Road Knows and Ford Knows
It was the early 1980s, if I am not wrong. A young girl appeared on the road of a middle class colony of Karachi for going to college, and if I am not wrong, her name was Bushra Zaidi. Out of nowhere a public transport van emerged on the road and crushed Bushra. Other people who were waiting for the conveyance at the place found this accident so dreadful and tragic that they could not stand it. Within no time the wagon was burnt to ashes. The innocent Bushra took away Karachi’s peace with her and till this day the city of lights is in turmoil. Maybe the mourning would have taken Bushra’s parents’ eyesight or maybe they are no more today to grieve and remember their beloved daughter. I have not been able to forget Bushra Zaidi either. I always mourn over her leaving for her final abode instead of marrying and parting for her husband’s pied-à-terre. But the fact which pinches me more is why was that driver allowed to escape and why was he not forced to remain in the burning van to meet his fate?
This was not just one incident. In our beloved holy motherland such accidents have become a routine. I wonder if someone who is a data-collecting enthusiast has ever thought of collecting the data about the death toll due to road accidents. I am sure it must be in the millions? The only difference between us and Western society is that they learn lessons from such debacles while we don’t. Just tell me one day when anyone of us is fluky enough not to read news like the few given below: Over-speeding bus turned turtle, 65 people lost their lives, driver fled away. Out of control van hits pedestrians, 5 die, driver escapes. Bus plunges into river, 56 dead and the driver jumped out of the bus and is safe. Speeding truck takes the life of a school boy while he was crossing the road. The tragedy is that these drivers very proudly do graffiti on their vans and buses like; (Road knows and Ford knows) which speaks about their reckless driving and careless mind.
Believe me; I can quote more than five to six thousand news items of the same kind in which the poor and innocent lose their life while the ruthless drivers escape. In the second phase, ‘Muk-Muka’ (bribery/bargaining) starts, threats are given, approaches are made, penalties are levied and the inopportune next of kin, when handed over the cheques of a few thousand, prefer to remain silent but no one ever tries to dig out the real cause of such murders in broad daylight.
If you are interested in knowing the real cause then I must tell you. The real cause is the issuance of ‘non-deserving’ driving licenses to people who do not deserve to drive even a bull cart. We all know that the traffic offices of the country and their license-issuing counters have virtually become ‘Muk-Muka’ spots. The government has issued a green Highway Code book, the possession of which is mandatory for every driver. How many of us carry this green book in our dashboards? I can say with full confidence that almost 90 percent of the public transport drivers are totally ignorant about the Highway Code because most of them are totally dilettantes and dabblers. Issuing of a driving license is a very sensitive and critical matter. That is why people abroad do not compromise on it. In no way do they allow the immature to play with the lives of the people. However, here in this land of the pure one can very conveniently lay a hand on it by paying a few bucks under the table, especially the public transport mafia, and then one is at liberty to kill as many as he wishes.
It’s not only the public transport drivers who are to be blamed. The private transport drivers are equally good or bad. The very common malpractices observed this side of the camp are underage driving by the spoiled brats of elite families, driving without license, not adhering to the traffic rules and highway code, over-speeding and car drags in the public places and conveniently violating the traffic signals. I often say that the patience of a nation can be gauged at a traffic signal and unfortunately that is the place where we find our countrymen highly impatient, thus present a very poor image of Pakistanis as a nation. We usually don’t meet any accident until we buy a vehicle.
Dear readers! Do you know why all this happens? This is because everyone yearns to have green bills in his purse. There is no merit, no honesty, no sympathy and no concern whatsoever. If you do not believe me, stop any public transport driver on the road and dare ask him a few very basic questions about driving rules and soon he will satisfy you. In the holy motherland anyone who just learns to hold the steering is considered a driver. The tragic comedy is that drivers are allowed to play with the lives of the innocent but the grieved ones are not allowed to put those buses, trucks and vans on fire. What is all this about?
A few years back in a neighbouring town a small boy of class three was killed by a bus. The driver escaped from the scene. An angry and emotionally charged mob set the bus on fire while the transporters blocked the main road because their bus was more precious than an innocent human life. This is another proof that in Pakistan the accidents occur because one does have the right of lane but the other is unfortunately approaches with a cargo truck. Believe me, if I am asked to frame the law, I would ensure that culprit drivers get maximum punishment. It is high time that the high ups of the police department take a serious view of the situation and take strict action not only against the accused drivers but also against the black sheep of their department who are equally to be blamed for these heinous and dreadful murders. I fear that if decision-makers do not pay heed to it, society might make her own way. Will someone tighten the noose around these death-dealers’ neck?