THIS is with reference to the report ‘Driving the wrong-way is violation in Karachi, 4,000 learn the hard way in lock-ups’ (June 20). It was good to learn that the police force has stepped up efforts to punish traffic violators. Unfortunately, the very small penalties will not deter the habitual law-breakers and some more visible punishment impacting the pocket as well as their image will have to be introduced to make roads in Karachi and other cities of Pakistan safer.
When the first martial law was promulgated in 1958, one observed an army jeep suddenly stopping at bus stops and a soldier with a stick directing people waiting for a bus to make a queue. This scenario was repeated all over the country for a few weeks and as a results people, as per my recollection, started getting into a queue automatically for at least the next 10 years.
Similarly, vehicles of persons driving on the wrong side were stopped and the driver was asked to get down on his knees and hold his ears. This was basically to shame the person, and it worked.
We need to reintroduce such relatively strong penalties not only for streamlining traffic, but in all aspects of life to put emphasis on discipline in the conduct of our lives if we want to progress as a nation.
We have often heard the lament that Pakistanis strictly follow the laws of other countries, but start taking liberties with law as soon as they land in Pakistan. This is primarily because of the poor accounta-bility and hardly any penalties on the law-breakers.
Citizens of other countries are not angels. Their behaviour is subconsciously tailored by the strong accountability and penalties in their respective countries, where visitors from Pakistan would have hardly ever observed people driving on the wrong side of the track.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2022