Inter Services Intelligence Agency, ISI, is one of the most powerful intelligency of Pakistan. It’s the largest and one of the most important intelligence setup among the five major intelligence setups of Pakistan.
ISI gained international recognition mainly after supporting Talibans in Communist Afghanistan against Soviet Union invasion. CIA, the U.S. intelligence agency and Saudia worked in close coordination with Pakistan during that time and provided funding and training.
Who is the head of ISI?
The Director General of ISI is usually a three star General since 1971 war, however he can be anyone including civilian too. He is selected directly by the Prime Minister and reports directly to the Prime Minister.
ISI job openings are hidden?
No, not at all. The channel for joining is very clear and open for both military and civilian people.
Who can join ISI?
Both civilians and military personnel can join ISI.
For civilians, the jobs are advertised by Ministry of Defence. Federal Public Services Comission (FPSC) conducts the examination and selection of the candidates and then interview is done.
Military people have to apply for the intelligence course, once selected and passed from the institute, they sometimes have to serve in military intelligence first. Those will good reput and skills are incorporated into the ISI. Military people can join ISI directly too under various circumstances though.
Can a military person join ISI immediately?
Soldiers (and officers too) can only join ISI upon approval of their unit or formation command. If they allow them and give their availability only then they can join under normal circumstances.
Fresh individuals usually aren’t selected in ISI from military.
Once selected, the individuals undergo the basic training before joining the intelligence agency. Initial years (5 years on average) are considered basic service and individuals are not entrusted with sensitive jobs during this phase usually. Individuals who clear 5 year mark with good service record and reput are usually declared the core team of ISI.
Official logo of ISI Pakistan (Inter Services Intelligence)
The logo is the markhor holding a snake in its mouth.
Can we choose the role we want to play in intelligence?
Usually No. The tasks and roles are defined by the command structure based on need and the skills of the individual. Postings are done based on requirement too and thus individual don’t have much control on the job location and details usually.
ISI gives you power, authority and privileges?
No. Everyone in intelligence is under check by someone else. Usually one department or regional person don’t know what the other region is doing. So they are limited to the authority and powers in their small region only.
Also, ISI individuals live not just in Islamabad or Karachi, but also in regions which are backwards, where there is no use of privileges anyway.
Also, as they live under cover mostly, they can’t benefit from the privilege of mentioning that they are from ISI to individuals around them, or use any benefits of the setup abruptly that might blow their cover off.
Do military officers prefer ISI?
No. Some might do, but mainly that’s not the case. Mostly those individuals who don’t pass the staff course (required for maintaining good career in mainstream Army) opt for intelligence course. The reason is same that the mainstream army has more benefits and privileges than the intelligence setup, and is more secure and predictable.