The recent escalation of traders’ protests and police actions in various cities in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) demands our immediate attention and careful consideration. These events serve as a stark reminder of the growing discontent among the public, primarily fueled by skyrocketing electricity bills. While maintaining law and order is the government’s responsibility, it is equally crucial to explore alternative avenues for conflict resolution, avoiding the use of force and violence.
The strike and protests have brought daily life to a standstill in major cities and towns in AJK, with residents expressing their frustration and anger against the government and the Power Division. The situation calls for a thoughtful and measured response that prioritises the welfare of the community.
The strike, organized by the Awami Action Committee in seven districts of AJK, saw widespread participation from various sectors, including traders’ associations, transporters, and lawyers. Social media has also played a significant role in drawing attention to the protests, with videos and messages highlighting the grievances of the people.
One of the key issues driving these protests is the substantial increase in electricity bills, a burden that many households find unbearable. The recent hikes in electricity tariffs, coupled with rising inflation, have added to the financial strain on the public. It is imperative that these concerns are addressed promptly and effectively.
Instead of responding to these protests with force, the government should seize this opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with the traders and the broader public. Finding common ground and exploring solutions that alleviate the financial burden on the public should be the government’s priority. This includes revisiting electricity tariffs, addressing concerns related to taxes, and taking steps to mitigate inflation’s impact on the cost of living.
The government must also demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability in addressing these issues. Clear communication regarding policy changes and their implications can help rebuild trust between the government and the people.
The ongoing unrest in AJK echoes similar protests in other parts of the country, reflecting widespread frustration with economic challenges and rising utility costs. It is a reminder that governments at all levels must prioritise the well-being of their citizens and work diligently to address their concerns.