Pakistan: Defying the odds

The road traffic in a country is a good barometer of its level of discipline, education and mannerisms. There was a time when smartly turned out traffic cops and motor-bike riding sergeants manned the roads of Pakistan and traffic rules were followed and implemented. This was when traffic signals worked and people respected the laws and everyone was expected to abide by them. Gradually, like other spheres of life in Pakistan, the traffic deteriorated into a morass of chaos and dysfunctionality. With total and utter disregard of rules, regulations and common courtesy the roads have turned into a lethal maze that we are expected to navigate through each and every day. Today we are faced with snarling and cursing motorists full of road-rage; heavily laden motor-cyclists verging on lunacy weaving through traffic; and, a host of other inhabitants and contraptions creating impossible traffic scenarios. There is hardly any semblance of order or courtesy as regulations appear to be there for flouting, as plump ill-clad and scruffy looking traffic wardens sit under the trees chatting on their cell phones, while watching the shenanigans on the roads. Occasionally, they can be seen harassing some motor cycle rider or the owner of a small Suzuki Mehran. I have yet to see a warden stop a Prado with an armed guard laden Hi-Lux in tow. Just as the roads appear to be a lawless jungle devoid of governance or order, the governance structure of the country too appears to have fallen apart in every institutional facet. On top of it just as we have handed over our lives to ill-trained and uneducated drivers who navigate the traffic contributing to an already impossible situation, while we sit snugly in the air-conditioned back-seats of our cars oblivious to the chaos on the roads, we have handed over our destiny to a majority of illiterate and uncouth elected representatives, who are at best good for the evening barking bouts on television.

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