The news of teachers undergoing basic arms training for self-defense against the looming terrorist attack has evoked mixed emotions across Pakistan. People are unanimously saluting the bravery of those who have decided to return to school to teach at the risk of their own lives but many are skeptical about arming teachers and expecting them to effectively defend themselves and their students in case of a terrorist attack.

Indeed, it’s not a teacher’s job to learn how to fight terrorists. The schools should hire security. Raise walls. Construct barriers. Perhaps even consider reducing the cost of security by pooling into a single communal security system for a certain demarcated public space. But who is going to organize and fund all this?

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the worst affected province in the aftermath of the war on terror, doesn’t have the resources to patrol over 35,000 public schools and colleges. What they have is the capacity to train teachers on the use of guns. And so far they have conducted two-day workshops for ten schools that demanded training. Whether this facility is availed by the vast majority of public institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remains to be seen. Considering that hundreds of teachers from across KPK gathered in Peshawar recently to denounce the new arms training program offered by the government, it is unlikely the plan will succeed.

Beyond state limitations, where private schools can afford to ‘purchase’ security, snipers are addressing the terrorist threat from a safe distance. And thus, teachers are not thinking about equipping themselves to better react to a terrorist threat. They do still have to start their day by greeting a tiny army of heavily guarded men as they enter their workspace; the psychological burden of teaching in a state of perpetual insecurity following them like a timeless shadow.

Pakistan is often labeled as the most dangerous country for journalists to operate in and one can assume that label has discouraged young talent from the profession. After the heinous massacre of students and teachers in Peshawar on December 16 last year, a similar barrier has cropped up in the field of education. If aspiring teachers are wondering about their ability, or inability, to counter violence with more violence, one can only expect aspiring professionals to steer away from teaching, or leave it for only the exceptionally brave. In this case, the image of an armed teacher may very well inspire courage in a handful few, but it’s likely to punctuate budding careers in teaching with a full stop and this is only one of many potential issues.

While arming teachers and training them in basic self-defense over a two-day workshop, the government must seriously think about a series of connected issues. For instance, if teachers are trained to use arms in self-defense, shouldn’t other public institutions, that are also soft targets for terrorists, be trained to act in self defense? In that vein, if other public institutions are required to become familiar with guns and their use against terrorists, isn’t that tantamount to asking civilians to directly confront the security threat? And that raises an even larger question: what happens when civilians, who are not governed by a state institution, decide to resort to violence proactively and not in self-defense – how will the government curb the misuse of arms that lead to gun violence?

None of these questions have been addressed by the KPK government in a coherent fashion thus far. Perhaps it’s because guns are easy to produce and purchase in KPK where people are already familiar with ammunition, thanks to its often casual, unwarranted use; guns are fired in the air to celebrate everything from birth and marriage to any single variety of a public holiday. But that certainly doesn’t absolve the government of its responsibility to regulate the use of arms. In fact, as a frontline province on the war on terror, we need more eyes on arms distribution than ever before.

The government in KPK must take stock and rethink its response to the terrorist threat. We are at war with an incredibly ruthless enemy that knows no bounds. We are still struggling to reconcile with the loss of innocent life since the Peshawar attack. Emotions are heightened and there is immense pressure on the state to provide security. We do not have infinite resources and we certainly cannot guard every public space with a highly trained combat unit. The predicament we face as a nation demands innovative thinking. And civilians have to play a part in countering terrorism. Arming teachers, however, doesn’t seem like the right answer.

The writer is a social entrepreneur based in Lahore.