The attack on a Peshawar police station by three suicide bombers which left four policemen dead and another six injured, served as a deadly reminder that, despite the seeming recent calm, the war against militancy still needs to be fought. This attack came just a day after a car bomb exploded at a bus stand on Kohat Road in Peshawar, killing 13 people. The stance of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, as stated by the province’s Information Minister, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, has been to blame this resurgence of Taliban attacks on a resumption of drone attacks by the US. The main problem with this theory is that militant violence never actually left Pakistan. Certain regions may have been spared and there has definitely been a reduction in the kind of high profile attacks that used to bedevil Pakistan with such regularity, however, militants have continued to attack security forces and even civilians, particularly in the tribal areas.
The idea that such attacks should act as a spur for negotiations with the Taliban needs to be resisted. All it will do is encourage the militant group to launch further similar attacks. Part of the reason by the Taliban have not been effective in recent months is because of the success of military offensives against them.
Instead, the government needs to improve both its offensive and defensive capabilities. This means taking the fight to the Taliban in their safe havens and enclaves. But it also means equipping the police throughout the country with the training and equipment that it needs to defend itself against terrorist attacks. As the Taliban raids on the Lahore police training academy in 2010 had shown, the police do not have the training to adequately defend itself against such attacks. The police are on the frontlines of a war against militants; we do them a great disservice by forcing them to serve without the proper training against this ever-present threat.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.