We as a people don’t deserve luxuries like Careem and Uber

Published: March 18, 2018

The fact that two Careem captains died on duty should be enough to awaken a sense of empathy or humanity in us.

Like any 20-something girl who doesn’t know how to drive, my best friends, and the most reliable services, are Careem and Uber. Both cab-hailing services have, to date, taken me everywhere I wanted to go and back, and the ride is always on my terms. The AC-filled car with the radio cranked up is truly a blessing, compared to the rickshaw ride I’d be jolting up and down in otherwise.

More often than not, I’d order a Careem, only to have the riders call me back to confirm where I’d be going, always with a hint of worry.

“Just here in Defence,” I’d say, irritated at the question.

How can a cab-hailing service deny me a ride anywhere? I could’ve said Hyderabad, and they would have had to comply, because customer comes first, right?


Since the start of 2018, two Careem captains have been killed, and their cars snatched. In the first killing, 26-year-old Junaid Mustafa lost his life just outside the federal capital, and much to my surprise, it was the men who ordered the ride who lured him to the outskirts where he eventually died. The other killing, of 22-year-old Sajawal Ameer, took place several days ago, and it is speculated he was also killed by the customers he was giving a ride to within Rawalpindi.

Two 20-somethings just like me, one significantly younger than me, are now dead; both targeted by the horrors of society without any reason or explanation. Both vanished from the surface of the earth, only to be remembered in prayers by family members. These people, no matter where they’re from or what their financial needs or problems may be, are not slaves to a company.

I recently discovered that if a Careem captain refuses up to three rides in a week, the fourth refusal will lead to a fine and a costly inspection of the car. The day Mustafa was killed, Careem captains of all day and ages gathered to protest against this.

Why is it that we have the option to cancel as many rides as we want – if the car isn’t up to our preference, if the driver is too far away, or if we are simply in a hurry – but the Careem captains are not given the same privilege? Why do they not have the free will to also assess whether they want to pick a particular ride or not? Why are we further tightening the shackles of capitalism in the country? The company might be aiming for maximum profitability, but at what cost?

This is where Careem is at fault. How is it possible that even after the first death, the company didn’t immediately reflect on their procedures, and failed to cook up a comprehensive plan to avoid such incidents in the future? How is it that in a span of one month, two captains were killed without any immediate plan of action?

Perhaps Careem can make their screening processes more stringent for users. Perhaps their captain-protection plan should be more crisis-management oriented. They could even give their drivers more freedom to cancel, or opt out of more rides.

But then again, if they were to do that, who’s to say the drivers won’t take advantage of it? Who’s to say an angered mob of users won’t show up at the Careem office, demanding explanations for cancelled rides? You see, there’s only so much Careem can do. The drivers are bound to abuse that service; the people are bound to abuse this service. This is a vicious cycle which will never end. So what do we do?

Blame the government!

How is it that the federal capital, the twin-cities, the most secure and protected areas of the country, the main hub of foreign and national activity, are so unsecure? What about the thousands of check posts and hoards of police vans racing from area to area? Where were they when these incidents happened? Why did the judiciary, the police, or even the government, not notice? These days everyone notices everything in a microsecond, but apparently, not this.

Even after the Faizabad protest and sit-in, the government did not have a comprehensive plan to combat law and order situations. How is it that people can come up with new and innovative ideas to snatch cars and kill people by ordering rides through an app, but the government can’t come up with a plan to combat this?

Where are all our ministers appointed to ensure the end of all our problems? Were those two young men not their responsibility as well? Evidently, the government is all talk and no action. People lose their lives every day, and what have they done? What are they doing?

However, you can blame the company and the government all you want. But let me tell you whose fault it really is – ours.

It is not an easy task to be a chauffeur, especially in Pakistan, where a “driver” culture exists. Our distinctions of social class and power have instilled a uniquely dangerous hierarchy in our heads, where domestic help and drivers belong to the lower tiers. They are to be at our beck and call, and are never supposed to refuse or ask too many questions.

Often, I’ve heard people complain about how chatty their drivers are, how they don’t know how to use the GPS navigation system, and how they are still new to the roads and consistently ask for directions. My question is: Why does this bother us so much? Have we all become so insensitive and out of touch with humanity that we don’t recognise the plight other people go through in their daily lives?

The fact that two Careem captains died on duty – scaring and scarring drivers all over the country, who now fear for their lives – should be enough to awaken a sense of empathy or humanity in us.

