Participants of the Motor Rally drive upon arriving in Islamabad Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Encouraged by the government’s move to equally enforce the law on all regardless of their status, Islamabad Police has fined over 700 influential people including legislators, government officials and armed forces personnel since January 2018. This indicates a large increase in recorded traffic violations by VIPs as compared to last year.

According to the statistics shared with Gulf News by Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP), as many as 187 government officers, 101 Senators, members of National and Provincial Assembles and 322 armed forces employees are among the violators. In addition, the offenders included 32 foreigners/diplomats, 40 judiciary officers, 70 journalists, 12 police officers and 1 celebrity, traffic police officials revealed.

The violations included speeding, breaking a red light, driving without a seat belt, use of tinted glass and using a mobile phone while driving.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Farrukh Rasheed told Gulf News that, “the implementation of rule of law for all citizens equally sends a powerful message to the general public and discourage them to violate traffic laws.” When asked about the instances when police find themselves under pressure from influential citizens, Rasheed simply said, “there is no pressure on police now.”

Surprisingly, the numbers of traffic violations by VIPs increased by 1000 per cent in 2018 as a total of 765 were fined this year as compared to only 65 in 2017.

Islamabad residents have highly appreciated the police action against lawbreakers and expressed hope that it would improve the image of police in the eyes of common citizens. “This is surprising that so many VIPs have been fined by daring police officers. Equal implementation of law would bridge the gap between people and police while also strengthening law and order situation in Pakistan,” said Zehra Farman, a lecturer in Islamabad.

However, she lamented that the traffic tickets in Islamabad are awfully low.

A total of 679,529 traffic offences (by all Islamabad citizens) were recorded this year from January 1, 2018 to October 21, 2018, indicating a slight increase of 2.2 per cent from 2017 which saw 664425 violations. Driving without helmet was the top offence by common citizens followed by careless driving, using phone while driving and speeding. Total tickets issued in 2018 so far were 679529 while the total fine was nearly Rs197 million.

To ensure public convenience, Islamabad city has move towards digital policing offering digital fine process under which traffic violators receive notification through SMS. “Digital system has made lives easier for both traffic wardens and public as people can now pay their fines in seconds through digital and branchless banking facility and get their documents back from the traffic warden in few minutes” Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Abdul Rashid told Gulf News.

The measures by Islamabad Traffic Police are in line with Pakistan’s new government of Imran Khan has restricted the VIP protocol for influential people to send a message that all citizens will be treated equally, regardless of their social or political status.