The situation in Pakistan has become increasingly tense over the past week as the country’s police force is reportedly continuing to fire on protesters in the capital city of Islamabad. Despite the efforts of the country’s main opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), to negotiate an end to the violence, the police are continuing to engage in what can only be described as excessive and dangerous use of force against their own citizens.

The protests began in early November when PTI workers and supporters took to the streets to demand greater transparency in the country’s political system. The party, led by former cricket star Imran Khan, has accused the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of stealing the last election and of being corrupt and ineffectual in their governance. This has fuelled a growing distrust of the political establishment among many Pakistanis, leading to a surge of support for the PTI.

However, rather than engage with the protesters and listen to their concerns, the police have taken a hard-line approach, using tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. This has only served to escalate tensions and has led to several clashes between protesters and police.

According to reports from the scene, the police have not only been using force to break up the protests but have also been targeting individual protesters and even members of the PTI. Eyewitnesses have described how police officers have fired on crowds of unarmed demonstrators, including women and children, and have even chased protesters into nearby buildings to continue their attacks.

Perhaps most alarmingly, it appears that the police are willing to engage in this violence despite the clear and public support of the PTI and its leadership for peaceful protests. Imran Khan has called on his supporters to remain calm and to resist the temptation to engage in violence or destruction of property, but the police have not responded in kind.

There are several possible explanations for why the police are continuing to fire on protesters despite the obvious risks to public safety and to their own reputation as a law enforcement agency. One possible explanation is that they see the PTI and its supporters as a dangerous threat to the current political establishment and are therefore willing to engage in extreme measures to suppress their message.

Another possible explanation is that the police are acting on orders from higher up in the government, contradicting the public statements of Sharif and other members of his party calling for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. This would suggest that the government is less committed to protecting the basic rights of its citizens than it is to maintaining its own grip on power.

Whatever the true explanation, it is clear that the situation in Islamabad is deeply troubling and requires urgent action from all parties involved. The PTI has called for an independent investigation into the police’s use of force, as well as for the immediate resignations of the interior minister and the chief of police.

International human rights organisations have also denounced the use of excessive force, calling on the Pakistani government to respect the right of its citizens to peaceful protest and to prevent further violence. The United Nations has urged all sides to engage in dialogue and to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

It is important to remember that the protests in Pakistan and the police response to them are not isolated incidents but rather symptoms of a deeper crisis in the country’s political system. Corruption, nepotism, and a lack of accountability are endemic in Pakistan, leading to widespread public disillusionment and anger.

In this context, it is imperative that the government listen to the concerns of its citizens and work towards genuine reform in the country’s political and economic systems. The use of violence to suppress dissent is not a viable long-term solution and will only sow further divisions and instability in Pakistan.

Ultimately, the situation in Islamabad is a test of Pakistan’s commitment to democracy and to the rule of law. The government must recognise the gravity of the situation and take immediate action to prevent further violence and to restore the rights of its citizens to peaceful protest. The police must also be held accountable for their actions and be reminded that they exist to protect and serve the people, not to act as a tool of repression for those in power.