The Growing Network of Pakistan’s ISI in India

Since Pakistan considers India its eternal enemy, the ISI is engaged in an eternal and enduring struggle against India.

The role of the Pakistani Military’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is being suspected in a series of recent train mishaps, especially since the Indore-Patna Express train tragedy near Kanpur on November 20 in which about 150 lives were lost. The National Investigating Agency (NIA) is also investigating the ISI’s involvement in these incidents. While the most likely cause of these train incidents seems to be the poor upkeep of rail tracks, the ISI has indeed been active throughout India in the recent decades. Scores of Indian nationals, mostly non-Muslims, were arrested from towns across India for their role as an ISI agent in recent years. These arrests revealed the involvement of ex-military officers, terror suspects, army clerks, criminals and others.

Over the past decade and more, the cities and towns from where the ISI agents were arrested included Ahmedabad, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi, Mohali, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Patiala, Jalandhar, Shimla, Aligarh, Meerut, Kanpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Patna, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Agartala, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Bengaluru, Chennai, and so on. The names of these cities crop up when you search the websites of Indian newspapers. The ISI agents active in India are mainly of two types: those engaged in gathering secret information of military nature, and those involved in recruiting and planning terror modules. However, some are also involved in sabotage activities and in flooding the country with fake currency notes.

In his book “Pakistan’s ISI: Network of Terror in India,” senior cop S.K. Ghosh examined the revelations of the arrested ISI agents and noted that the ISI’s strategy involved the following: Use Kashmiri Muslims and cause subversion and terrorism across India, prepare an extensive ISI network and plant cadre of terrorists and spies in every part of India, trigger serial blasts in major cities, create insurgencies in parts of India where Muslim population is significant, and create newer fronts in Pakistan’s proxy war against India. Speaking of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, Ghosh observed that these were “not a Hindu-Muslim problem” but “an India-Pakistan problem.”

The ISI is supposed to be Pakistan’s external intelligence, which it is, but it also functions as a domestic intelligence agency. Its role in creating, nurturing and sheltering jihadi organisations is known as well as its role in creating political parties, spying on Pakistani politicians and pressuring the civilian governments. In 2014, the mass protests led by Imran Khan and the Barelvi cleric Maulana Tahirul Qadri against the elected government of Nawaz Sharif were planned by Lt.-Gen. Shuja Pasha, the former chief of ISI. In the external domain, the ISI has exercised total control on Pakistan’s foreign policies involving India, Afghanistan and the U.S. At least since the 1980s, the ISI has used its jihadi organisations in Afghanistan and right since 1947 against India in Kashmir. ISI specialises in proxy wars. Recently, former ISI chief Lt.-Gen. Zaheerul Islam said: “The only successful proxy war against the communist USSR was won by Pakistan Army and ISI.”

The following jihadi organisations work as part of the ISI’s network: the Afghan Taliban, who have their headquarters in Quetta; the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is also known as Jamaatud Dawa and has its headquarters in Muridke near Lahore; Bahawalpur-based Jaish-e-Muhammad is headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, who was released by India in exchange for the passengers of the Indian plane hijacked to Kandahar in 1999; Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, which is also known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and is known for systematically killing Shias because it thinks Shias are not Muslims. Also, the ISI creates groups of terrorists, trains them and regularly sends them into Jammu & Kashmir to fight against Indian security forces.

Walter Joseph Cawthorne, the Australian-born British army officer, is considered as the founding father of the ISI. He served as the head of ISI from January to June 1948 and went on to become the deputy chief of Pakistan Army from 1948 to 1951. In his book “Faith, Unity, Discipline – The ISI of Pakistan,” German author Hein G. Kiessling notes that Pakistani historians cite the British intelligence service MI6 “as the blueprint for the ISI, partly because the first training and equipment assistance came from MI6 and from the CIA.” Since Pakistan was carved out of India and in enmity against India, it was the logical next-step for the ISI to target India. The ISI and the CIA cooperated during the 1950s and 1960s, especially after U.S. pilot Francis Powers was shot down in the USSR on 1 May 1960, having taken off in a spy plane from Peshawar.

