KARACHI: The recent drive against illegal and fancy number plates was a good step by the police, Rangers and responsible members of civil society — at least in theory. Though many official vehicles belonging to government officers and a few members of parliament were checked and impounded, this drive is already failing. Being a witness to this sort of snap check, I have some criticism as well as some suggestions.
In District South, most snap checkpoints were established on major roads of DHA, like Khayaban-e-Shamsheer. Quite conveniently, these are set up in such a way that there was always a major road crossing prior to the checkpost. And that works as an escape route for some who make an easy detour. I personally have seen many drivers of tinted SUVs, fancy number plates and gun-toting guards sitting in the rear of their vehicles, make a sudden diversion before the checkpoint on Khayaban-e-Shamsheer became a snap checkpoint.
Secondly, it is amazing to see that cars belonging to senior officials sometimes have no number plates at all and they are escorted by the pilot as well. One such vehicle is a black Camry with no number plate and is always accompanied by a police escort. Another one is a black Prado Landcruiser, which is led by a pilot and followed by many police and Rangers vehicles. If these VVIPS are above the law and the same LEAs are protecting them, then the police and Rangers have no right to question the owner of any other vehicle without a number plate. Such officers should be punished and their vehicles confiscated.
The CPLC, police, Rangers and members of civil society should establish a safe helpline where citizens can anonymously report illegal licence plates, as well as shady vehicles in their areas. As long as the people in power consider themselves to be above the law, they should not expect the public to start following it any time soon.
Dr Jahanzeb Effendi
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2013.
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