The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has a chronic problem of extremism. The area over time has come under the influence of the extremist ideology, mostly because of lack of governmental reforms and the excessive focus on Punjab.

Over time, the area has become more prone towards adopting and aligning themselves with religious outfits that carry out massacres in the name of a warped ideology. At the same time, KP has become an easy target for the militants. Easy access via Afghanistan into Pakistan makes the job easier, and the sheer refusal of the people of FATA to allow scrutiny has made things quite difficult.

We have increasingly seen that terror targets are now security and law enforcement personnel. Policing agencies already have limited resources and are at a constant threat; and as compared to the military they are an easy target. The death of three Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel in a suicide blast in Peshawar’s Hayatabad area this Monday is an example of that. This is not the first time that security personnel have been targeted. On July 10 in Chaman, SSP Sajid Khan Mohmand was martyred in a terrorist attack after his convoy was targeted with an explosive device. Security services have lost some of its most capable and senior officers to terrorist activities since 2011. From Abid Ali to Malik Saad, from Sifwat Ghayoor to Sajid Khan, the list of sacrifices by Pakistani police is long.

This attack in Peshawar came right after the military announced another operation in Khyber Agency’s Rajpal Valley. The aim of the operation is to reduce the growing influence of Islamic State (IS) in the region, and that can only be done by controlling the entry points. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, which shows their growing allegiance with IS. Despite the military’s repeated efforts, extremist ideology has been internalised and institutionalised. The military operations, Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad, might have pushed these extremists into hiding and carrying out plans in extreme secrecy, but they are still there.

There is no clear move to by the government to invest in making policing strong. Across the board the police is understaffed, lacks modern-day weaponry and technology to combat terrorism and is underpaid. The fact that it is also often corrupt has worsened the situation. Yet, against all odds most of these officers do work in earnest to maintain safety. Serious reforms are needed, but the force won’t reform itself unless these officers see that their work is absolutely essential to counter terrorism and making Pakistan safe.