We were six faculty members in our coaster, all stuck in the traffic jam at the University road for more than three hours amidst the sea of vehicles before we finally reached our destination, too late and exhausted to teach our students and decided to reschedule all morning classes for the week. In fact we were not the only ones who suffered, there were hundreds and thousands of Karachiites including students, professionals, businessmen and commoners; all men and women, young and old, healthy and sick, residents and tourists; who were unable to reach their workplaces, educational institutions and businesses from Dec 1 to 4, thanks to IDEAS 2014, the 8th biennial International Defence Exhibition and Seminar held at the Karachi Expo Center under strict security and VIP protocol.
Being a resident of Karachi, I have no status to say anything against the high-profile international conference branded with the baffling catchphrase `Arms for Peace’, and attracted as many as 88 delegations of 47 countries from across the world. Considering the serious security concerns and the sensitivity of the exhibits, organizers expectedly blocked the main university road, stadium road and other adjacent routes with containers throughout the four weekdays for the smooth execution of the event.
But what I can voice about is the plight of Karachiites. I am just wondering if our authorities; traffic police, local government and IDEAs’ organizers ever realized and concerned about how they contributed to make our lives more miserable. For the entire week, studies in universities, schools and colleges were badly affected so much so that we had to arrange make-up classes and exams. People were unable to catch their flights, reach their appointments and hospitals, fulfill their commitments and do their businesses and work in routine due to worst traffic jam and closure of commercial areas opposite to expo center and nearby localities because of the VVIP movement related to the event.
Though the alternative routes were identified for public convenience in some newspapers and one could also witness an increasing presence of traffic police on the roads of Karachi, nothing worked to manage the nilofer of the City Traffic in peak hours. Public anguish and anxiety were no one’s concern, but if Ideas 2014 is aiming to project Pakistan as a powerful, progressive state to the outside world, we must equally ensure in-house peace and solidarity.
As commoners, we have no choice but to give a humble suggestion to the concerned authorities and organizers since we can’t sue them for the damage they made to our lives. May we request next time, when arranged IDEAS 2015, kindly consider the safe havens such as headquarters of armed forces. Or else shift the Expo Center to a relatively remote location outside the city in order to avoid another traffic jam during such exhibitions which do no good to Karachiite but aggravate their plight