WHILE the political leadership’s dithering and mixed signals on the fight against terrorism has left confusion worse confounded, there is no retreat into the comfort of demurral for the law enforcement agencies on the frontline. The nature of their work — and the ruthlessness of their adversaries — makes it a battle starkly drawn in black and white, one in which their lives are at risk every hour, every day. The KP police are among the LEAs most directly impacted by the militancy raging in the tribal areas that abut the province and further north. Sixty-five policemen have been killed in the first six months of this year alone. The perils they contend with on a daily basis cannot be overstated. This is what makes the KP chief minister Pervez Khattak’s scathing denunciation of the force, that too at a public forum — a workshop organised by the police on thana culture — so perplexing and ill-advised. Granted, he acknowledged their sacrifices, and his criticism was specifically concerned with corruption in the force, but the vehemence of his tirade overshadowed his earlier positive observations regarding the police’s performance.
Aside from the fact that corruption in the force, while undeniably present, is widely held to be not as endemic as among police elsewhere in the country, the chief minister’s outburst betrays a lack of perspective in appreciating the crucial role played by the KP police as the first line of defence in the fight against militancy. The force is already reeling from continued onslaughts that have depleted its strength. It is also reported that police personnel are increasingly seeking appointments in sectors that do not confront the militancy head on, such as the motorway police, FIA, etc. The last thing the beleaguered force needs is further demoralisation.