The principal of a private school belonging to the ANP was killed in Karachi on Saturday, and eight others wounded, when gunmen barged in on a result ceremony and fired on him. Though no group has claimed responsibility, the killers obviously wanted the school closed down. It seems that educationists in Karachi are soft targets; a college principal also was recently fell to the bullet of a sectarian fanatic. It also seems that the militants brought an animus against education from KPK. That province and its neighbouring tribal area have witnessed the bombing of a large number of girls’ schools. Apart from the murderous attack on Malala Yousafzai, there has been a girls’ school teacher murdered in the Khyber Agency, earlier this week.

How this has been allowed to happen by the caretaker Sindh government is not just a mystery, but a shame. It shows that the decline in law and order under the elected government persists, and even educationists are not safe. Worse, it demonstrates that militants are now doing in Karachi what they did not in KPK. There, at least, they did not fire on little children so casually as they did in Karachi. Indeed, they only blew up empty schools, and only attacked those they had targeted, as in Ms Yousafzai’s case, in which too some of her schoolmates were also wounded. It should not be forgotten that her father, like the principal in Karachi, was also an educationist active in the ANP

This shows that the province’s new IGP, who was appointed only the day before the attack, must concentrate his efforts on obtaining intelligence about the activities of militants. The provincial government is committed to the fair conduct of the polls and the militants are committed to disrupting them by attacking political gatherings. The attack on children must be treated as a precursor by the caretaker governments at both the provincial and federal levels. They must both buckle down to bringing peace to the city, rather than letting any other region infect it with its own brand of violence. If they cannot perform such a basic function as making their capital safe enough for polls, they will not be able to justify their holding office.