Pakistani drivers: A nation or a mob?

Published: September 30, 2014
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We all cuss the government that it doesn’t do its job in the right manner and God knows what, but do we fulfil our duties as responsible citizens? PHOTO: SHAHBAZ MALIK/EXPRESS

It is said that the way people drive in a country tells a lot about how disciplined and orderly its citizens are. Well, I realised this on two occasions; first, when I came back to Pakistan from the United Arab Emirates and second, when I returned from Sri Lanka.

On both occasions, the contrast in driving patterns was painfully evident. The impatience and desperation of Pakistani drivers and their low maturity level made me feel worried about the future of this nation. I saw people taking the wrong side of the road just to save around Rs10 worth of petrol and diesel, all the while putting their lives as well as the lives of others at risk. What’s even worst is that if they hit you while coming from the wrong side, they’ll blame it on you for driving carelessly.

I have been honked at on different occasions, by I don’t know how many people, for stopping my car at a red light on a traffic signal in Karachi. I have also been honked at by many car drivers for letting another car go before me on a roundabout or on a cut and I was also cursed once for giving way to a pedestrian because nobody else would.

Let me make a few things clear over here.

No, I am not saying that I am a perfect, law-abiding citizen or driver.

Yes, I do make mistakes. I do, sometimes, make irresponsible turns and cuts.

But neither do I want to do it all the time nor have I made it a habit to drive or behave irresponsibly. However, that is not the case with most drivers.

I only mention these instances because many a time I see people trying to get through first – when it is actually someone else’s turn – and then getting themselves and others stuck in a traffic jam just because of their impatience and haste. What use is such behaviour to society or to individuals?

I see people cursing others when they make a mistake on the road and I think, why swear on someone like that? Nobody has to curse anybody at all for a simple driving mistake. In fact, a reassuring smile depicting “no worries, we are all humans” can actually work on a person better. But we (including me) have to make a fuss every time and resolve to addressing each other with swear words and curses.

We all cuss the government that it doesn’t do its job in the right manner and God knows what, but do we fulfil our duties as responsible citizens?

How many times have you thought about cleanliness before throwing a candy or chocolate wrapper on the road?

How many times have you thought about breaking a signal, and have felt pride after successfully doing so?

How many times have you considered how your behaviour will reflect upon everyone else in the society? Have you ever thought about becoming a responsible citizen?

How many times have you considered that other people in your society have the same rights as you? Is it only the government’s responsibility to fulfil its duties with honesty? Or does it apply on us as well?

I can understand people breaking signals after midnight, since our country’s law and order situation is unimpressive and it is not really that harmful to do so in the middle of the night. But doing it all the time, irrespective of time and place, is wrong.

People, we have to behave in a civic way. We must behave ourselves. Our attitude and behaviour is not that of a nation that wants to develop its land and people. We behave in a way that is reminiscent of a selfish after-game crowd where everyone just wants to get out of the stadium without giving way to anyone else.

Sometimes I consider if what Hassan Nisar often says about us Pakistanis is actually true:

“This is not a nation, it’s a mob”.

Mujtaba Hasan Zaidi

Mujtaba Hasan Zaidi

The author is a Chartered Management Accountant, and his interests include politics, playing guitar and tape ball cricket.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.