Just as I somehow made a U-turn to Lahore’s largest boulevard, after crawling through triple parking blocking another main road and turned into traffic where every rule was being broken, I was stopped by a polite constable. He informed me that my 13-year old car’s license plate was illegal, something that I was not aware of (not that I am pleading ignorance as a refuge from the law). As he checked my papers and educated me on how to get the new license plate at my own expense (Rs1200) he also courteously said that there would be a ‘small’ fine. Equally courteously, I asked him to look at the mayhem around him and think if I was the most deserving of this penalty, which is nothing more than yet another extortion scheme devised by a corrupt and incompetent government. Of course, it pales before the wanton robbery perpetrated by levying a ‘luxury’ tax on those of us who were savvy enough to buy a 2-kanal plot to build a house. Somehow, a complicit court has justified this brazen act of injustice opening the doors of such oppression for the future. 

Not surprisingly, the constable sighed and said there was nothing he could do about the mayhem as it was just impossible to chase 50 lawbreakers and low hanging fruit like myself was his only practical commitment to duty. My words must have touched some fairness nerve in him as he asked me to just get the new plate and forget about the fine. 

While there seems to be no way of ever educating our leaders about justice and fairness, could the CM Punjab make our legalised economic damage less painful by saving us from the hordes of barbarians that litter the roads? Surely, he could ask his wunderkind, Umar Saif to let us pay by credit card and get his otherwise inhuman registration office to mail the new, legalised extortion plates to us. 


Lahore, April 13.