Pakistan has a complicated relationship with protestors. Where at some instances, when it comes to extremist factions, we are tolerating, accommodating and even encouraging towards protesters; but if it is a progressive person fighting for their rights, the authorities seem to display no regard for their safety, or point of view.

Police on Thursday afternoon used tear gas against teachers who wanted to march on Bilawal House from the Karachi Press Club to lodge a protest. The protest was over the non-payment of salaries of the teachers. At least ten protesting teachers were arrested and two injured in the process, according to a spokesperson of the teachers’ union. The teachers had been protesting outside the KPC for one week when the authorities had baton-charged them and used water cannons to prevent them from moving towards the Chief Minister House as rallies were banned in the red zone area. According to the Karachi South SSP, as many as 60 teachers had been detained.

However, unlike in other protest situations, the Sindh government has produced an accurate response to the mishandling of the teachers. Leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), including Asif Ali Zardari, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, condemned the police action against the protesters and ordered immediate release of the detained teachers. Leaders repeated that teachers deserved respect and called for action against the policemen who tear-gassed them and baton-charged them. Immediately afterwards, Sindh Chief Minister held negotiations with the teachers representatives, where the Government conceded to nearly all the demands of the teachers, which included issuing orders for making NTS-passed teachers permanent employees along with the promotion of primary teachers, who had completed 25 years of service, to BPS 16, a higher position for government officers.

The reaction of the police reflects the easy attitude of disregarding progressive or rights protests in Pakistan. This contrast in difference of treatment is evident in the tolerance of extremist protestors who openly challenge the writ of state. While the Sindh government’s act of condemning the police action is a positive step, it is to be seen whether immediately entering into negotiations after the violent incident is the cure to go. While protest is an inevitable right, the culture of using protests and touting the law to meet concession of demands is creating a negative atmosphere in Pakistan, as evidenced in Faizabad and in Multan.