Pakistani drivers: A nation or a mob?

Published: September 30, 2014

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.

  • Grace

    As you can see from the dharna mentality we have in Pak, instead of patience and respecting order, Pakistani people still believe in mob rule. In this way, we are similar to the Arab states. I guess driving in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq will be similar to Pakistan because all states where there is mob rule will be same.Recommend

  • Patriot

    I completely agree with you. Its so frustrating driving around here in Pakistan, and it certainly depicts the thinking of the people at the wheel and the nation as a whole. Our nation drives the way they behave in their every day life which is, sadly to say, encroach or outright take away the rights of others. This is why they would cut right across you even when you have stopped for a traffic light! and would force you to give way to them when they are breaking the law and coming in the wrong direction. They drive the way they would walk on a street, if suddenly it comes to their mind to make a U turn on a busy road they would do so without a seconds hesitation no matter how it inconvenience a thousand other people.

    This is where the government comes in. All this can be fixed in a very short time if law is implemented strictly, many of these people who drive so recklessly over here are law abiding citizens in other civilized nations.Recommend

  • Parvez

    In most civilized societies where good governance is taken for granted, there are two things that shape and control matters like this………the law enforcement mechanism and the system that provides justice.
    In Pakistan both are almost nonexistent…………the upheaval and demonstrations we see happening is the cry for putting things right.Recommend

  • Yousuf Wasil

    Patience is something we seriously lack as a nation. How can we expect government to provide justice to the masses when we don’t have social justice even on a small intersection. I agree with the writer. We really need to change individually, let alone the government.Recommend

  • PostMan

    – Pakistan observes right hand driving system but the fast lane is on the left – because nobody moves from the fast lane.

    – Pakistani motorcyclist motto – Where there is hole, there is a way.Recommend

  • Shakeel

    It’s heartbreaking to see cars stopping onto the zebra crossing while the signal is red. At the same time walking pedestrian not using the signs right way.Recommend

  • iwonder

    People who drive this way, are 5% of this blog reader. Specially public transport drivers, cargo truck suzuki walay etcRecommend

  • Parvez

    …and my comment gets lost AGAIN… it because I tried to explain why its so and blamed the law enforcing agency and the judiciary who are responsible for ensuring discipline in a civilized society………before blaming the public.Recommend

  • someone

    Ditto situation in across the border. Majority of us need a heavy fines of thousands rupee to keep us in rein for next 10 years and then may be we’ll be disciplined enough to behave like civilized.Recommend

  • FAM | فہد | 法赫德

    There is desperation and frustration among drivers everywhere in the world, but in most countries they HAVE to follow laws of the road or face hefty fines and driving bans. The point is, if strict traffic laws are implemented, the traffic would be much much better!Recommend

  • guestblogger1

    well said. agree with you completely. It’s been a long time since I read a blog that hits it right on the dot. painful yet true. We, ourselves, are responsible for our woes – not the government. Government just reflects the mindset of society – we as a society are a mob, well pointed out.Recommend

  • Mir Taqi

    you spoke my mind … Karachi traffic is miserable and the people are responsible for it. No traffic police can control this irresponsible herd of driversRecommend

  • Humza

    No in most societies, people understand that good governance is never taken for granted. It is an ideal that takes many years to evolve and requires constant effort. It is only in Pakistan that people think that having a few rallies and chanting slogans to the music of a DJ will somehow replace hard work over many years within an imperfect system called democracy.Recommend

  • ihsan_ahmadi

    well yes but how long is this going to continue! staying indiduals yes we do alot and stand out wherever in the world we go but what happens to us when we are required to be counted as a nation.Muslims across the globe have one thing missing the need for being politically one unit despite the affilaiations and by that i mean standing tall and above all when it comes to national issues but that is elusive as the entity as a nation is evidently a missing commodity which as elusive as an oasis in the desertRecommend

  • Dr. Zafar Ullah

    After living in Denmark, Pakistani traffic seems like a Zoo after the animals have escaped.Recommend