Pakistani Intelligence community

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The state emblem of Islamic Republic of Pakistan

The Pakistani intelligence community (Urdu: جمیعت ہائے پاکستان برائے اشتراکِ سراغرسانی) comprises the various intelligence agencies of Pakistan that work internally and externally to manage, research and collect intelligence necessary for national security.[1] Consolidated intelligence organizations include the personnel and members of the intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis directorates operationalized under the executive ministries of the government of Pakistan.[2]

A number of intelligences services are active working on varied intelligence programs including the collection and production of foreign and domestic intelligence, contribute to military planning, and perform espionage.[3] The best known intelligence services are the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Military Intelligence (MI) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).[4]


There are no fixed or official name for the intelligences services of Pakistan as one cooperative federation; all intelligence services operated under their name.[4] Intelligence authors and researchers termed Pakistan's intelligence services as "Pakistan Intelligence Community"[1] or goes by "Pakistan Intelligence Services and Agencies".[citation needed] The term "Intelligence Community" was first described by the English language newspapers, Frontier Post and Dawn in 1994.[citation needed]

Pakistan subsequently made changes in foreign policy after accepting the United States offer of the military assistance and economic aid in return for joining the political alliance system to contain the international communism in 1953.[citation needed] In a secret understanding between President Zia-ul-Haq and President Ronald Reagan, the US Intelligence Community provided a large quantity of espionage equipment, technical information, and intelligence offensive training to the Pakistan Intelligence Community.[citation needed] Initially, the Pakistan Intelligence Community was trained along in British lines, but subsequently CIA trained 200 ISI officers, Pakistan consolidated its intelligence circle under one chain of command and improved its intelligence methods.[citation needed]

Overview of Intelligence Services[edit]

National Intelligence Coordination Committee[edit]

Established in November 2020, the coordination body created to enhance the coordination and capabilities of Pakistan's intelligence agencies. The organization was inaugurated June 24, 2021.[5]

Inter-Services Intelligence[edit]

Established in 1948 by Major-General Robert Cawthome, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (more commonly known as Inter-Services Intelligence or simply by its initials ISI) is the most premier and largest intelligence service.[6] Primary roles are to consolidate and assess intelligence to senior government and military officials. Intelligence agents are civilians and military officials working together on national security matters.[6] The ISI has been headed by a serving three-star general of the Pakistan Army, who is appointed by the Prime Minister on recommendation of the Chief of Army Staff.[6]

Intelligence Bureau[edit]

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is an espionage and intelligence cycle management efforts civilian intelligence service.[citation needed] IB is Pakistan's oldest intelligence agency. It is directly under the Prime Minister. Its primary role is to build initiatives, including counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence management.[citation needed] Its Director-General is appointed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan from the civil or the retired officials from the military intelligence services.[citation needed]

Federal Investigation Agency[edit]

Established in 1947 as "Special Police Establishment (SPE)", the Federal Investigation Agency (more popularly known as FIA) was later reformed under its current name and structure in 1974 by the Government. The FIA is a principle investigative intelligence service and mandate to take initiatives against the foreign or national elements working against the national interest of the country. It is a civilian intelligence service working under the Ministry of Interior. Its Director-General is appointed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Defence Intelligence services[edit]

In Pakistan Armed Forces, there are three active-duty uniformed intelligence services. The Air Intelligence reports directly to the Chief of Air Staff and the Air Force leads the appointment of the director-general of the AI.[7] The Naval Intelligence (NI) also directly under the Chief of Naval Staff, responsible for gaining knowledge on threats on sea and marine vicinity.[8] The NI also used by the Pakistan Marines to conduct their operations.[9] The Military Intelligence is tasked with taking initiatives against counterinsurgency (COIN) operations, identifying and eliminating sleeper cells, foreign military agents and other anti-Pakistani elements within Pakistan.[6] It is under the Chief of Army Staff.[6]

Civil Armed Forces[edit]

There are also several smaller field intelligence units within the Civil Armed Forces:

National Counter Terrorism Authority[edit]

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) develops counterterrorism policies, reviews their implementation and advises the government on countering extremism. Established in 2008, NACTA received its legal framework and mandate through the NACTA Act of 2013.[14]

Special Branch[edit]

The Special Branch is a vital intelligence unit within the Police Service of Pakistan, commonly recognized as the "eyes and ears" of the government. It plays a crucial role in supporting policy formulation and upholding the security of individuals' lives and property, as well as maintaining law and order. At the helm of the organization is an officer holding the rank of Additional Inspector General of Police. To enhance administrative and operational efficiency, the Special Branch is structured into nine regions, each under the leadership of an officer with the rank of Senior Superintendent or Superintendent of Police. The organization maintains field offices across various locations in Pakistan to effectively carry out its responsibilities.

