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Just a couple of days before Eid ul Fitar, whole world in general and Pakistani nation in particular was struck by the tragic Bahawalpur Oil tanker accident in Ahmed Pur Sharkia Bhawalpur. It happened when an oil tanker lost control and turned over a highway and the oil started oozing out. People from surrounding locality started to gather around when an announcement was made from the loud speaker of a nearby mosque about the oil tanker accident. Within an hour the place was flooded with hundreds of people who had brought whatever utensil they found to collect the oil. All they wanted was to collect maximum of something which never belonged to them in first place. Some people found this epic scene quite amusing and started to film the whole scenario, courtesy of the smart phones which are so common these days. This loot was under its way when suddenly the tanker exploded and a sphere of fire erupted which engulfed whatever it found within a radius of about 80 meters. All the people who were in the vicinity of the oil tanker were either burnt alive on the spot or were left critically burnt to suffer an agonizing fate for next few days in the far off burn units of Multan and Lahore. But eventually most of them ended up dead as well.

As it happens in Pakistan, inquiries were ordered from the top most officials and immediately the institutions which are supposed to take measures in order to avoid such tragedies to happen, started throwing blame at one another. On the media, particularly social media, a debate was ignited that the causal behavior of people lashing out to collect (steal) whatever they found, even if it worth a penny, is illiteracy. Majority of people who shared this view were quite vocal to blame the government of Punjab for neglecting the southern Punjab over the years, which is very much true. But, this argument that lack of education is the driving force behind such instincts of general public, poked my memory palace and took me back to August 2016 which made me feel with absolute certainty that NO, LACK OF EDUCATION IS NOT THE REASON FOR SUCH PUBLIC BEHAVIOUR WHICH RESULTED IN Bahawalpur Oil tanker accident.


Analogy to Bahawalpur Oil tanker accident

In the year 2016, an initiative Karwan-e-Yakjehti  was launched by the Government of Balochistan and Southern Command of Pakistan Army to gather the university students from all over the Pakistan to celebrate the Independence Day in Quetta. The purpose was to express the solidarity with the youth of Balochistan, a province which has been a victim of continuous insurgency from last 15 years and unrest since 1947. Approximately 2000 Students from all provinces including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir were part of this caravan. I was the part of the delegation too, representing my university. We spent 5 days in Quetta where a series of events and activities took place. Before proceeding to talk about happenings to those 5 days which imprinted few unpleasant memories for all my life, I would like to talk about pleasant ones.

Balochistan is beautiful…

First of all, I will never be able to forget the journey from Sibi to Quetta on a full moon night of August. As it happened, it was my first train journey as well and with the landscape, the rough Rocky Mountains glittering under the moon light, the curved track on which the train slowly but elegantly made alleviation, the long tunnels from one mountain to another, everything just added up to the exact proportion to make it one of the most spell binding night of my life. All these years, I have been hearing about the bio-diversity of my country that how blessed and enriched we are by Allah SWT. It was this journey which made me witness it and I found Balochistan to be differently beautiful and exotic place. May the hardships which the land and its people are going through end very soon, Amen. Secondly it was this journey which made us all witness the professional standard of our armed forces. Beside the rhetoric, I now have the firsthand experience to claim that our Armed forces are one of the top professional forces of the world. As soon as our train entered the province of Balochistan, it was escorted by a convey of dozen Army vehicles along the national highway. It was an impeccable top notch effort by the southern command to ensure our safety during our arrival and stay. On the other hand, I personally feel that the decision to let army organize the whole event rendered some serious management lapses. But it must be the policy makers not the officers who were assigned the tasks, should be blamed for this. Event organizing and management are the domains generally corresponding to the university life. Since the army officers had to join PMA right after F.Sc, it was not something they were supposed to be familiar with. But overall it was an initiative and effort worth appreciating both on the part of Government of Balochistan and Army.


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Now let’s go back to analyze how oil tanker accident and Karwan-e-Yakjehti were similar to each other. During our stay at Quetta, whenever the meals were served the typical scenes of a desi wedding were witnessed. There was scuffle over a plate of Qorma, brawls for a can of Coke etc. Despite knowing the fact that there were arrangements made by the organizers that each and every single of the person would get all that was present there, yet the insecurity and instinct to usurp whatever they find made them forget who they were. They were people in pursuit of “Higher education”, they were university students, most of them in their 3rd and 4th year of university. The victims of Bahawalpur Oil tanker accident were poor, illiterate people but what about this educated lot? The difference between them and the people at a typical desi weddings was that they were the people who are supposed to hold the top administrative, literary, technical and all other important positions of the country. I wouldn’t have generalized if it were just the students from 2 or 3 universities, unfortunately apart from few, the whole lot was seen doing this. I can still imagine the look on the faces of the army officers present there, a look depicting mixed thoughts of confusion about how to handle this chaos and is this the future we are ready to sacrifice our lives for? Are these the people who will be administering our country?

Those who believe that it was illiteracy which took the life of 200 people in Bahawalpur Oil tanker accident, should have seen the degree holders of future scuffling for a meal, ironically which was in abundance. For a second let’s assume that this is the case, that the people who lost their lives didn’t have any formal education which cost them their life. But still most of them (may be all) were Muslims, right? They must have attended Friday sermons at least even if they were not very practicing, right? Guess how many times they must have heard the incidents of Sahaba (R.A) where they were conscious about the “Amanat”, which in this case was the oil? How many times they must have heard that it is a sin to pick up a thing which belongs to someone else, without his permission? It was not as if they did not know it was wrong, they simply were not concerned about it. Education only tells you about the nature of affairs to deal with them accordingly is on human intellect and upbringing.  

The thing is that we as a nation need serious overhauling when it comes to talking about ethics and morality. Bahawalpur Oil tanker accident depicts that as long as something is free we ready to usurp it anytime. We have no right to blame the politicians and others to be corrupt until and unless we rectify ourselves and refrain from corruption of any sort, which may be something as small as asking a friend about the answer of an MCQ while sitting in the exam hall.

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About The Author

Mohammed Akash

The writer is a student, and has interest in Global Politics, Culture, Strategic Security and Military doctrines.

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