We, as a people, don’t deserve amenities and luxuries such as this. Even if 80% of us use this service for its true purpose, there will always be the 20% who utilise it for horror. For a good two years, everything was hunky-dory, nobody complained, and everybody sang praises. This means the problem isn’t in the company, and the fault doesn’t lie with the two innocent people who agreed to the ride leading to their death. It is the people who have been given this luxury. It’s our fault.

We don’t deserve such luxuries, because all we can do is potentially damn them for ourselves. The people of the country have no control, and will go to whatever ends for personal gains.

Warda Imran

Warda Imran

The author is an aspiring journalist and intersectional feminist. She aims on traveling the world, loves film analysis, comics, and commenting on social issues. She tweets @wisheikh (twitter.com/wisheikh)

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

  • syed hassan haseeb

    The company should get the insurance of all its drivers, not less then 10 lakh plus hospital expense. As soon as the client sits in cab he should be photo graphed. Emergency switch in the cab should be to inform his office if he smells foul play. I think this will help.Recommend

  • Yousaf Haque

    The company did not react at the deaths (in line of duty) of two consecutive young and precious lives because human life in the eyes of our part of world is valuelessRecommend

  • Saif Ali

    It’s quite clear that your logic is flawed as you are blaming the entire people of a country for the mistake of a few bad apples. No country in the world only has good people,therefore it the job of the police and the govt to protect its citizens from criminals. The people of Pakistan do deserve ride hailing services just as they deserve social media and the internet yet by your logic since that is also used for crimes like false blasphemy etc, that too is not for the people of Pakistan. Its very simple and clear the fault lies with our govt and police system as other countries in the world such as dubai have focused on ensuring their citizens safety which is why they don’t face such problems. Whereas in our country safety and peace of mind is solely the right of politicians, govt employees and armed forces. For things to ever get better in Pakistan our whole system of governance from top to bottom needs a drastic overhaul and for the people we elect to actually care about our lives instead of their bank statements. The reason our so called leaders are in such a position of power and luxury is because of us, i.e. Our votes our taxes. InshAllah may Allah bless this country of ours with better leadership and the voters with more common sense so that they may realize that we have the right and power to choose our leaders but have the moral responsibility to choose the correct ones.
    DISCLAIMER: This post in no way endorses any political parties or institutions of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Saman

    Why don’t we deserve anything. The company should have been more Pro active , the fault unfortunately lies lies there . Years ago we came up with a rider services idea which was denied on a simple notion, security. This is the first and basic question both Careem and Uber should have answers forRecommend

  • Nisar Alvi

    Ahsan Iqbal, the federal minister should sort it out. He won’t because he serves only Nawaz Sharif.Recommend

  • M. Anwar Qureshi

    Excellent article thought provoking for Careem Management also. Captains may be given an option to refuse ride if they see the passengers of dubious character; their cars may be fitted with automatic cameras to photograph passengers and store it on data base; passengers calling for ride appointment, their cell numbers and NIC should be automatically stored on the Careem Data Base. Recommend

  • Root Cause

    In India,
    Customer search for cab in that locality through company’s app.
    Messege is initiated to company which in turn signals to cab drivers in that area who are on green channel
    If a driver is willing to carry the passenger to his destination, he can simply accept the call from the company and his number (mobile and car) are sent to customer.
    Whereas customer requesting such cab must be registered user and capable of making online payment. In this way, he can be tracked and traced through financial dot. Nowadays cabs in Delhi are also using CCTV in car but this is being done to protect customers.Recommend

  • Badar

    Love this article , finally someone raised voice . There should be a camera inside cab to take picture and upload immediately to careem server . Basic and easy step to get securedRecommend

  • Kasturi K

    Are we an evil at heart nation? Looks like, the way we misuse every blessing. Now don’t blame it on gov or Nawaz sharif, the fault lies somewhere else. These young fellows were earning their livelihood through legal means and some dark soul decided to earn his livelihood through illegal means without remorse. May the murderers rot in this world and hereafter, Ameen.Recommend

  • Alam

    What a preposterous headline! Crimes happen all over the world… instead of saying things like ‘we don’t deserve’, ask for better investigation. This self pity and self hatred is very alarming to say the least!Recommend

  • Adnan Kashif Unar

    She is entitled to her opinion, just as you are. It’s more critique than self pity.Recommend

  • najeeb ullah

    There is need to tailor the service keeping in view the PEST situation of Pakistan. As now most of sim card is after getting biodata, there is need to make sure that CNIC copy sent to the CAREEM through online/whatsapp and the phone number on whom name the number is registered is same as well the camera system should be installed. nothing wrong with the service, just that we have to customize service according to country.Recommend

