Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Pakistan country profile

By Zahara Batool, PhD (2012)

I am currently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Transportation Engineering and Management at the University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore. I am teaching various subjects including Transportation Planning, Geometric Design and Highway Safety, and Statistical Analyses with Computer Application at postgraduate and undergraduate levels. My responsibilities also include supervision of MSc. Thesis and BSc. final year research projects. In parallel, I am also representing the department at various platforms.

Pakistan, like many other developing countries has witnessed unprecedented motorization and urbanization in the recent past. The lack of government concern or involvement as well as factors such as continuous ill planned road infrastructure development along with the gaps in the institutional framework has aggravated the situation. There has never been an approved transport policy of the country at a national or local level. Additionally, the inadequate research work particularly within the domain of road safety has caused the lack of knowledge and understanding of the country’s key transport challenges and issues. As a result, unlike many progressing and developed countries of the world, Pakistan has no clear vision of a transport system for its future generation, and for the time being its policy makers have primary reliance on international agencies and practices to find short term solutions to country’s every growing traffic and transport related problems.

The Government of Pakistan is initiating various mass public transit projects in mega cities including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. One example is the Metro Bus Service (MBS) in Lahore which has been in operation since last year. Another noticeable shift is the government’s willingness to liaise with academic institutes and the provision of grants for research based activities. Various transport departments at national and provincial level have also started taking the initiative to enhance their human and resource capacity and to work collectively towards issues such as formulating comprehensive driver’s licensing and training programs.  

It’s been a year I have returned to Pakistan. I believe that my greatest achievement so far is my ability to transfer the knowledge I’ve gained during my stay at ITS to the students I am teaching. I am happy that I made my students familiar with some of the concepts and skills which I didn’t know at the time of my graduation or when I have started my PhD. I hope that this knowledge will have its contribution to help them start their career a step ahead of their fellow colleagues and competitors. During this time, I’ve also delivered lectures and talks at various prestigious national platforms to educate policy makers and stake holders about road safety issues of Pakistan and where we are going wrong. At present, I am also designing a driver education and training program in collaboration with one of the private sector organisations.

Completing my studies as a PhD student in ITS helped me learn the art of doing purposeful academic research. During this time, I learnt a lot about various research methodologies and analyses and their diverse applications not only in the field of transportation but many others like social sciences. I have gained confidence working as an independent researcher. The working environment of the institute, its academic and administrative staff and its various social and research related activities helped me grow as a steady, mature and independent person, and has given me an ability to confidently and effectively present myself and my ideas. Apart from helping me grow as a professional, I will always remain thankful to the ITS for providing me with lifelong friends. The cosmopolitan environment of this institute offers you a life changing opportunity to learn so much about different nationalities and cultures. After completing your studies at ITS, you will realise that this institute is one of a kind and has also embedded in you a skill of knowing and understanding people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. 

My first and foremost friendly advice to all prospective job seekers in Pakistan is to gain good hands-on field experience from the transport industry of developed countries, if possible. Pakistan can become a land of opportunity for such individuals as due to the scarcity of skilled human capital, many of its transport challenges remain unaddressed to date. Secondly, the present working environment of the country has become more welcoming for professionals with a combination of innovative ideas and ability to take initiatives, due to many big transport projects in pipeline; they can gain immediate support from both public and private sectors.

People here in Pakistan are ready and willing to listen to you. Government officials are open to receive and work towards new ideas. And last but not the least, as the country is struggling to find its path towards sustainable and efficient traffic and transport system development, a transport professional with interests particularly in domains of roads safety, policy making, or modeling can get a lot of opportunities from his/her own experimentation and learning point of view.