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As Pakistan's security forces battle Taliban fighters in the northwest and explosions tear through its cities, many are asking if the country is paying the price for the policies of its powerful spy agency - the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The ISI came into the limelight in the 1980s when it worked with the CIA to fund, train and arm Afghan and foreign fighters against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Since then, the Islamabad-based agency has helped create and support the Taliban which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Officially, Pakistan's backing for the Taliban ended after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the group was overthrown by US-led forces.

But today, many of those fighters have turned their fury on Pakistan's establishment for siding with the US in Afghanistan - and have targeted ISI offices in Lahore and Peshawar.

New Delhi also accuses the Pakistani agency of undermining peace efforts with Islamabad by waging a covert guerrilla war in Kashmir, but the ISI says it endorses what it calls a legitimate liberation struggle against India's occupation in the disputed region.


Send us your views and get your voice on the air

On Monday's Riz Khan we ask: Is the ISI safeguarding Pakistani interests in a volatile region, or destabilising the subcontinent by pushing its own agenda?

Joining the conversation will be Hamid Gul, the former head of the ISI, ex-CIA agent Michael Scheuer who spent his career working in South Asia, and journalist and author Shuja Nawaz, who has written extensively on Pakistan.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired from Monday, April 26, 2010.

Source: Al Jazeera