Another innocent Pakistani has died as the result of being in the way of a speeding diplomatic vehicle. Once again, it was a US Embassy car, meaning any moment now we will hear all hue and cry about how the heartless Americans do not care one whit for Pakistani lives. But we should ask ourselves if it is only the Americans who consider Pakistani lives to be so cheap. After all, is this man the only person killed by a speeding car in Pakistan?
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, there were 5,565 people reported killed in road traffic, and almost 13,000 others reported injured in 2007 alone. These are only reported deaths and injuries and only for one year, which means the actual body count is much higher.
These deaths are rarely if ever front page news, however. More often, if they are reported at all, it is in short reports published to fill the back pages. Reports like the eight killed in Badin that was barely more than a list of names of the dead.
The WHO report notes that there is legislation on the books already for speed limits, drink-diving, motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints. But as the WHO report also notes, these laws rarely apply to all occupants, and as anyone who actually lives here knows the laws are mere ‘ink on paper’, serving little purpose other than to give authorities the ability to tell international groups like the WHO that they are doing something.
But we all know better. Nobody is doing anything at all. Vehicle safety standards are nonexistent, road conditions are deplorable, and the driving culture practically begs for accidents. Let’s be honest, we love to complain about VVIP BPVs speeding through traffic, but we do the same, only without the police escort.
Ironically, the poor man who was killed yesterday was one of the lucky ones. Because his death came from an American diplomats car, he will be hailed as a Shaheed. The thousands of others who are killed on our streets? They were just in the way.