JANUARY 2022 marks the fourth anniversary of my non-existence. I was born in January 2018 to unwelcoming parents, the Sindh Excise and Taxation Department, who refused to give me a name or identity.

I was told that if 60 per cent children in Pakistan could do without registration till the age of five, there was no hurry for this measly 650cc miniature. I was unceremoniously booted out with two rusted tin plates scribbled with BLF-791 hung at my front and back. An advance fee of Rs1,000, whose disposal remains unknown, was duly extracted.

Some 200 years ago, horse-drawn carriages in the United Kingdom were required to display the number plates and have them painted with a different colour every year to indicate that the yearly tax had been paid. Both these sciences never made it to the province of Sindh.

Instead, speeches, slogans and shortcuts were adopted as the primary tools of governance. It is unfortunate that Rs40 million can be delivered overnight to a rich celebrity for treatment abroad, but not for creating a system that could manufacture a number plate in four years.

My owner is no longer disappointed or disturbed. He once again politely received the department’s well stamped letter stating, “Number plates not issued. Recheck on June 30, 2022”. Thoughtfully and pre-emptively, the letter also includes a prominent statement in capital letters: “SAY NO TO CORRUPTION”.

Car-owner (Naeem Sadiq)
Karachi

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2022

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