In the late 20th century, the ISI’s work and activities in relation to Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet Union during the Soviet–Afghan War in then-communist Afghanistan became quite famous. During this war, ISI worked in cloase coordination with the Central Intelligence Agency. They later provided strategic and intelligence support to the Afghan Taliban against the Northern Alliance in the civil war in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
Ex RAW chief, India AS Dulat,Aditya Sinha in Sep 2015, admitted that ISI is the most powerful Intelligence agency in the world. He said “The most powerful intelligence agency is either KGB which no more exists or ISI, because they are very anonymous”. He expressed similar appreciation for his arch rival agency in his book “Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years”
The ISI was established as an independent intelligence service in 1948 in order to strengthen the sharing of military intelligence between the three branches of Pakistan Armed Forces in the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, which had exposed weaknesses in intelligence gathering, sharing and coordination between the Army, Air Force and Navy. After the 1971 Indo Pak war, the agency has been headed by a Gen officer three-star general officer of Pakistan Army, being the biggest segment of Pakistan armed forces.
The agency includes officers from all three branches of the Pakistan Armed Forces; Pak Army, Pak Air force, Pak Navy and large number of Civilians officers.