KARACHI: It is estimated that in Karachi alone, some 300,000 vehicles go around using illegal number plates of various shades. Most impersonate government vehicles by using plates with green backgrounds and “Govt of Sindh” written on them. This gives them the licence to violate traffic rules and access secure areas without being questioned by the police. There are also those who use VIP-looking, fancy and self-projecting number plates, carrying either a family name or a fake number. These vehicles have never been registered, pay no taxes, violate traffic laws and frequently indulge in crimes. The police are too timid to check, as their owners largely come from the same class that also rules the country. There are yet other law-breakers who carry no number plates on their vehicles at all. These belong to the highest in power and authority — or simply top of the line crooks.
Any ordinary citizen can use his phone to log on to the website of the Excise and Taxation (E&T) department to identify if a vehicle is registered or not as well as the nature of ownership — private or government. The provincial police regretfully have not developed even this basic capability. The government departments such as E&T and police, responsible for curbing these crimes, remain confined to their narrow territorial mandates — leaving an open space to criminals to operate freely. How come the National Action Plan at the federal level and the police in the provinces remain so utterly indifferent and apathetic about thousands of vehicles that blatantly indulge in crime and lawlessness? There is something seriously wrong with a state engaged in fighting a war against terror but unwilling to check what could be easily detected by any layperson.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2016.