During the 1971 Bangladesh war, Kiessling notes, “The CIA and ISI also cooperated in working against the Indira Gandhi government after she signed an agreement with Moscow on 7 August 1971 confirming peace, friendship and cooperation between India and the Soviet Union.” Kiessling adds: “During the 1960s, it was involved in the support of local militant groups in north-east India, and from the mid-1970s, it also helped insurgent Sikhs in Indian Punjab.” This Sikh radicalisation and militancy in Punjab was crushed by senior police officer K.P.S. Gill during the 1980s. In Burma’s Arakan region from where Rohingya Muslim refugees are nowadays coming to settle in parts of India including in Jammu, the ISI had been active right from the early days of Pakistan, which included East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh. Mizo insurgent leader Laldenga and his supporters, as per Kiessling’s book, had gone to Arakan from where the ISI had taken them to Karachi sometime in the early 1970s.

Since Pakistan considers India its eternal enemy, the ISI is engaged in an eternal and enduring struggle against India. A number of terror attacks in Kashmir and other parts of India in recent decades, including those carried out by the Indian Mujahideen, were planned and executed by the ISI. It is unreasonable to expect that India’s intelligence agencies will always know everything that the ISI does in India, though they do work at their best. However, their work goes largely unnoticed because it involves prevention of ISI’s anti-India designs. The new generation of Indian youths might not be aware of the ISI’s large network across the country, but it must be stressed that the ISI is much more active in cities and towns across the country than can be publicly perceived. Indian youths must keep this in mind: an aware citizen is the always best defence for India.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

Former BBC journalist Tufail Ahmad is the executive director of the Open Source Institute, New Delhi. Ahmad is the author of “Jihadist Threat to India – The Case for Islamic Reformation by an Indian Muslim.” He tweets @tufailelif
  • SuchindranathAiyer

    Ghazwa e Hind has been going on for a thousand years. It was fought to a stand still at enormous cost in Land, Treasure and the finest genes by the Aryas, the Rajputs, Vijayanagar and Satraps, the Marathas and so many others, and finally given the quietus by the British over the vehement protests of Khilafart Gandhi and the Indian National Conngress. It was revived by Britain (Partition, CENTO et al) to divide India and brought to a boil by Pax Americana once the US-NATO-Sunni Axis was forged with Petro Dollars by Nixon, Kissinger and Yamani and which has directed global wars, economies, public opinion, terror, and trafficking in slaves, contraband drugs, minerals and weapons ever since.

    This momentum, of implementing the Quran and the Hadiths, is coming to a boil, once again, throughout South Asia. But for India to acknowledge the truth or act upon it would be a repudiation of the Indian PANGOLIN* Mythology.

    *Note: PANGOLIN: An enemy of India who believes in inequality under law, exceptions to the rule of law and persecution of some for the benefit of others. At present, the sole purpose of the Indian Republic, Constitutional or otherwise, is to pamper and provide for certain constitutionally preferred sections of society who the British found useful to hold and exploit India at the cost of those who the British hated and persecuted. The Pangolin is a creature that is unique to India and feeds on ants that are known in nature to be industrious and hard working if not quite as fruitful as bees who flee to better climes. (PANGOLIN is an acronym for the Periyar-Ambedkar-Nehru-Gandhi-Other (alien) Religions-Communist Consensus that usurped the British Mantle and has worn it with elan to loot, plunder, and rape India since 1921 and re write History and laws to their exclusive benefit since 1947)

  • Shubhangi Raykar

    A good article

  • Seel

    GOI can request the citizens to protect the rail infrastructure from saboteurs. Police or security can’t watch the thousand of miles of tracks but the locals can watch the tracks much closer. With creating State national guards much more security can be assured.

    • Shubhangi Raykar

      How can citizens do it?

  • Samrat Bharat

    FAKE STORY. After demonetization, all terrorism and ISI activity has completely fallen silent. By replacing 500/1000 rupee notes by the even larger 2000 rupee note, Modi has finished off all of India’s enemies. Acche din are fully here !

    • Jaam Abubakr

      ALLAH krey achey din e rahen yar hmesha AAMEEN!
      Good will from Pakistan for both India and Pakistan…

      • Samrat Bharat

        Thanks buddy. Hopefully, more of our citizens on both sides see how similar we are and stop playing up the differences for political reasons.

