THE probable sequence of events and the reconnaissance and planning likely required to carry out the shocking crime are deeply disturbing.
With few, if any, established facts at the moment and the federal government attempting to deflect most questions, it is not clear yet how or why Superintendent of Police Tahir Khan Dawar was found dead in Afghanistan.
What does appear to be clear is that Dawar was tortured and that his death has been claimed by a hitherto unknown militant or splinter militant group as alleged retaliation against the Pakistani state.
According to media reports, Dawar was kidnapped from Islamabad on Oct 26, suggesting a weeks-long ordeal of kidnapping and torture.
He was serving as the head of Peshawar police’s rural circle and, according to media reports, had survived at least two suicide attacks in Bannu.
If the PTI governments at the centre and in KP are aware of the circumstances of Dawar’s disappearance and murder, they are not sharing it with the public at the moment.
Indeed, until photographs allegedly of Dawar’s mutilated body surfaced on social media, nothing was publicly known about his whereabouts or the investigation into his disappearance.
On Nov 6, family members and elders from North Waziristan tribal district held a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club.
They demanded that the policeman be recovered and claimed neither had any information been shared with the family nor did the federal government appear to be taking the matter seriously.
There was no mention of the possibility of his being held in Afghanistan at the time.
If he was kidnapped from a residential sector of Islamabad, then taken outside the federal capital and smuggled across the border to Afghanistan, the implications for the security of the region are deeply troubling.
It would suggest there exists a militant network that is not only actively carrying out reconnaissance of potential targets, but has the capability to capture a veteran policeman and spirit him out of the capital and into Afghanistan undetected.
While it is possible that the security and intelligence apparatus did not share much information with the public about Dawar’s kidnapping in order to try and recover him alive, the government ought to have also considered the cost of excessive secrecy.
The policeman’s colleagues in KP have fought bravely on the front lines of the fight against terrorism, militancy and extremism and have made many sacrifices.
If the police are expected to continue to deliver exceptional counterterrorism results at great cost to their ranks, it ought to be clear that the state will do whatever it can to protect the police and, in the circumstances of a kidnapping, recover a missing policeman.
Obfuscating, denying, downplaying and providing no or misleading information are unacceptable responses.
At a minimum, the family of Tahir Khan Dawar and the police force he represented deserve a full and proper explanation.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018