The PPP government made a faux pas in trying to bring the ISI under its control and it is probable that the move might have come under great pressure after the recent bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul. But let it be clear that the notion ISI spends most of its time on external defence is false and that the civilians should therefore should not bother about it is equally flawed and dangerous. The history does not support the view the ISI's role has been largely external or that the US administration's reservations about rogue elements in the ISI are a recent or post 9/11 phenomenon. The most important lesson from history is that intelligence agencies when not accountable to the elected government and are not subject to checks and balances can become a state within a state. Shah of Iran's Savak was notorious for its repression, the FBI under Edgar Hoover was even suspected of carrying out the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the CIA was directly involved in assassinations of foreigners before it was forbidden to do so by an executive order of President Ford in February 1976. In Pakistan, the then"Deputy Army Chief of Staff General R. Cawthorne formed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency in 1948. Prior to the 1958 coup and the implementation of martial law, the ISI reported directly to the Army Chief. After the implementation of martial law, the ISI began to report to then President Ayub Khan and the martial law administrator. It was not Mr. Bhutto who started the use of the ISI for domestic intelligence. It was under General Ayub Khan, the ISI became responsible for monitoring Pakistani politicians, especially those in what was then East Pakistan. Khan expanded the ISI's role to the protection of Pakistan's interests, which included the creation of a covert action division within the ISI to assist Islamic militants in Northeast India, as well as to assist the Sikh Home Rule Movement in the 1960s. Altaf Gauhar, one of the most powerful bureaucrats to serve Ayub Khan, wrote a revealing piece about the nature of the ISI operations in the daily Nation on August 17, 1997: "The President used to receive regular reports on the political situation in the country from the ISI and the MI. These reports in sealed envelopes marked 'Eyes Only' were usually handed over to the President by the C-in-C. On a few occasions the President gave me these reports and it seemed to me that the agencies were keeping the politicians, particularly the East Pakistanis, under close surveillance. I rarely found anything insightful in these reports. The DIB had direct access to the President and his weekly reports used to be fairly exhaustive. It was during the presidential election in l964 that the ISI and the Military Intelligence became extremely active (emphasis added)." According to Altaf Gauhar, the crisis of intelligence failure came during the 1965 war. Brigadier Riaz (then ISI chief) told Altaf Gauhar that he had contacts inside the Occupied Kashmir and in other major Indian cities. "I will flood you with news. Don't worry". When the war started there was a complete blackout of news from all the intelligence agencies. When Gauhar got nothing out of the ISI for two days he went to Brigadier Riaz only to learn that all his contacts had gone underground. The ISI played a key role in the Afghan war and worked closely with the CIA in what was its biggest covert operation since the Vietnam War. While much is made of its role, most Pakistani analysts have either ignored or not given due importance to the fact that the oil price collapsed in the 1980s and the Soviet Union became bankrupt. Notwithstanding this aspect, by 1985 the tide of the war had shifted in favour of Moscow according to analysis produced in 1985 by Richard Clarke, the then US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. According to his memoirs, his boss told him: "Don't just tell me we're losing, Clarke, tell me what the (expletive deleted) to do about it." The decision to send Stinger missiles by then Secretary of Defence Casper Weinberger in 1986 was crucial in turning the tide in favour of the Afghan fighters trained and backed by the ISI. By this time, the US aid had also been increased to US$ 600 million from $35 million in 1982. Following the end of Afghan War, the CIA and the Americans abandoned Afghans but the ISI continued to play a key role in Pakistan's Afghan policy including training of Taliban in Afghanistan and support of right wing extremists in Pakistan. What complicated the matters was Talibans' involvement with Osama bin Laden. The Taliban regime had provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden who was wanted by the US even before 9/11. President Clinton ordered cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan in August 1998 on what he described as one of the most active terrorist bases in the world. In his television address on August 20, 1998, Mr Clinton named "exiled Saudi Arabian dissident" Osama bin Laden as the mastermind behind the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. On the same day, a spokesman for the ruling Taliban, Mullah Abdullah, told CNN and Reuters that "bin Laden is safe and no damage has been done to any of his companions." The top officials of Clinton administration suspected, even in 1998, that if "Pakistan's ISI wanted to capture bin Laden or tell us where he was, they could have done so with little effort", according to Richard Clarke, the chief of counter-terrorism for Bill Clinton. The ISI's name figured again in the aftermath of 9/11. The DAWN published the following story on October 10, 2001. "Director General of Pakistan's Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Mahmud Ahmed has been replaced after the FBI investigators established credible links between him and Umar Sheikh, one of the three militants released in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999. The FBI team, which had sought adequate inputs about various terrorists including Sheikh from the intelligence agencies, was working on the linkages between Sheikh and former ISI chief Gen Mahmud which are believed to have been substantiated, reports PTI website. Informed sources said there were enough indications with the US intelligence agencies that it was at Gen Mahmud's instruction that Sheikh had transferred 100,000 US dollars into the account of Mohammed Atta, one of the lead terrorists in strikes at the World Trade Centre on September 11, it adds." While this news was disturbing to say the least, the objective fact remains that Gen Mahmud Ahmed, the ISI chief, was replaced barely a month after he had returned from Washington after spending about ten days meeting top officials of the Bush administration. The record speaks for itself. The ISI has played a key role in elections beginning in 1964 and thereafter, and in conducting Afghan policy and operations. The support for Taliban and parties like the JUI and various local militant groups blurred the distinctions between its foreign and domestic roles. We almost never had free and fair elections and Afghanistan crisis now threatens the very survival of Pakistan as it exists today.