Traffic: a small price to pay for your country
By Sadia A Ahmed
The writer holds a bachelor’s degree from Mt holyoke college and a master’s degree in human rights law from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She likes writing and has worked as a journalist.
In Karachi, traffic jams are quite common, as they are in any other busy, over-populated city in the world. Laying on the horn, or sticking ones head out the window trying to get a view of what is ahead has become so natural that most of us use the ‘I got stuck in a traffic jam’ excuse every time we are late. However, those of us who experience traffic jams on a daily basis know that there is some truth to this excuse as well.
A couple of weeks ago I got stuck in a traffic jam myself on way to the Arts Council. Not only was it irritating and uncomfortably restive to get caught up in this jam during the scorching summer heat, but what was even more annoying was to find out that the traffic was held up because of the ‘VIP’ culture in our country. After getting delayed for a good thirty minutes, I was left aghast as some high-up government officials flashed by in a blur, in their seven-car convoy. I wonder where they are rushing to in this ‘in time’ culture anyway. It is not like they pride themselves in getting to a location ‘on-time’ like our western counterparts.
Last year a baby was delivered in a rickshaw in Quetta when the president’s motorcade trapped the traveller in a traffic jam while he was visiting the city. Such incidents are not only unfathomable and disturbing to hear, but also speak to a larger question of the extreme power divide in our country. With democracy now restored for a while, it seems that our leaders who have been chosen to represent and help their citizens, in reality are actually slowing them down by holding them up in the most unnecessary ways possible. What is required at this point is a thoughtful reflection and a change in the ‘VIP’ culture for those who are most important: the citizens.