The carnage on the roads of Karachi exceeds that caused by terrorism by a considerable margin, with over 1,000 people dying every year. Hitherto, there has been no investigation of these fatal accidents, and it is reported that not a single person has been indicted in a road traffic accident case since 1995. The district police claim that they have no time to investigate these accidents and the general public seems prepared to simply accept this level of fatality as part of fate — ignoring the fact that in at least some cases, people have been unlawfully killed by careless or reckless driving.
This lamentable state of affairs may be about to change. There is to be a separation of the traffic police and the district police and the two are no longer to share a workplace. The traffic police in the South district of Karachi have been allowed to set up their own station as a pilot project. They will be able to lodge FIRs, if appropriate, when an accident occurs, keep in custody those who have violated traffic legislation and present them in the courts. Currently, the efforts of the traffic police are frustrated by the district police to whom traffic violators are handed. The violators then pay a bribe to the district police who promptly let them go and they walk away, their possible offences not investigated and potential crimes unpunished. Standards of both behaviour and driving on the roads of Pakistan are generally abysmal, with multiple-fatal accidents happening somewhere in the country every day. One would search in vain to find any reports of prosecution. If this new initiative gets criminals in the courts, then all well and good, but South Karachi has seen too many worthy projects come and then fall by the wayside. This is going to need resources and political support, as well as a group of police who buck the trend and are (mostly) free of corruption — a formidable task in itself. We wish this proposal well, and hope for safer roads for all.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2015.
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