Counter Terrorism Department[edit]

Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) is an anti-terrorism unit that replaced the Crime Investigation Department (CID) in the provinces. CTDs are responsible for investigating crimes, interrogating suspects and gathering intelligence on terrorist groups. They operate under the provincial Home Ministry and are led by an Additional Inspector General of Police.[15][16]

National Accountability Bureau[edit]

The Ehtesab Act, 1997 established an Ehtesab Cell, charged with the investigation and prosecution of corruption. Under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, the NAB was established as the cell's successor, and given the additional responsibility of preventing and raising awareness of corruption.

Financial Monitoring Unit[edit]

The Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) is the Financial Intelligence Unit of Pakistan established under the provisions of Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 (Previously Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance, 2007). It is an independent intelligence service department of the Government of Pakistan and primarily responsible for analyzing suspicious transactions with respect to money laundering or terrorist financing and building efforts against these critical offenses.

Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation[edit]

Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation was established on 12 August 1957. The (Directorate I&I) was initially centered at Karachi later it was restructured and headquartered in Islamabad as of now. The Directorate serves as the revenue Intelligence of Pakistan that execute its responsibilities under the Federal Board of Revenue. The Directorate is primarily aimed at collecting information regarding tax related offences, smuggling and rendering protection to the economic interest of Pakistan. Its secondary role involves investigation of Sales Tax fraud. Bulk of its rank and file comes from Pakistan Customs and Inland Revenue Service of Pakistan.

Anti Narcotics Force[edit]

ANF intelligence is crucial in combating drug trafficking in Pakistan. They employ various methods to gather information, allowing them to build a comprehensive picture of drug activity. This intelligence is then used to target investigations, disrupt operations, and arrest key traffickers. This plays a vital role in international efforts against global drug trafficking.

Intelligence reforms since 1970s[edit]

In 1972–73, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto adopted many recommendations of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission's papers after seeing the intelligence failure in East Pakistan. This led the reformation of the FIA as Prime Minister Bhutto visioned the FIA as equivalent to American FBI which not only protects the country from internal crises but also from foreign suspected threats therefore he established the FIA on the same pattern. In the 1970s, Prime Minister Bhutto had the Pakistan intelligence to actively run military intelligence programs in various countries to procure scientific expertise and technical papers in line of Alsos Mission of Manhattan Project.[citation needed]

Both FIA and IB were empowered during the government and the scope of their operation was expanded during the 1970s.[citation needed] Though ISI did lost its importance in the 1970s, the ISI valued its importance in the 1980s after successfully running the military intelligence program against the Soviet Union. Sensing the nature of competition, President Zia-ul-Haq consolidated the intelligence services after the ISI getting training from the CIA in the 1980s, and subsequently improved its methods of intelligence.[citation needed]


The Intelligence budgets are kept as secret; a little information is known in public. In 2012, politicians made unsuccessful efforts to introduce a bill for intelligence services financial funds accountable to the Parliament.[17] It later was withdrawn as it reportedly did not have the concurrence of the special committee of the ruling PPP.[17]

In 2013, the Supreme Court ordered the government to submit the secret funds to public accounts utilized in the past to topple political governments.[18]

According to the reports and research, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the PPP spent more than ~$25.8 million on the intelligence services; other reports give vary figures.[citation needed] Between the fiscal year of 1988–90, the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the PPP government spent more than ₨.400 million to buy loyalty of parliamentarians to defeat a no-confidence motion against it, to win elections in Azad Kashmir and to remove the provincial government in the then NWFP to install its chief minister.[18]

Criticisms, controversies, and satire[edit]

Since the 1990s, the entire intelligence community has been under intense criticism from international authors and observers regarding the issues of terrorism, human rights abuses, and methods of intelligence procurements.[1] The intelligence community of Pakistan was first described the English language newspapers, Frontier Post as "invisible government" in an edition published on 18 May 1994. Another English language newspaper, the Dawn, also described the intelligence community as "our secret godfathers" in its opinion section on 25 April 1994.[citation needed] In 2011, the US intelligence community had raised allegations of harbouring Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.[19] The U.S. President Barack Obama himself declared: "We think that there had to be some sort of support network for bin Laden inside of Pakistan," in a "60 Minutes" interview with CBS news. He also added that the U.S. was not "sure" "who or what that support network was."[19][20]

