Truck art — a vehicle of social change in Pakistan

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PESHAWAR: A unique idea of using trucks as moving billboards for spreading the message of the rights of girls is making the rounds as truck drivers are changing paintings on their vehicles.

Trucks in Pakistan are now seen carrying huge paintings about girl education, giving rights to girls in inheritance, condemning evil practices of exchanging brides to settle disputes, Swara and early marriages.

Haji Khan, a truck driver by profession, has decided to change the painting on his vehicle from a film heroin to the portrait of a minor girl carrying a school bag with a smile on her face. The picture will also carry an inscription that ‘education is the basic right of a girl so, send your daughters to school’.

“Drivers mostly like pictures of female actresses, gun-toting heroes or of a politician,” Haji told APP.

He said that he was guided by a truck painter at a workshop in Peshawar to use a painting which would help in curbing wrong practices against females and he accepted the suggestion.

“Truck art is a big source of publicity as the vehicle roams from Khyber to Karachi and its target audience is rural population where most of these evil practices prevail,” said Samar Minallah, a renowned social worker, anthropologist and the architect of this programme.

Talking to APP, Samar said that she had this idea in mind and through her discussions with organisations like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), she succeeded in getting them to finance the project of spreading awareness through truck art.

Samar Minallah said a truck workshop owner, Hayat Khan extended great cooperation in this regard and played a pivotal role in convincing other truck drivers to change the paintings on their rides.

“Both ADB and UNESCO signed MoUs with Hayat Khan for the payment of paintings on trucks about the rights of girls and female education,” Samar told APP.

She said that Hayat Khan apprises every truck driver who comes to his workshop about the initiative and the payment of the painting is then made by ADB and UNESCO.

In response to a question about the feedback of the initiative, Samar said that drivers are showing interest and contacting workshop owners for painting their trucks for a good cause.

She said that arrangements were also made for truck art in Manshera for coverage of Kohistan and other districts of upper KP where the plight of girl education is very dismal. For coverage of central Punjab, trucks are provided with the facility at Multan city.

“Truck art is our profession and after launching of this project, we are now painting pictures with a public message,” observed Hayat Khan.

He said that painters are compelled to fulfil the demand of drivers and owners of the vehicle. However, now after a little counselling, they have succeeded in convincing drivers to paint positive and objective oriented paintings on their vehicles.

About the impact, he said, truck art has a very positive feedback because its viewers are huge and all across the country.

“Once a truck starts moving from Peshawar, it stops in Karachi while passing through different cities and villages. So, our effort will bear fruitful results in educating people and the day is not away when girls in Pakistan will get their due rights,” Hayat said.