Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Things that make one smile in Karachi

Published Jul 26, 2012 07:15am


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

traffic jam, karachi, cars, street
Photo by Eefa Khalid/

The headline itself would make many say that I am crazy. Or that it’s an oxymoron at best. But believe me when I tell you that I have seen things and experienced emotions that immediately bring your faith back and make you say yes, we Karachiites are human and not entirely Neanderthals from the Stone Age.

One of the few things that I hold in awe on the streets of Karachi is the traffic police — the men in white. Now wait a minute. We all know the reputation they enjoy: not really interested in regulating traffic but more interested in making a fast buck! But there’s a more human side to them as well. Managing traffic at busy intersections, ensuring that the flow continues, and that too whilst standing in the middle of a road where inconsiderate motorists don’t take their hands off the horn is no easy job.

Then there’s the vehicle exhaust and the inconsolable abuse that is vented in their direction.

Yet we see them in weather hot and humid, cold and rainy, making sure that things keep smooth and running. Even when there is a political rally in progress, these are the guys who keep the alternative routes open and free. But the best that we see of these traffic police officers is during the month of Ramazan. Take, for example, the busy intersections of Shaheen Complex and PIDC.

The traffic flow in the hours leading up to iftar is such that most people appear to have gone berserk. However, some semblance of order is maintained only due to the efforts of the traffic police. Otherwise, we know where there aren’t any traffic constables, most of us start looking for a short cut. In the absence of any voluntary civic order on our streets, it is the men in white who help a mother and her children, the elderly and schoolchildren cross the roads. However, at times more considerate drivers do stop their cars to allow the waiting pedestrians to cross.

Of course manners are something that we aren’t famous for. Giving way to someone else is definitely looked down upon. But every once in a while, someone comes and does show a bit of patience. And it’s even more astounding if the car has a government number plate.

karachi, sea, clifton
Photo by Eefa Khalid/

Whilst crossing an intersection at the Sea View road, I noticed a government car approach from the opposite direction. I stopped, expecting the gentleman to speed off, without giving a hoot for the people on the road. But shockingly, the ‘GP’ number plate sedan stopped and dipped its headlights in a signal to me that I could pass before him. A jaw-dropping experience indeed.

Karachi is a diverse city and people tend to live in their own hamlets. On the roads, though people usually display their worst behaviour, sometimes motorists can astound by resorting to unexpected civility. It’s all something that makes one smile and thank God that yes, some humanity still exists in us.—Atifuddin Khan


