situations are very tense (Kiessling, 2016).
Main Risks and Readiness of Respond
Historically, the relations between Pakistan and India can be considered as the most unstable and tense for both countries. As mentioned above, both nations were formed based on their religious beliefs, creating a conflict that is rooted in cultural differences and mutual misunderstandings. Thus, the unchanging state of such negative relations has an explanation. The territorial disputes are based on the same reason as India and Pakistan were united as a colony of the British Empire at one point (Cheema, 2015). Thus, their separation resulted in wars over some territories, and uncertainty in borders exists to this day.
The conflict in Kashmir, for instance, is the central focus of both Pakistani and Indian forces, as its region is continuously redistributed between the two states. The current separation divides Kashmir almost in half, with some areas claimed by India and others by Pakistan. The toughest fighting instances about Kashmir happened right after the countries gained their independence, although some small confrontations have occurred as recently as two years ago.
Interestingly, the origins of the conflict are not based on the territory’s economic or geopolitical importance. Kashmir became the subject of disputes during the religious separating of nations, where India has advocated for national secularism and wanted to include the Muslim region to prove that two communities can flourish in a state largely dominated by Hindu (Cheema, 2015). On the other hand, Pakistan wanted to absorb Kashmir into its territory, as its population and historical significance made it an Islamic region.
Thus, Kashmir, having a Muslim majority, was interesting to both countries because of its religious and cultural origins. India was also concerned with proving that it is not a Hindu state that disregards secularism and cannot live peacefully with multiple major religions having autonomy. Some early anxieties also included the fear of other regions wanting to succeed from the country, but they did not hold the same level of significance to the government as the need to show secularism (Cheema, 2015). Pakistan’s argument is based on the fact that two countries separated because of their religions, making Kashmir a place for Muslims and, thus, belonging to a Muslim state.
Analyzing the problem and its major historical events, one can see that no country has more control over the area than another one. Thus, they continue to spend money and resources and lose people over this dispute. There is no lasting strategic advantage achieved by either of the nations. The responses of Pakistan to previous wars show that the country’s policies and strategy have changed over the years. The creation of the ISI was a direct response to the failure of Pakistan to secure the territory in the first war.
Thus, its readiness to respond to such conflicts increased with time. Future disputes between India and Pakistan may end differently, as the latter is prepared to address the problem with its structured organization and a clear focus of multiple agencies on Kashmir. However, its aggressive approach may be offset by the global view of the dispute with does not support such tactics as Jihad in India. Other conflicts discussed below may also leave the country’s armed forces unprepared.
Afghanistan and Terrorism in Pakistan
During the war between the USSR and Afghanistan, Pakistan supported the latter and provided their Taliban troops with help and training to remove the Soviet army from the region. Thus, Pakistan’s history with the Taliban was friendly, and the Soviet forces have been virtually declared the enemies of Islam (Khan & Wei, 2016). The collaboration between Pakistan and the U.S. and the support of other countries resulted in USSR being defeated in this war.
However, these actions led to the radicalization of Islam in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well, creating a problem of a different scale. The jihadi forces that remained uncontrolled in the region were left untouched by the international troops, and Pakistan had to deal with the war’s consequences (Khan & Wei, 2016). Therefore, the influence of these individuals overcome the region and changed the perception of Islam for many people. Further conflicts aimed towards gaining more power over the area’s resources led to the establishment of the Taliban and the rising tension between them and other people living in Afghanistan.
A similar process of radicalization affected Pakistan, which has started to accept Sharia law into its official systems. The consequences of the war on terror further influenced this problem. For example, the drone initiative mentioned above was started as a part of the agreement between the US and Pakistan against Taliban and Al Qaeda (Khan & Wei, 2016). Currently, Pakistan employs a policy that aims to eliminate the threat of Taliban and affiliated militants in the FATA region. It is possible that this problem can weaken Pakistan’s efforts in targeting Indian troops in Kashmir. However, the growing internal security issues may shift the priorities of the ISI and other agencies towards dealing with terrorism.
Readiness for Certain Challenges
The major problems mentioned above also led to several politically ‘charged challenges for Pakistan. The attitude towards India and Kashmir, for instance, led to the disapproval of Pakistani strategies by the world organizations, leaving Pakistan in an unstable state of foreign relations (Cheema, 2015). Furthermore, its fight against Taliban has created some tensions with the U.S. based on the latter’s invasive techniques such as the drone initiative (Abbas & Javaid, 2017).
Thus, the countries’ extensive collaboration may lead to some unfavorable outcomes for Pakistan. The intelligence system of the country may be unprepared to deal with all problems at once, which may lead to Pakistan suffering from weakened protective efforts against terrorism and Indian forces. The progress against terrorism was marred by the fact that the country was accused of supporting some Taliban movements while opposing the others (Khan & Wei, 2016). This shows that the intelligence system of Pakistan may be unequipped to balance the eradication of targeted threats and maintenance of foreign relations.
Case Analysis: Practical Solutions
The historical overview of previous decisions made by the country and the outcomes of its efforts can yield some possible solutions to overcome current problems in the region. First of all, the Indo-Pakistani conflict may progress in three ways. First, Pakistan can wait for a new opportunity to engage in a confrontation with Indian forces to regain control of the region. This strategy may result in the opposing side also gaining more resources and capabilities to sustain the attack. Thus, it is uncertain whether this decision is stable enough, but it provides the country with time to address its internal problems and bring more stability to local affairs while investigating the weaknesses of the other state. Another adverse outcome is the possible negative reaction of international agencies.
Another variant that may lead to massive losses and objections is the concentration of efforts on jihad in India. This is not a practical solution based on global concepts and the fear of further radicalization of Pakistan. Finally, a peaceful approach with negotiations can be proposed for both India and Pakistan. While this strategy may result in Pakistan losing some territories and changing some policies, it is potentially bloodless and financially beneficial, allowing Pakistan to concentrate on other problems.
Another part of the cases concerns terrorism and Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban. Here, all practical solutions should be targeted against terrorism as it is a problem that involves the country both from the inside and outside. Previous cases show that ineffective resistance to terrorism, presented in the case of Afghanistan, may lead to significant damages to the country’s population, economy, and cultural integrity (Abbas & Javaid, 2017). Thus, the continuation of initiatives against terrorism should be supported by the intelligence structures. The vision of Islam upheld by the country should be separated from the terrorist notions that are not concerned with civilian lives. Intelligence agencies and the ISI, in particular, should focus more attention on the issue of radicalization.
In my opinion, the changes that happened to the intelligence system of Pakistan after its inability to assume control of the territory in the first Indo-Pakistani war led to the development of a robust structure. Similar to the country itself, its agencies are strongly dependent on religion, which provides their personnel a clear motivation and results in workers united by one purpose. The possible lack of funds for the agencies may decrease their effectiveness as opposed to such countries as the U.S. However, Pakistan’s active participation in conflicts shows that the agencies are giving much attention to the internal and external affairs in the region and the world.
The current problems that concern the country may lead to adverse results in Pakistan continues to pursue only offensive options, because the country’s recourses will be stretched thin. In conclusion, the intelligence system of Pakistan is currently unable to respond to all crises of the state fully, but its structure can provide better results if the country chooses a narrower focus and makes some political sacrifices.
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