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The plight of Chitrali passengers

The looting of Chitrali passengers near Charsadda en route from Peshawar to Chitral is the result of the indifference of our elected representatives towards their subjects. It also shows the inefficiency of the district administration, including the traffic police, the stupidity of the driver and the management who issued tickets for Chitral in various adas in Peshawar. Loss of a million rupees may not be a large amount for MNA Iftikharuddin, MPAs Salim Khan and Sardar Hussain, but it counts a lot for the ordinary Chitralis who shed their toils and blood to save each penny. I can justifiably argue that all the aforementioned stakeholders were the unwitting accomplice in the mishap. I hold the robbers only 50% responsible for the whole episode and the remaining 50% can be attributed to all the stakeholders mentioned in the outset. Can anyone ask the MNA that had he ever visited (once in his life) the spot where Chitralis embark on a highace to Chitral? Succinctly, no is the answer. The MNA has never ever visited the ada and experienced the perilous plight of Chitralis in the hands of Chitrali ticket-givers and Pashtoon drivers. Salim Khan had remained a co-passenger with poor Chitralis during his student life but after coming into politics and winning seats in various capacities he has also forgotten the routes along with the sufferings in Charsadda ada, Haji Camp adda, Mayoon and Hardian Coach adda. Mr. Sardar Hussain, like sheikh Rashid of Lal Haveli claims to be an MPA who started his politics from bus adas and other very grassroots level social gatherings. In his first speech at the provincial assembly hall, he spoke vehemently that he was an ordinary citizen (perhaps like the ones plundered in Charsadda), came right from bus adas and marketplaces. The intention of his speech was to emphasize that he was the real representative of the people and acquired the seat only through transparent public support without any support of the contractors mafia. If it is true that he had come from the grassroots level support like ada, had he ever been to Charsadda ada where Chitrali take hiace to Chitral? If he had not been there, his assembly speech was a white lie. If he had been there, has he seen the plight of Chitrali passengers? And what he did to check the exploitation of Chitrali passengers in the hands of the Chitrali ticket-givers and the Pathan drivers? It is the responsibility of the elected representatives to facilitate and reduce the sufferings of the public. But it is irony that none of our elected representatives (past and present) had the determination to take measures against the exploitation of Chitrali passengers en route to Chitral on hiaces. The continuing exploitation of passengers in Peshawar adas speak volumes of the indifference of our elected leaderships. The strongman slumbering in the DC house never care to check the condition of coaches coming from Peshawar. Even the life of passengers on the coach is in jeopardy due to the tremendous load they carry. The drivers in connivance with the ticket-givers load the coaches in such a way that the luggage in the ‘jangla’ exceeds the size of the coach itself, inviting a serious traffic accident at anytime. Posing continuous danger to passengers lives these coaches enter Chitral. No traffic check and balance is there to ask the drivers about such a huge loading. Here the incapability of the passengers also comes to the forefront. Why don’t they collectively protest against such irrational and stupid loading practices? The other day, I went to Charsadda adda to bid a farewell to a relative of mine on his way to Chitral. I was helpless to see two motorcycles, Honda-125 tied with a rope in the ‘jungla ’of a hiace. To secure more money and putting the lives of passengers to an imminent danger, the driver loaded maunds of other luggage on top as well. The driver was a Chitrali. When I asked him that is it not dangerous to load such a huge burden while a stiff Lowari is ahead? His response was a cold smile and the phrase “Sahi Sher Wa Yar.” The ‘jangla’ (roof of the vehicle) is not designed to carry a motorbike or maunds of load. It’s designed to hold only handbags and a few other light items of the passengers. Both the drivers and the passengers are culprit, why don’t they consign their heavy items like motorbikes to a truck driver, who can deliver it safely in Chitral? Why the drivers accept such a heavy load? Is their lives and that of the passengers are less worthy than few rupees? Alongside the stupid overloading practice, passengers are faced with many other problems. The narrow seats which could hardly accommodate three persons are filled with four, consequently, the 10 hours journey resembles more to a journey to the hell. Many people suffer joint pains for days after their journey on these high-aces. The last seaters are the ones whom god cares the less. Adding more insult to the injury, the drivers with the consent of the ticket-givers take a short-cut route via Charsadda Road – a route harboring miscreants and robbers – to save fuel and skip toll taxes. As a result, untoward incidents like the one that took place yesterday, happens. In order to reduce the suffering of the passengers and to secure their safe travel, some steps must be taken in earnest. The political leadership should visit the ada, observing the situation there, they must have to take effective steps. Accommodating four people in a single line of seats must be banned and violators be punished heavily. The district administration and traffic police Chitral must check the overloaded passenger vehicle which come from outside. The drivers and ticket-givers must be made bound to use the mainstream road, rather using short-cuts, route through Charsadda or somewhere else. There is also a dire need to streamline the ticket-giving culture.No one should be allowed to establish its own hidden site of departure, only to add to the misery of the passengers. If no steps are taken by the authorities and the passenger themselves, and the ticket-givers and drivers are allowed to do as their sweet will dictate, incidence like that took place at Charsadda would be repeated and the passengers will continue to face problems as are facing since years. It is humbly requested that the authorities should pay heed to the issue, because not all Chitralis are in a position to afford a 2-d service. The authorities need to put this issue in the agenda of their respective meetings.  ]]>

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