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

Comments (24) Closed

Fatima Jul 26, 2012 05:36pm
very nice written
Razzaq Jul 26, 2012 07:33pm
The designed conspiracies against Karachi will never stop because of Karachi and it's people are what the writer has described but it has never been and will never be acceptable to elements who do not belong to this unfortunate city,but never fail to make a claim for their stake in it with out even owning it.
Shakil Jul 26, 2012 01:55pm
Karachi needs to be declared "Politics Free Zone" Everything will be back to 1970s.
Adnan Jul 26, 2012 09:53am
Bhatta khori is on the peak now a days.
Gerry D'Cunha Jul 26, 2012 09:53am
Ahmed Jumma - I fully agree with your comments for the Karachiites. No matter what faith you belong to, Karachiites are always ahead in helping. Its some jealious elements who do not want Karachiites to be happy and live in peace. I wish and pray my/our Karachi once again is known as the 'City of Light and peace' I LOVE MY KARACHI
Khalid Jul 26, 2012 06:50pm
Dear Gerry, couldn't have put it better myself. Having lived in England and away from our beloved Karachi for 25 years, i still miss it terribly. I love my Karachi too....
Iqbal Ali Jul 27, 2012 05:04am
Rest of the world is very different from Pakistan.
Waqar Saleem Jul 26, 2012 12:07pm
It is a sad state of affairs when people are appreciated for displaying what is considered normal civil behavior in much of the rest of the world.
G.a Jul 26, 2012 11:55am
Police have a bad reputation. But it can change very easily if citizens step in to help them with their daily needs like helping their childrens schooling or providing meals and clothing. They are very poor and do put their lives on the line every day. Help them and they will help the people.
Karachi Wala Jul 27, 2012 10:26am
After reading this article and sentiments of some comments, especially from those who have left Karachi in good times, one feels nothing but nostalgic. If any of them visits Karachi now, he/she will be writing a piece for DAWN with the following heading: "Things that make one cry in Karachi". And trust me there will be MANY.
Ather Jul 27, 2012 07:27am
@Atifuddin Khan: it would have been an excellent article had it not ended abruptly. About the GP number plated car being generous , i will believe when i see it. keep writing.
Owais Jul 26, 2012 06:04pm
thankx for giving the positive picture of Our traffic police officers.............
d.m. Jul 26, 2012 07:36pm
what is bhatta khori?
anony Jul 26, 2012 08:43pm
I love Karachi. Being in the US for the past 5 years, I miss my homeland alot and can testify that karachiites are the best and most humble people ever. Its the politicians that give us a bad name everywhere around the world which is a shame. I still remember my days of playing cricket, going to school/college, hangin out with friends and best of all, New years eve at seaview :)
Taxla Jul 26, 2012 04:08pm
I'm saddened by the statement that Karachi Traffic Cops are very poor and need handouts from general public to make ends meat and their children have little or no schooling available to them. Traffic cops are very important to keep people and goods moving in an orderly manner and no doubt that also saves accidents and lives. I suggest their wages should doubled to what they earn today so they too can live half a decent life after all Government spend millions on many schemes with zero results to show for.
ahmed Jul 26, 2012 09:55pm
Things are going down the drain in Karachi and Pakistan. I have seen consistent decline year after year when I visit Karachi since 1974.
Qulik Jul 26, 2012 10:33pm
Thats very nice touch Good for you Karachi
malik11397 Jul 27, 2012 12:08am
The thing which can bring joy for Karachi is love, affection for everyone including the current residents and new one. Karachi is for everyone, and no single community or ethnicity has any rights about it. You must see NY Times article today and a picture where a hijabi women is passing by some Eastern European sitting on a bench. That is called melting pot of every nationality. Karachi should be banda-parwar city (khuda-taras), a fear of Allah and love for everyone. You can boldly enter into some other ethnicity and its geographical boundaries. The city government of Karachi should reflect every ethnicity and it should not only be bilingual but multilingual and respect for each other religious believes. That alone would bring joy on everyone's face. Come on Karachi-walo, you can do it. Your gori ethnic murders, your religious killing hangs our heads in shame. Get over with your petty hatred now.
AK_NJ Jul 27, 2012 01:20am
Karachi is the heart of Pakistan. People from every ethnicity and religion live there and thrive. The highest percentage of education in Pakistan and the diversity leads to truly amazing metropolitan melting pot where with a few minutes you can go from Defense to Korangi, two completely different worlds. No matter how much the politicians, mullahs, wadera, and mafias try to destroy it, Karachiites rise again and again and again. Rising the country’s economy with them.
ermughan Jul 27, 2012 04:44am
The thing is that the "Unwan" of this article should be the "Unwan" of a series of articles.... "Things that make one smile in Karachi"
Naeem Qureshi Jul 26, 2012 02:26pm
It is heart warming to see the traffic police doing their job in such intense heat and for very little money. What is person suppose to do when one doesn't have the money to feed the children or send them to school. Would you ot take a bribe if you were in this situation. We need to appreciate the work of the traffic police. The pay of there hard working police personnel need to be increased so they are not tempted to accept bribes. I personally had experience dealing with Motorway police. My driver was caught speeding. He had to pay the required fine even though we tried hard to bribe the policeman.
Aizaz Moin Jul 27, 2012 09:39am
Yeah me too
T. Syed Jul 26, 2012 01:21pm
I agree that yes we still have people among us who are considerate and civilized. I have all the symathies with our police officers. Before criticizing, lets analyze their working conditions, their facilties, training, equipment and so on. They are working in of one very high risk areas of the region for sure. What this govt. is doing for the police force who offers protection to the politicians and officials? The poor traffic policemen inhale very unhealthy air everyday, work in high pollution areas and have deal with a general thankless attitude. May God help and guide us all in the blessed month of Ramazan.
Ahmed Jumma Jul 26, 2012 09:04am
By the grace of Allah Almighty the citizens of Karachi are very sincere to everybody, whatever the catastrophe is there in the country, the Karachiites are always ahead in helping. Police in white uniform should be offered cold water by the motorist and should have sympathy with them after all the are our brothers. They should also be offered food as well so that we can create a beatiful culture, the forgotten one.