Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate : Covert Action and Internal Operations book cover
1st Edition

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate
Covert Action and Internal Operations

ISBN 9781315559711
Published July 1, 2016 by Routledge
328 Pages

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Book Description

This book is the first comprehensive study of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI).

The rise of Pakistan-backed religious extremist groups in Afghanistan, India, and Central Asia has focused international attention on Pakistan’s premier intelligence organization and covert action advocate, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate or ISI. While ISI is regarded as one of the most powerful government agencies in Pakistan today, surprisingly little has been written about it from an academic perspective. This book addresses critical gaps in our understanding of this agency, including its domestic security mission, covert backing of the Afghan Taliban, and its links to al-Qa’ida. Using primary source materials, including declassified intelligence and diplomatic reporting, press reports and memoirs, this book explores how ISI was transformed from a small, negligible counter intelligence outfit of the late-1940s into the national security behemoth of today with extensive responsibilities in domestic security, political interference and covert action. This study concludes that reforming or even eliminating ISI will be fundamental if Pakistan is to successfully transition from an army-run, national security state to a stable, democratic society that enjoys peaceful relations with its neighbours.

This book will be of interest to students of intelligence studies, South Asian politics, foreign policy and international security in general.

Table of Contents


PART I: ISI’s Early Days

1. ISI’s origins

2. ISI and Anglo-American intelligence

3. Covert action in northeast India

4. Intelligence and the 1965 War


5. ISI’s domestic missions under Ayub

6. Intelligence failures in East Pakistan

7. Intelligence and the 1971 war

8. ISI under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

Part III: Overreach

9. Zia ul-Haq, Afghanistan, and ISI

10. ISI’s Afghanistan war

Part IV: Adrift

11. Intelligence and democracy: 1988-1999

12. Insurgency in Kashmir and Punjab

13. Escalating tensions with India

14. Pakistan’s Afghan quagmire

15. ISI and Osama bin Laden

PART V: Confrontation

16. Intelligence and nuclear weapons in South Asia

17. ISI-CIA liaison after 9/11

18. Friction in ISI-CIA relations

19. ISI’s internal security missions

20. US operations in Pakistan

21. ISI and the demise of bin Laden


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Owen L. Sirrs is Adjunct Professor at the University of Montana, USA, and the author of two previous books, including, most recently, The Egyptian Intelligence Service (Routledge 2011).


"The book has some interesting material... By pulling together the main features of the story, this book represents a useful resource for scholars"

Teresita C. Schaffer, Survival