If you want to survive in Pakistan, don’t stop at the red light!

Published: June 9, 2017

I was surprised to learn that he was a graduate with a degree in law!

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!

Shakir Lakhani

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)

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

  • Truth

    Why did you pay for the damage as your car was hit in the rear. It’s the mistake of the person behind for not maintaining appropriate distance from your car.Recommend

  • meir

    I think this is made up story..Recommend

  • Parvez

    One side of my mind said utterly ridiculous…..and the other side said very believable……and I suppose that’s what good satire is all about.Recommend

  • sato fernando

    Very funny truth to readRecommend

  • محمد اقبال

    lol you looks like an indian!!!Recommend

  • kp

    you was asked by a traffic policeman to not to stop at red light? tell me this is not a satire.Recommend

  • Ijaz Mir

    My personal experience this year I visited Karachi Pakistan at old sabreen choke I stopped at red light, a bearded policeman came took my Id card gave me a slip and walked away to retrieve my Id card I paid Rs 1000 plus my wasted time.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Really? …With your complexion,
    you can easily pass for a Maori. Or an Australian.
    Native Australian.
    Shah Rukh Khan, Amir Khan, Salman Khan, Irrfan Khan,
    Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Deepika Padukone, Sonakshi Sinha,
    Nargis, Sonam Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Rani Mukerjee, Kajol [!!]
    Bobby Deol, Shahid Kapoor…and Amitabh Bachchan are also Indians.Recommend

  • Sane

    We blame corrupt govt., faulty system for all ills in this country. Basically everyone in this country is corrupt in his/her capacity. We do corruption as per power we have. A common person has power only to break traffic signal, so he/she does. If same person gets more power, will break other laws and do more corruption. Individual represent society, we are part of corrupt society. A fruit, vegetable, milk, meat and other vendors are also common people, tell how many of them are not corrupt. A govt. employee of lower grade, policemen, labor and all and from every walk of life are ready for corruption in their capacity and power. Then why to cry. Corruption and breaking law is a norm of the society.Recommend

  • Sane

    Mr. Shakir Lakhani: You are correct; if you live fair in unfair society, you are at fault. Do like Romans do. Otherwise don’t live in Rome.Recommend

  • Patwari

    But,..er,…hmm,….see, the blogger,…well,..strange,..and hard to believe….
    The blogger wrote in a previous blog said that he has a “DRIVER” !!
    He even asked the driver what will you do with the extra Rs.15,000 you
    will receive this month for Eid. [apparently the driver’s salary is 15,000 per month. Which is minimum wage in Land of the Pure]
    The driver said he will pay off a loan.
    So what was the blogger doing driving his own car????
    When the traffic police see car driven by a driver and the ‘sarkar’ sitting
    in the back, perusing a newspaper or jawing on the cell phone, they will
    let the car go by. No need to take a chance…could be a govt. official.
    who will get transferred next day to jail duty.Recommend

  • Sane

    Oh! you are full of hate against Karachites. By the way, more than 50% of Karachi population is from other provinces of Pakistan. Don’t try to undermine or underrate people of Karachi.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Doubt it very much your tent is pitched in LaHoor, Province
    of Poonjab. Land of 5 rivers, with 15 million children out of
    school. Where little Shabaz the Sharif, rides his bicycle at
    night making sure all widows and orphans are safe and sound
    and all the traffic lights are working.
    Karachi keeps the country running, it’s the financial hub. Though
    the money is looted and sent off shore by thugs who live in LaHoor.
    If Karachi becomes a separate province, then the thugs and chors
    LaHoor will move to Karachi.Recommend

  • Shakir Lakhani

    You have never heard of a driver being sick, or being absent for any reason?Recommend