Our govt should provide a platform for the people of Peshawar to peacefully hold protests and express their opinion
Not a single day passes without a protest, strike or a rally breaking out in Peshawar. Locals believe that the only way to fulfill their needs and express their opinion freely is through protests. The Peshawar Press Club (PPC) road, located near Sher Shah Suri Road, is the busiest thoroughfare within the premises of the Cantonment. All protests are held in front of the PPC and nearby areas. The drawback of having the press club located in that particular area is that a single protest is enough to block the main road and thus people are forced to take alternative routes, leading to traffic jams.
Views cannot be expressed freely in this country, as has been demonstrated when protesters such as doctors and others are baton-charged and injured. In London, Hyde Park is famous for its Speaker’s Corner. The park is a public venue for demonstrations and protests, and locals freely express their views, insult one another, release their frustration and anger knowing very well that no one will stop them.
Our government should also provide a platform for the people of Peshawar to peacefully hold protests, express their opinion without being baton-charged and ensure that no roads are blocked as a result of demonstrations. The traffic problem has always been a burning issue of the city. It has never reduced, only increased. Roadside accidents and security vehicles often lead to hours-long traffic jams, with the added element of sit-ins and protests only worsening the situation.
While there might have been some decline in VIP culture, traffic jams still occur regularly, with vehicles being stopped for 15 to 20 minutes on the side of roads, as a public official passes by.
Another pertinent point to note here is that Peshawar has been ranked as the world’s ninth most polluted city. It is most certainly filled with dust and noise, and heavy traffic is one of the main causes of this pollution.
The problems are numerous, and solutions are available, but they will only be of utility if the authorities implement them. The city of Peshawar needs a proper place for protests, more flyovers, more bridges and more roads. The work of the newly hired traffic wardens is praiseworthy, but more change is needed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. One of these could be the provision of free driving lessons to taxi and rickshaw drivers, who clearly don’t know how to negotiate heavy traffic, and only end up compounding the problem.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2015.