If you want to survive in Pakistan, don’t stop at the red light!
A few years back, I stopped at a red light and my car was hit in the rear by a taxi driver. A crowd soon gathered and a traffic policeman came over and blamed me for the accident.
“You’re not supposed to stop at traffic signals, even if the light is red,” he said. “You should slow down, look left and right and go across without getting hit, or hitting another car.”
“But what about the traffic rules?” I protested.
He laughed contemptuously.
“Rules are made to be broken. If everyone followed the rules, the country would collapse.”
By this time, the crowd was baying for my blood. To save myself, I agreed to pay the taxi driver for the damages to his car, and I also paid the cop a hefty bribe.
I saw the same traffic cop again a few days later. I parked my car, and went over to have a little chat with him. I was surprised to learn that he was a graduate with a degree in law! When I asked him why he wasn’t practicing law, he said,
“I do work part time in a lawyer’s office, but they don’t pay much. So I work as a policeman during the day. Here, I earn thousands every month and in a couple of years, I’ll be a millionaire. When one of my cousins in the ruling party becomes a minister, he will get me appointed as a judge.”
This being Pakistan, a traffic cop could very well be employed as a magistrate or a district judge in a few months. After all, we have seen how rowdy and undisciplined most of our lawyers are, and some of them do end up as judges.
So we can very well imagine the traffic policeman-turned judge announcing the following verdicts:
“The income tax department has complained that you have always paid taxes without indulging in any cheating. You have never paid bribes to them, which is expected of every Pakistani. For harassing government employees, I sentence you to five years in jail.”
“You are the only man in your locality who hasn’t got his electric meter rigged to show less consumption. The Electric Linemen’s Association has complained that by not paying their members to rig your meters, you have caused them unnecessary stress, due to which many of them have had to be treated for psychiatric ailments. For this, you will spend two years in jail, besides paying the affected linemen of 10 thousand rupees each.”
“According to the Telephone Department Employees Union, you are the only person in your apartment complex who has never bribed a telephone employee to allow you to make unlimited calls to foreign countries. This is intolerable. Telephone department personnel are also humans; they need money to feed themselves and their 10 children. You are sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.”
“Your wife has filed charges against you for not beating her at all since your marriage 20 years ago. She even gave you a stick to beat her with as a birthday present but you threw it out of the window. It has always been the custom of your tribesmen to beat their wives every day to prove they are real men. For this mental cruelty suffered by your wife, you have to spend three years in jail.”
“Your neighbours say that you and your wife take long walks together, sometimes holding hands, and this has caused disturbance in your locality. In our society, the wife should always walk 10 paces behind her husband, but you have deliberately flouted this rule, so you and your wife are ordered to leave the country and live where such behaviour is acceptable.”
“You are a danger to society. You stopped at a red light, causing five cars behind you to ram into each other. I have no choice but to order that you should be locked up for the remainder of your life, lest you cause more damage. You will also pay the five motorists for repairs to their cars.”
And what’s the lesson to be learnt from all this? If you want to survive in Pakistan, don’t stop at the red light!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.