A customised green and white nine-seater auto-rickshaw equipped with an LCD screen, embellished with disco lights and other illuminations is indeed unique and something to be proud of. Therefore, the makers of the rickshaw deemed it fitting to name the ‘patriotic’ vehicle Fakhr-e-Pakistan (the Pride of Pakistan).
On the eve of Independence Day, one of the makers and owner of Fakhr-e-Pakistan flaunts his creation outside the entrance of the Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum in Karachi. “We have built this rickshaw to spread the message of love for Pakistan,” says a grinning Sahib Dad, a man in his late forties, who owns a rickshaw showroom.
His partner, Saifur Rehman, was inspired to build this rickshaw because of lackluster Independence Day celebrations. The day before the month of Ramazan began, Rehman went to buy national songs, but none of the shopkeepers in downtown Karachi had any to sell. “I was disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm for August 14 and decided to build this rickshaw to remind people of the love for our country,” he explains. This rickshaw will rave national songs across the city and revive patriotism and love in people’s hearts, describes Rehman.
He proves his point by pointing out to the desolate state of the Quaid-e-Azam’s mausoleum, a national monument and symbol of the achievements of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, on the eve of August 14. Only a few weary policemen and paramilitary personnel can be seen. “I get teary-eyed when I see this national monument deserted today. When I was young, hundreds of people would flock here to celebrate. But today, we stand divided and don’t even have time for our country.”
It took Saifur Rehman and Sahib Dad a month to make this green-and-white rickshaw, with its intricate neon-coloured truck art, painted patriotic slogans, steel plates embossed with the crescent and star, and giants flags hoisted atop. They have spent more than Rs150,000 on its trimmings attempting to give his message of love and patriotism. “Pakistanis should feel proud of their country where they are living freely,” says Rehman.
Rehman and Sahib Dad have driven the rickshaw throughout the city and will spend August 14 doing the same.
The response? “People make thumbs-up and victory signs when they see us on road!” say the proud owners of the ‘Pride of Pakistan’.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 14th, 2013.