Whose side is the Pakistan military actually on? Recent leaked US intelligence records, for example, show that the US suspects Pakistan's ISI intelligence service of collusion with the Taliban. But the Pakistan army is at the forefront of the West's war on terror, policing the border with Afghanistan and the lawless tribal areas where Osama bin Laden is said to be hiding, and sporadically mounting offensives to crush the insurgents of the Taliban, supported by controversial US drone missile strikes. In Pakistan recently, thousands have died in suicide attacks across the country as insurgents have brought their war against the pro-Western Government to the country's cities. Pakistan has suffered greatly as a result of its involvement in America's war. The success or failure of the Pakistan army in this and similar offensives is now seen as critical to the West's hopes of halting the spread of Islamist extremism outside Afghanistan and Pakistan. Carey Schofield is uniquely placed to comment on the contradictions at the heart of this extraordinary institution.
She spent five years with the Pakistan Army, accompanying them on manouveres, getting to know key figures, from junior soldiers up to Kayani and Musharraf, his predecessor. For five years, she travelled everywhere with them, becoming so accepted they even had a uniform made for her. Inside the Pakistan Army is the truth about this institution and its vital role as an ally in the war on terror.
Carey Schofield is a writer and journalist. She is a visiting fellow at Oxford University's Leverhulme Project on the Changing Character of War.