To get stuck in traffic in Karachi for hours because a VVIP has to pass by, in all their shining protocol splendor, is no novelty to us poor Pakistani citizens. It has become common tradition, and yet, we fail to take any concrete action to change that. While frustration and anger at the VVIP movement becomes an inevitable result, recent events saw a much dire consequence.
When a baby girl died at the Civil Hospital due to a delay in medical care, which was caused by a roadblock for the PPP chaiperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as he too, was visiting the Civil Hospital, the Pakistani nation saw, much clearly, what an atrocity the VIP culture in reality is. The tragic incident death sparked outrage amongst the people of the country, with many taking to social media to express it.
But all hope isn’t lost for us. On the morning of 28th December, 2015, when traffic was once again blocked for an important personality to pass near Defence Library, people did not keep quiet. Led by Muhammad Zain Awan, who later related this incident on social media with details, the people on the signal started honking horns in protest of the delay. After he started honking his bike’s horn, despite the traffic sergeant’s warning (with a stick) against it, people followed suit.
The sergeant then hit him again on his thigh, and broke his phone’s screen. In a following exchange where he spoke to the sergeant against the VIP culture, the other people present too started to gather and speak against it. It seemed like his initiative was all the crowd needed to stand up for themselves!
In an interesting turn of events, traffic was opened for the people after they began shouting and the ‘important’ personality had to pass by WITH the traffic, like all citizens should, and do.
The activist society, ‘No To VIP Culture’, that had earlier, on Sunday, held a campaign against the Bilawal incident and had handed out stickers to people, posted this on FaceBook;
Moreover, the sergeant also apologized to Mr. Awan for his cellphone, saying that he was bound by his duty. It begs the question; so many people around us understand the implications of this abominable VIP culture, why is it that none of us ever raise a voice? If I too, were stuck in such a road block, I probably wouldn’t get out and protest against it.
But this incident should stand exemplary for all of us who passively wait for hours in those traffic blocks thinking our efforts or protest will be futile, at best. Often, we’re all just waiting for someone to take the first step, so we can follow in their steps. Given the law and order situations, such reservations are of course, understandable. But it is imperative that WE become the ones who shout out their opposition first, if we are to change our socio-political reality. The sergeant’s line, as quoted by Mr. Awan, “Itni awaam kay agay me kuch nai kar sakta” (I can’t do anything in front of a crowd this big) exhibits the power of united action. Action that we need to take NOW.
Honking horns in unison, for example, or gathering a group, however small, to speak to the traffic controller against the issue, are common steps that all of us easily can and should take to rid ourselves of the issue.
Let’s not be afraid to stand up for our rights, and let’s take charge of our country.