The fight against terrorism and militancy is a hard one and needs the support of the whole country. This is all the more so since we have seen, time and again, that those who do have the courage to fight the militants are left to confront them on their own or are instead targeted. This happened with the many lashkars that were raised to fight the Taliban and also with several law-enforcement officials who have taken the fight to the militants. The tragic death last week of Abul Kalam Khan, the Superintendant of Police (rural), would fall into this category. A young suicide bomber struck his car in Peshawar, killing Khan and injuring four other persons including his guard and driver. Khan has been described by senior police officers as being outstanding in the performance of his duties. Perhaps, this is why he was killed; or, perhaps, he was assassinated simply because he was a security officer. Many personnel wearing uniform have, after all, died at the hands of militants over the past few years.
The suicide attack in Peshawar proves that militants remain active and able to strike at will. If top police officers can be so easily felled, we cannot expect the force to be able to do very much to protect either itself or others. What is obvious is that the policies used so far have failed miserably and we need more innovative ways to deal with extremists. Otherwise there is a real danger that they will win the bitter war that is being fought. The death of a competent and committed police officer makes it a little harder to fight this battle. We need more people like him. We also need to stop the militants by blocking their capacity to recruit more bombers, train them and send them out on their missions. Our lack of success in this is alarming. The cost we have paid for this failure is already huge. We simply cannot afford still more loss of life or the murder of people engaged at some level in the war on terror. Each such death makes the militants a little stronger and a little more confident of their success.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2012.
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