In the period from 2003–2012, it is estimated that 8000 people were kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence services in the Balochistan province. In 2008 alone an estimated 1102 Baloch people disappeared.[21] There have also been reports of torture.[22] The Baloch leaders successfully reached to the Supreme Court intervened in the conflict. The Supreme Court undertook its large investigating the "missing persons" and issued an arrest warrant for the former President Pervez Musharaff. Furthermore, the Chief Justice of the court said the military must act under the government's direction and follow well-defined parameters set by the Constitution.[23]

In June 2011, the prime minister was informed that 41 missing people had returned to their homes, false cases against 38 had been withdrawn and several others had been traced. The PM urged police to trace the missing people and help them to return to their homes.[24] The Supreme Court decided ordered the government to the grant of subsistence allowance to the affected families.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c B. Raman. "A Revamp of Pakistani Intelligence Community is underway". B. Raman of Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chenna. B. Raman of Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chenna. Archived from the original on 31 August 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Pakistan intelligence agencies". Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Federation of American Scientists (FAS). Retrieved 2 July 2013.
  3. ^ Tirmazi., Syed A.I. (1995). Profiles of Intelligence. Lahore, Pakistan: Book publishing in Pakistan. p. 423. OL 955192M.
  4. ^ a b Katz, Samuel M. (2003). Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the Manhunt for the Al-Qaeda terrorists. Forge Publications. ISBN 1466825243.
  5. ^ Reporter, The Newspaper's Staff (2021-06-24). "Intelligence coordination body becomes functional, finally". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 2021-10-18.
  6. ^ a b c d e "verview Of Intelligence Services". Pakistan Uniformed Intelligence Overview. Archived from the original on 14 August 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  7. ^ PAF Administration for Press Release. "Directorate-General for Air Intelligence (DGAI)". Directorate-General for Air Intelligence (DGAI). Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  8. ^ Anwar, Mohammad (2006). Stolen Stripes and Broken Medals. London UK: AuthorHouseUK (October 26, 2006). ISBN 1425900208.
  9. ^ Muhammad Anwar (Author), Ebad Baig (Author) (2012). Pakistan: Time for Change. AuthorHouseUK (December 20, 2012). ISBN 978-1477250303. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  10. ^ a b "Equipping Pakistan's Law Enforcement For Interdiction" (PDF). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 25 February 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  11. ^ "The Gazette of Pakistan. Part III" (PDF). Government of Pakistan. 17 February 2021. p. 103. Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  12. ^ "The Gazette of Pakistan. Part III" (PDF). Government of Pakistan. 31 March 2021. p. 196. Retrieved 13 December 2022.
  13. ^ a b "The Gazette of Pakistan. Part II" (PDF). Government of Pakistan. 30 December 2020. p. 181. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  14. ^ "What Nacta can do". The Express Tribune. 2013-03-16. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  15. ^ Yusuf, Moeed, ed. (2014). Pakistan's counterterrorism challenge. South Asia in World Affairs Series. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 978-1-62616-045-3.
  16. ^ "CID renamed as Counter Terrorism Department". The Express Tribune. 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2024-03-23.
  17. ^ a b "Proposed bill making ISI accountable withdrawn from the Senate". 14 July 2012.
  18. ^ a b APP (2 June 2013). "SC directs IB to submit details of secret funds". Dawn news 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  19. ^ a b "US presses Pakistan on Bin Laden". BBC. May 8, 2011. Archived from the original on 9 May 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
  20. ^ "Pakistan questions need answers, top Obama aide says". CNN. May 20, 2011.
  21. ^ Jackson, Richard (2011). Terrorism: A Critical Introduction. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. Chapter 9. ISBN 978-0-230-22117-8.
  22. ^ "Pakistan: Security Forces 'Disappear' Opponents in Balochistan". Human Rights Watch. 28 July 2011.
  23. ^ "Military must act under govt direction: CJ Iftikhar". PakTribune. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  24. ^ "PM hopes all missing people to be traced". Dawn. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
  25. ^ "Missing persons' families may get allowance". Dawn. 22 June 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011.