ISI – Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence plays a major role in regional instability and covertly promoting terror groups. Experts state that continued support to extremist groups by ISI has worsened the situation in entire South Asia including India, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan itself.
Think Tank Global Security Review in its most recent paper has highlighted ISI’s persistent hesitancy to destroy terrorist groups “instead of hoping to nurture them and use them in the future against Pakistan’s regional rival, India.”
Since its creation in 1948, the agency has embedded itself in army and military affairs and has backed, continues to do so, terrorist organizations that provide strategic depth within India and greater influence in Afghanistan.
Regional expert Alexandra Gilliard has described it well stating the organization’s effort are designed to promote Pakistan’s regional hegemony, whilst wreaking havoc on neighbours – India and Afghanistan’s national security interests. It’s a known fact that the ISI supports and aids terror-creating groups including the Haqqani network and Afghan Taliban. Recently, the Pakistan government helped the US create a dialogue with the Taliban and of course took all the credit, after all, the Afghan Taliban is homegrown.
Gilliard reveals that due to inconsistencies in its counter-terrorism campaign, the United States quietly listed Pakistan’s intelligence agency as a terrorist organization in its military documents and instructed that ISI officers be treated the same as terrorists.
Creating Havoc in India and Afghanistan
Pakistan considers India its ‘partitioned-enemy’. And it is very much active in Kashmir, with regular reports of Pakistani-armed militants crossing into Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for terror activities. ISI uses the Haqqani network and the Afghan Taliban as a cover in Afghanistan and using Afghanistan as a proxy in its conflict with India.
In Afghanistan, Gilliard says Pakistan’s primary goal is to prevent India from gaining ground and obtaining too much influence. “As the Taliban vies for more control, the ISI has provided it with military aid to ensure Afghanistan remains in a state of perpetual instability. Should the Taliban gain power, Pakistan will have bought itself a staunch ally in the region, with the potential to form a strategic partnership against India.
Should the Taliban fail to gain power, Pakistan will have done its best to destabilize the country and prevent a potential strong governmental alliance with India.” Gilliard explains that Pakistan basically depends on radical groups to foment insecurity with Afghanistan. But then again, Islamabad has played a very active role in getting the Taliban readied for a ‘peace dialogue’ with the United States. And a peace-deal is almost in the cards.
With peace talks in Afghanistan, Kashmir has never been bloodier. The conflicted state has been torn between torn between two nuclear-powered countries since the 1947 partition. And Pakistan is not helping by sending in infiltrators again and again.
According to the International Crisis Group counter-terrorism in the region will be ineffective as long as the ISI continues to make distinctions between the ‘good’ and ‘bad terrorist groups. If it wants Pakistan to move beyond the label of ‘a country sponsoring terrorist groups’, ISI has to step back and let the government machinery do its work to gain ‘positivity’ in the region.