Ten people lost their lives in a landmine attack in Kurram Agency on Tuesday, with two census workers included in the number of the dead. There is confusion regarding the target – scattered reports offer conflicting stories; some state that the members of the Shia community in the van were the main target, while others indicate that the census workers were the main reason for this explosion. A Jamaat-ul-Ahraar spokesperson has stated that both the minority community and the census workers were targeted.

This blast in Parachinar comes less than a month after over fifteen people died as a result of a suicide blast next to a masque in crowded Noor Market – in a Shia majority area. The targeted van on this occasion also had Shi’ites present within. While it is still unclear whether the Shia community were the main target, attacks against them have been ongoing since 1986 in the area.

While operations by the security forces have ensured that there are no longer any no-go areas, securing the agencies completely requires a little more than bombing and combing operations. Residents in the agencies have unfettered access to weapons and explosives, and perhaps putting some restrictions into place might help in curtailing the violence being propagated in the area.

There is also the added problem of the state failing to provide for the inhabitants of the agencies compared to other regions in the country, and this breeds resentment and can eventually lead to sympathising with the militants’ cause.

But the historical reasons for violence must also be mitigated, if Parachinar is to become a safer place for its inhabitants. There are precious few efforts (if any) being undertaken to overcome the sectarian divide in the region, and unless that happens, more attacks are likely to take place.

Even if we assume that the Shia community were not the object of ire for the terrorists on this particular occasion, on Tuesday, the census entered its final phase, with the last 87 districts to be covered in the next month. The state’s foremost priority should be ensure that attacks against census workers do not take place due to the earnest nature of the task at hand.

All state bodies, including the armed forces have committed to following through on this exercise no matter the cost, but that does not mean that we stop caring for the collateral damage caused as a result. Avoiding attacks such as this and not allowing for the terrorists to operate in every area of the country is paramount, not only for the census, but peace and security in general as well.