Buses in Pakistan are impossible to miss – bright, loud and colourful, they can be seen across city streets and along highways, usually travelling in an unholy haste. They also tend to be overcrowded, commuters spilling on to rooftops and hanging off the sides. Serious polluters, buses belch out thick clouds of noxious fumes from over-worked and under-maintained diesel engines. And they are dangerous to travel in: the frequency of incidents in which packed buses careen off ravines or run over pedestrians is notoriously high.
But in a country with very low levels of private vehicle ownership, a railway infrastructure that hasn't seen significant additions since the time of British rule, and no urban mass transit systems to speak of, buses play an absolutely critical role. Millions of Pakistanis daily rely on buses to attend school, commute to work, and travel across the country. Given the centrality of the bus to everyday life in Pakistan, it is little surprise that the vehicle has played a key role in many of the events that have shaped our young nation's history.
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