  • Leonard Harrison

    Another article which aims just to show the world how the people of this country are dangerous lunatics. The irony is that the article is published under “Welcome to Pakistan” heading. As usual, the article is full of criticism and presents NO solutions. It is not surprising that solutions are being offered by people in comments because the writer seems intent on telling the world how monstrous Pakistanis are and does not care if this problem can be solved. Is that the best you can do? Scathing and contemptuous criticism instead of problem-solving is the main reason Pakistan is suffering on so many different levels.Recommend

  • Khurram

    As you said your self; leadership is selected by the people so, fault lies among us, since because, we as people help them come to power in the first place and one thing more you need to remember; God does not help those who do not ask for it and we as a nation have blacked our hearts too much to give him a place in it. I think this article should open an eye opener for us all and let us think upon our ways and correct them.
    As for common sense? Just stand in a line, travel in a public bus, traffic signal and you shall know to what arcane levels of inhumanity we have sunk. We think that we are always right and barge in on other people’s turn. With that level of our brains, I think we either need a good beating or a sentence to lock up till we realize our wrongs.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    This is sad. Two young men lost life for making a living in respectful and dignified way. I hope that police catches the culprits as soon as possible.Recommend

  • timsiddiqui

    It’s inevitable that Uber and Caream will make ordering a car a bit more restrained.
    Even a food delivery service is a bit more concerned for their food and driver against bogus orders.
    The ride share companies will have to require some kind of registration system in advance to order service.
    However nothing deters crime better than rule of law.Recommend

  • Phantom

    “We as a people dont deserve”
    Stop…please just stop right there.
    I get it. People died. Terrible. Need for improvement.
    But this self-hate and third world inferiority complex is not the answer.

    Because, honestly, if this is the attitude you are going to look at things with, then quite frankly, no country in the world deserves these services.
    A simple google search will reveal how uber drivers in first world countries like the US get scammed and murdered as well.
    Also, your claim about how 20% of us use this service for its horrific criminal exploitation potential is also exaggerated. If this were true, every one in 5 rides would result in a criminal activity.

    Now before you think I am trying to condone or normalize this behavior, I am not. I think you put some good suggestions on how improvements can be made. But you stopped short of pinning the core blame on the government and instead pinned it on the people.
    I strongly disagree. We have a very corrupt and ineffective police force. I say this after having first hand experience in dealing with our police on three separate occasions (phone theft, car theft, home burglary. I know I’ve been through a lot).
    And on each occasion I left with a strong feeling about just how much the police are not interested in helping me at all.
    And the core blame for this lies squarely with the government.Recommend

  • Shiraz Durrani

    Very well saidRecommend

  • Shiraz Durrani

    Who will insure killers?Recommend

  • Sane

    Please don’t expect anything from govt. or any minister/officer of govt. They are busy in ‘Mujhay Kiyoon Nikala’ syndrome and trying to find ways to protect their looted money.Recommend

  • sterry

    There are more Uber. Lyft and ride sharing crimes in North America and Europe. I guess they don’t deserve these services either – you want it to be banned everywhere or do you do just want it better regulated with everyone having a tracker? Your heading makes no sense since killing of drivers happens all over the world but we can’t stop crimes in Pakistan with the drives which are less than in US.Recommend

  • Ali S

    The role of taxi/transport mafia should also be fully explored and all Careem cars should be insured.Recommend

  • gp65

    In US, you have to have a registered credit/debit card to be able to hail Uber/Lyft. Thus, the killers (if it is customers that killed the drivers) are traceable.

    Secondly, please provide a credible reference for “There are more Uber. Lyft and ride sharing crimes in North America and Europe.

  • Aftab

    The rider should be register by the NIC not by the phone number because there are many rider request with the foreign mobile number. This should be a security step taken by UBER and Careem. Everyone in Pakistan own several SIM but they have 1 NIC.
    Please implement this as soon as possible.

  • Saif Ali

    its true what you say that the people of pakistan have sunk into depravity and a new low that has never existed here. INshAllah our dear nation will survive and once again thrive by rooting out these foul elements that have corrupted our society.However, i must stick to my point that it makes no to close an invaluable service like careem just because of a few bad apples that can be caught and prevented from conducting such heinous acts in the future . I really like careem and am glad to see Pakistan advancing with the world so the article really stings. It should be focusing on the police and govt’s inability to perform their job which is securing the civilian population not that the poor population already crushed by corrupt politicians, police and generally everybody now also does not deserve fair and comfortable transport LOL Recommend