After experiencing over 13 hours of unannounced loadshedding, the people of Karachi took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs on Tuesday. Tyres were burnt, rocks were hurled and major arteries of the city were clogged with traffic in a bid to gain the attention of the authorities who retaliated with tear gas, multiple arrests and a baton charge. In the end, a 60-year-old woman lost her life as well.

The power shortfall in the country has reached 7500 MW due to the inability to generate more electricity and various supply companies like WAPDA and K-Electric have been managing load through prolonged bouts of loadshedding. Most areas reportedly suffer from a complete blackout that may even last over 18 hours, leaving citizens vulnerable to the hot and humid weather. This hit is made worse in addition to the drastic price hikes that the government has imposed in the power sector, particularly fuel and electricity, as many wonder what they are paying for if there is going to be no electricity all day long.

For the state apparatus to react violently in the face of protests where the public is addressing its grievances is completely unjustified. The public should never take the law into its own hands, but there is something to be said for the appropriate use of force, or choosing to handle things peacefully—an element which is completely missing from our law enforcement tactics.

Hurling tear gas and leading a baton charge is an unnecessarily violent step to take that could result in many injuries and has regrettably caused the death of one woman. There is a greater onus on such authorities to act more responsibly, even in a situation where protests may be causing slight disorder by blocking roads. An aggressive approach cannot always be the solution to problems and the government must end this practice in all of its institutions.

The primary purpose of a protest is to ensure that the voice of the people is heard. What has to be understood is that matters have to be really dire for countless people to flood the streets in the unbearably hot weather. Surely, this warrants for them to be heard out by the government whose responsibility is to solve the people’s problem, those very people that elected them in the first place.