I am often inspired by Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s famous words exhorting Pakistanis to “work, work and work…” The electricity and commitment in the Founding Father’s voice charges, checks and then puts me back on the fast track, whenever I am inclined to ‘dodge’ on the job.

They say that a hot climate produces laziness and apathy amongst the working population. My friends argue that this is the reason that nations living and working in colder climates tend to work more and waste less time. I think this is not true, as I have seen hardy ‘pathans’ accomplishing tasks in both freezing and scorching temperatures. In my opinion, the prevalent tendency stems more from lack of commitment, disloyalty and dishonesty within us. It starts at the managerial or supervisory level in failure to inspect and redress and ends at the worker, where it manifests itself in kaamchori.

Driving along roads, I often see groups of men belonging to the Horticulture Department of the concerned city authority engaged in a farce, designed to keep verges and islands prim and tidy. Take for example Islamabad, where I watched a group of six individuals and one supervisor engaged in a shameful display of ‘diligence’. A section of the island had, perhaps, been allocated to this group for weeding and mowing. One of the individuals was armed with a fancy verge trimmer, while others carried machetes known in the local gardening parlance as talwars. Two members of this team were walking along swinging their machetes through thin air and chatting with each other, while the remainder lolled around in various stages of somnambulism. The supervisor was squatting some distance away, busy speaking on his cell phone and totally oblivious of the apathy that surrounded him.

We have become used to security checkpoints set up by the police in Islamabad. Thanks to educated morons, who now drive cars, these barriers become a snarling traffic mess during peak hours as every motorist vies to reach the narrow opening ahead of the rest. The men in blue stand in total bliss, as tempers flare and blood pressures rise. Mercifully, the chaos eventually (and rather miraculously) sorts itself out.

I once crossed one of these barriers opposite the Saudi Pak Towers and pulling over to the kerb, asked the dishevelled cop as to why he wasn’t managing the converging traffic streams. I tried to explain to him that a gridlock here would have disastrous consequences in case of terrorist activity. The man looked at me in an offended manner and then turned away with a rude, “this is not my duty.” I stared ahead for a full minute conjuring up a mental picture of a serious crime being committed in full view of the checkpoint cops and the men in blue watching nonchalantly, because their duty was only to check vehicles crossing the barrier.

The presence or otherwise of traffic cops at critical points in our cities means one and the same thing. I shall, in defence of my statement, spotlight the Islamabad Traffic Police, which has received praise in some of my previous columns. However, something appears to have gone seriously wrong with these gentlemen in grey, as their passion to do a good job has been overtaken by the culture of letting sleeping dogs lie.

On the way to the office during the morning rush hour, the motorists on F8/F9 intersection on Jinnah Avenue were alarmed by a car that began zigzagging in and out of traffic, as it tried to reach the spot before the traffic light turned red. It missed my vehicle by a whisker and I threw up my hands at the traffic officer standing on the edge of the Zebra Crossing. The man’s response left me sputtering in anger for what I got was a shrug and a hand gesture asking me as to why was I was making a ruckus.

Believe it or not, a suburban locality in Islamabad has no access to clean drinking water. This morning the middle-aged lady, who works at my house and lives in that area, approached me in a tentative manner seeking help. She showed me some papers addressed to the local government and Islamabad Administration, praying that a well may be bored there so that residents could have access to clean water. Months had passed without any movement from the concerned offices, where people in charge sat drinking mineral water. I have now taken upon myself to accomplish what the applicant could not get done. I shall, hopefully, be successful, as I shall ask a few people in the right places and pull a few strings to get a group of my fellow citizens what is rightfully theirs.

Last night, I dreamt that the country was in the grip of change. Corruption and apathy had disappeared from government departments, ministers and bureaucrats had become accessible, security barriers had been removed and there was a general air of wellbeing amongst all and sundry. I saw gaiety and festivity amongst the people, who appeared to be celebrating. I finally managed to corner a toothless old man, who shouted: “Rejoice my son, for we have been delivered!” I must have mumbled something befitting in response, because my better half shook me awake and wanted to know if I was all right. I told her that all was well - in my dreams.

The writer is a freelance columnist.