An announcement made by the City Traffic Police Lahore regarding the launch of a massive crackdown from September 1 on underage drivers can only be welcomed. In Lahore, roads are choked with traffic due to the presence of hundreds of bikes and cars. The city has been facing a traffic mess since long and the problem is aggravating day by day. Serious efforts as well as thoughtful planning are required to end traffic woes. Underage drivers riding vehicles and motorbikes pose a serious threat to not only their own life but other road users also. The statistics regarding traffic rules violations, accidents and arrests for indulging in wheelies portray a dismal picture. There is a lack of civic sense regarding traffic rules in general that has created a mess. Not only underage drivers but mature commuters never care about road safety rules. Every time one comes on the road, one needs to be extra cautious in order to save one’s life as well as others’. Bad driver behaviour is the main cause of road accidents. The concerned authorities need to educate people and pay more attention to the process of issuing driving licences. Nobody should be issued a driving licence unless he clears the test. Unfortunately, there is a lack of transparency as the traffic police mostly relies on paper work. A driving licence must be issued after testing the driving skills of the candidates.
There is another phenomenon regarding the behaviour of the guardians of thelaw. Those tasked with managing traffic on the roads take action against any violation of traffic rules by using their own discretion instead of following the law. It is up to a traffic warden how he decides in case he catches a violator of traffic rules. For different persons different rules are applied that means violators are treated according to their status in society. Other factors equally contribute to the traffic chaos in the city. There is a mushroom growth of vehicles due to increasing population and lack of urban planning. Traffic snarls up in most parts of the city due to encroachments and makeshift stalls on various roads. The plying of Chingchi rickshaws has worsened the situation. In order to solve this problem, the government, concerned authorities and the general public should act responsibly. The increasing number of private vehicles should be reduced and a comprehensive public transport system should be introduced. Heavy penalties and strict punishment should be awarded to the people who violate traffic rules without any discrimination.
Ever since Reham Khan got married to Imran Khan, she has constantly been in the public eye. Some of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) members have had reservations about her marriage to their leader. As Reham was actively involved in the campaigning for the NA-19 and NA-246, some factions of the party blame her for the PTI’s losses in those constituencies. The party has lost all of the seats that they were contesting in the recent by-elections, regardless of whether Reham was involved in them or not. Imran has released a series of somewhat annoyed tweets about the incident — castigating the accusations against his wife at first and then proceeding to ban her from politics and PTI-related events. He insisted that Reham accompanied him to Karachi to “get women out to vote” and then said that she would not be attending PTI events, contesting elections or playing a role in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the future. These contradictory messages show that Imran is more concerned about avoiding further strife amongst his party members than he is about the marginalisation of women in Pakistani society and their underrepresentation in government.
It seems that he is so desperate to salvage his public image, or what is left of it after his Dharna movement met a disgraceful end, that he would scapegoat his own wife just to save face with the media. From her decision to cover her head after her marriage to Imran Khan to her allegations of domestic violence against her ex-husband, all aspects of Reham’s life have been shamelessly scrutinised by the media. No one deserves to have their activities scandalised so relentlessly just for being married to a political figure. Contrary to Imran’s rhetoric from the container top and his tweets claiming that his party had mobilised women and the youth, he has shown himself to be a patriarchal husband who believes he has the right to forbid his wife from being politically active. Although it makes sense for IK to assert that he is “opposed to nepotism” and that his family members will not receive special privileges, the fact that he gave in to internal pressure so easily and took a drastic turn from denouncing the baseless allegations against Reham to banning her from politics does not reflect well on him. The legions of PTI fans that attended IK’s protests rallies have lost faith in the party after the judicial commission concluded that the allegations of systematic rigging in the 2013 general elections were unsupported by evidence. The PTI cannot convince the public that Reham is responsible for their losses in NA-19 and other constituencies. Since Reham represents the female demographic of the PTI, banning her from politics will not help the cause of empowering women and facilitating their involvement in politics.
Four attackers on two motorcycles ambushed and critically wounded Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) MNA Abdul Rashid Godil in Karachi on the morning of August 18. His driver was killed in the attack whereas his wife remained mercifully unharmed. Godil received five bullets from a nine mm pistol that apparently was never before used in any previous similar attack to make forensic tracing difficult. The attackers seemed to have excellent intelligence on Godil’s schedule and movements. The attack came while Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) was at the MQM’s nine zero headquarters for talks with the party’s leadership to try and woo them back to the Assemblies from which they had resigned en masse recently. The timing set off speculations whether the attack on Godil may have been meant to sabotage the talks, which seemed to be making progress. It may be recalled that the MQM had resigned from the Assemblies quoting a host of demands and concerns, the main one being their assertion that the Karachi operation by the Rangers was targeting the party alone. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, talking to the media after the incident, praised the MQM’s restrained response to the provocation, revealing that the MQM leadership would continue the talks in Islamabad in the next few days. What was notable indeed was the MQM’s restrained reaction to the attack on Godil, a senior leader and parliamentarian of the MQM, who had until Farooq Sattar took over, been the parliamentary leader of the party in the National Assembly. No claim of responsibility was available, nor were the police and investigating authorities clear on who might be behind the attack. Meanwhile Godil is still critical in hospital after emergency surgery, although the hopeful sign is that he is now off the ventilator the doctors had put him on because of breathing difficulties due to the bullet wounds in his chest. However, the doctors still say the next 24 hours are critical for the injured MQM parliamentarian.
While the attack on Godil is a serious blow to the claims of the authorities that peace has been by and large restored in Karachi due to the Rangers’ operation, the mystery of who and why they carried out the dastardly attack remains unsolved so far. There have been of course the usual outpourings of condemnations and sympathy across the board, but given the climate of tragedy after tragedy on Pakistan’s soil, including the assassination by a suicide bomber of Punjab Home Minister Colonel (retd) Shuja Khanzada the other day, these fail to satisfy or even apply any soothing balm to the country’s festering wounds. Although there is no claim of responsibility so far or even any clue about the suspects, it may bear keeping in mind that the al Qaeda chief in Karachi was killed earlier the same morning along with an accomplice in a shootout with the security forces that also took its toll of the life of a security agency officer. The operation was an intelligence-led effort. Whether there is any link between the taking out of the al Qaeda Karachi chief and the attack on Godil is not known. However, it is not beyond the realm of possibility. After all, who would be interested in sabotaging the talks to bring the MQM back to the Assemblies or attempting to destabilise Karachi? Normally, whoever carried out the attack on Godil would have expected, at the very least, a complete shutdown of Karachi, as has been the pattern of the MQM reaction to similar incidents in the past. Perhaps it is a mercy that the MQM is under pressure and has its hands full trying to cope with the Rangers’ operation in Karachi. Its restrained reaction and willingness to continue the dialogue with Maulana Fazlur Rehman may owe something at least to this factor. The nature of asymmetrical warfare is such that it relies on surprise, unexpected attacks in unexpected places and on unexpected targets. If under pressure by the army’s counter-insurgency operations in FATA, it is almost inevitable that the terrorists will seek to ease the pressure and put the authorities on the back foot by striking soft targets elsewhere throughout the country. The two attacks in recent days, the one that killed Khanzada and the one that critically wounded Godil, may well belong in this sphere. That only underlines the protracted and complex nature of the war against the terrorists, an enterprise that requires the forging of a united will of all the people and forces of Pakistan for this crucial task.