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Autobiography of a government vehicle

Autobiography of a government vehicle (msn.com)

I am a 1300 cc Toyota Corolla, one of the 150,000 or so government cars purchased with funds extracted from the taxpayers.  The story of our life is almost identical – purchased unethically, used mercilessly, treated callously, fueled illegally, maintained negligently and driven rashly.  I will however hold back my grievances, pain and tears (read oil leaks) and briefly narrate my life history and the experiences that constitute a day in the life of a government vehicle.

I was born 14 years ago, on 30 June 2010 to be exact, the last day of the financial year 2010.   It was a case of a “C- section” delivery, as I had to be delivered (read purchased) in an emergency to prevent lapse of the unused budget.   As there was not enough time to first create a vacancy and a job designation of an official whose grade or task justified a government car, it was decided to buy me against an anonymous non-existent official called “District Coordination Officer”.  Although no such designation existed in 2010, I was pleasantly surprised through a newspaper advertisement that the post of ‘District Coordination Officer’ was finally created in 2016.

I soon realized that I was not the only car delivered on 30 June 2010.   There were a few dozen more, whose parentage was equally suspicious. But then there are always considerate and resourceful individuals who would provide a win-win solution to any complex problem.   One such person, the Minister for Foreign Bodies came to our rescue and graciously offered to adopt several of us – eight to be more exact.  We were driven to the Minister’s house, who would be a surrogate parent for the rest of our lives. I must mention that my modest dowry included a driver paid by the government, and unlimited fuel, repair and maintenance at the state expense.

As there were too many of us to be parked inside the house, we were spread out on two sides of the street, making it hellish for the rest of the town to navigate through this maze without the loss of direction or dignity.  On our first day in the new house, the Minister’s family excitedly inspected all eight vehicles, in a manner synonymous with selecting a sacrificial animal. The Minister’s sixteen-year-old son fell for my sterling appearance and promptly laid his claims on me.  He jumped into the driver’s seat, turned on the ignition key and vigorously revved up the engine a dozen times, before dashing off for a high-speed test drive on the Beach Avenue.

I fell from grace with every passing year.  The Minister’s son was no longer interested in me, as he was now competing with friends who were driving daddy’s official Toyota Vigo – with twice the engine capacity and four times the number of armed guards.  So, I settled down to a less adventurous routine.  The driver takes me to buy vegetables every morning, after which I am available for all and sundry.  I can be summoned for dropping children and grandchildren to schools and their friends’ parties, family outings for shopping and entertainment, bringing and dropping support staff, taking clothes for laundry, and making endless  airport trips to pick and drop family members, extended family, friends and friends of friends.

 

I am now at the fag end of my life. Arrangements are already underway to write me off the books.  Sadly, there are few records to support my existence. No one ever paid my motor vehicle tax in the last 14 years.  I have lived a demeaning, exploited and shady life.  The green number plate kept the police away and provided flexibility to bend the rules. I have been a colossal burden on the poor people of Pakistan.  I appeal on behalf of all the 150,000 government vehicles, to end this insane pampering, not practiced by any other country of the world.

Naeem Sadiq