Magazine article The Spectator

The Enemy Within

Magazine article The Spectator

The Enemy Within

Article excerpt

Inside the Pakistan Army

by Carey Schofield

Biteback, £19.99, pp. 240,

ISBN 9781906447021

The most telling figure in Carey Schofield's book on the Pakistan army is Faisal Alavi, a major general who was murdered in November 2008. As head of Pakistan's special forces, Alavi found himself in a bitter struggle against influential military opponents in the Pakistan army. They favoured secret deals, paying large sums to the Taleban leader Baitullah Mehsud so that his supporters should not target the army. Alavi was by contrast desperate to attack the Taleban, and made no secret of this when on a visit to SAS headquarters at Hereford in 2005.

He told Lt Col Richard Williams, then commanding 22 SAS, that he knew 'Pakistan was not pulling its weight on terror' and that 'a considerable section of Pakistani society was sympathetic to the Taleban and that this affected the ISI and the military.' He added that 'a great many officers were concerned about the impact that tough military action would have. People worried about the effect on their families.' He advised SAS to build bridges with Pakistan Intelligence 'so there were personal relationships to rely on'.

But at the very moment that Major General Alavi was seeking support in Hereford he was being intrigued against in his own army HQ in Rawalpindi. In August 2005 he was summarily dismissed 'for conduct unbecoming'. His enemies had won. Schofield says he was privately told that he would be looked after if he went quietly.

But Alavi, outraged by the injustice of it all, insisted on fighting his ground. This resolve proved to be his death warrant. On 19 November 2008 he was shot dead by three unknown gunmen on a highway in Islamabad. Only a few days earlier, over lunch with Schofield, the Major General had told her that he feared that he would be killed by the enemies at army HQ.

Alavi's murderers have never been brought to justice, and Schofield says that I do not know who killed, or commissioned the killing of, Major General Alavi. It may have been a sad coincidence that while Alavi prepared for assault by his personal enemies he was, in fact, targeted by others.

Such a story could only have been written by an insider and Schofield has provided the ultimate insider's account. …

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