The killing of six policemen, including a sub-inspector, when they were out on patrol in Lakki Marwat, when their vehicle came under fire on Thursday, shows that terrorism is far from being defeated. The incident, which shocked the entire nation, was condemned by all sections of the political spectrum, with KP Chief Minister’s direction to the IGP, telling him to arrest the culprits, smacking of the treating the matter as something of a routine occurrence.
Not only does this incident show that terrorism is alive and well, as there has been no peace dividend for Pakistan from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, but it is actually spreading, with Lakki Marwat not previously being the venue of terrorist activity. The failure to predict this attack, and thus prevent it, must be accepted by the intelligence agencies as their responsibility. That is what they are there for, not engage in the political manipulation they are notorious for. In this context, the state’s negotiations with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan remain shrouded in mystery, obscured by a lack of accountability to Parliament. Though the TTP has not claimed responsibility for the Lakki Marwat attack, it is a strong possibility that it carried it out. If nothing else, an investigation should allocate responsibility. However, it should also not be lost sight of, that this was a blatant attack on state power, in an area not known to be particularly restive. It also indicates that the police does not train its personnel right. The possibility of the police’s patrolling habits being known needs to be investigated.
However, perhaps the most important lesson of the whole episode is that the attitude of business as usual, and of sweeping the whole mess under the carpet in the hope that time will prove the greatest healer, cannot be kept up. There is a need for some out-of-the-box thinking, for some new approaches, if the problem is to be contained. It is perhaps too much at this point to ask for an elimination of the problem; even containment seems beyond what is happening at present. That six lives have been lost is bad enough, but that the lives were of policemen, shows that the writ of the state is under threat. It is perhaps the least of the problems that the KP government is preparing for the PTI Long March, or that the KP police is performing guard duty for PTI chief Imran Khan in Lahore; worse is the central and KP governments, which should be coordinating closely, are at daggers drawn.