        • Rama

          Fact: Before partition, more than 90% of Indian Muslims voted for a separate country Pakistan as they felt that they cannot live with fellow Hindus. Fact: Pakistan initially was a secular country. But just after few years it declared itself as a Muslim country. Bottom line: Most Muslims cannot co exist with Hindus because of their religious dictates. All peace initiatives should come from Pakistan as they are the instigators of terrorism. Wishy washy statements that we all brothers won’t wash.

          • Samrat Bharat

            LOL ! Right now, right here in our country, the world’s second largest Muslim population coexists with their fellow citizens. Finally, leaving aside religious nut cases and politicians, all the common person wants is a life of comfort, stability and safety for themselves and their families.

          • Indian

            Yeah, Muslims are happily coexisting with Hindus, example Kashmir!!

          • Samrat Bharat

            Is that the only state in India?

          • Rama

            In Tamil there is a proverb. To check whether the rice in a pot has been cooked well, you check it out with one grain only

          • Samrat Bharat

            Sounds stupid. Probably means all Tamil proverbs are stupid.

          • Shubhangi Raykar

            But that is a common proverb in Marathi as well You take out a couple grains between you fingers to see if they are cooked. Many Muslims have closed mindsets.

          • Samrat Bharat

            Marathi is worse. Thanks to the 6 wives and who knows how many mistresses Shivaji had, everyone of that community thinks of themselves as his illegitimate descendants.

          • Shubhangi Raykar

            Shivaji died several centuries before the Hindu code bill.

          • Samrat Bharat

            Exactly. All these centuries and still the Marathi population thinks they came from his sperm.

          • Rama

            Why is it stupid? Do you check each grain in the pot to see whether it is cooked?

          • Samrat Bharat
          • Rama

            This is a common ploy. Misleading in the name of science. Here we are talking about cooked rice. Just testing one grain will show you whether the rice as a whole in the pot had been cooked or not. You can do all scientific experiments by cooking 100 pots of rice and checking just one grain from each pot to know whether the rice is cooked. Or not. Your example is of RAW rice grains. Not the same. Anyhow, if you want to bat for the Mullas, good luck to you.

          • Samrat Bharat

            Ah, science is not for you. So nothing could go wrong during the cooking? May be the grain was stuck above water level, dropped back late when the water boiled, so is only partially cooked?

            I am not batting for Mullas (assuming this is your slang for religious fanatics). They are as misguided (and some as dangerous) as the, babas, bapus, sri sris, sadhvis and yogis. I am batting for classmates, colleagues, neighbors – all of who just want to live a better life and to not need to worry about a religious nut case killing them for what they eat or say.

          • Indian

            Mmm, science is not your forte either! If you cook hundred pots of rice of same quality under the same temperature and for the same duration, what I said would would make sense . Now WB, areas where there’s 80%muslim majority, they are stopping Hindus celebrating Saraswati puja. Very tolerant. Sadhvi fyi has been found not guilty btw. Just generalise, why worry about facts?

          • Samrat Bharat

            I just gave you an example of why the conditions were not the same 😀

            That’s the downside of bringing religion into schools. Both puja and prayer should not be allowed. Let children learn something useful, like Science and Math.

            Ah, so you can generalize other communities. But each sadhvi has to be considered an exception 🙂 Salman also was not found guilty. Are you his fan too?

            And is this sadhvi any better than Zakir Naik: https://youtu.be/BI_9NjGE9EQ?t=22 ?

          • Rama

            When your scientific link is proved wrong for the example I have given, your ploy is make it all light hearted and brush off and switch to another topic. Not going to respond again. Getting tiresome

          • Samrat Bharat

            You gave an example that assumes everything works perfectly as planned in real world. It does not. I am pointing that out.

          • Shubhangi Raykar

            West Bengal, Kerala, parts of UP and Bihar, Gujarat

          • Samrat Bharat

            If you just ticking off states where there have been communal tensions, you are missing out another 20 of them at least.

          • Shubhangi Raykar

            Does it? They are creating problems where they have sizable population.

    • Shubhangi Raykar

      Stupid fellow. Modi Basher everywhere.

      • Samrat Bharat

        Yep. Modi is stupid.