Shireen Jinnah Colony is lined with massive oil tankers, which up until six days ago, carried fuel for the Nato supply line from Karachi to Torkham. They stretch for miles on both sides of the road, unmoved.
The drivers sit clustered on the pavement which divides traffic on both sides and while some puff a cigarette or two, others enjoy a chat over a cup of tea, undisturbed by the cars rushing past them.
This has become a routine. The drivers sleep inside their truck, wake up for breakfast, and spend the days loitering around the area, waiting, though not too anxiously, for orders to resume work.
Even though they may be jobless, the drivers are happy as long as the country’s sovereignty is protected. “Death to America, they bombed our brothers,” they say in unison.
These common men from the village know very well what sovereignty stands for. “It means no other country has the right to attack our soil,” one says.
Most of these drivers speak Pashto and belong to Khyber Agency. Leaving their families in their hometowns, they travel from Karachi to Khyber and back again in twenty days. Each tanker carries fifty to sixty thousand litres of oil and for this a single driver is paid Rs20,000.
Their anti-American sentiments are strong, yet they work for the United States. Most cannot afford the tanker they drive and have leased the vehicle, for which they pay in instalments and are bound to a debt cycle. If the Nato supply line is permanently blocked, they say they will work for the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and carry oil from Karachi to Islamabad. It will pay much less. Just Rs8000 a month, “but at least our Muslim brothers will not be killed,” one of them said.
“I wish America is destroyed forever,” says Zabeeullah Afridi, a Pakhtun, who hails from Landi Kotal.
“The Taliban are good people, they are God-fearing and they help others.” However, these drives are yet to have the fortune” of meeting a member of the Taliban.“Taliban are Allah-Walay log (God’s people), they only meet the very righteous,” one shares, while another young driver rants “long live Taliban, may America rot in hell.”
There have been instances when miscreants have burnt the Nato oil tankers as they wait at the border, but the drivers feel no pity for “American oil”. “We run away and save our lives when such instances take place,” a driver shares.
Though they earn a living from the funds which come in from the United States, they strongly believe that “livelihood comes from Allah alone. He gives to whom he wishes and if the supply route is blocked, he will take care of them”.
And to the God they trust unwaveringly, they secretly pray that the ten to twelve thousand tankers which supply fuel to the Nato forces grind to a permanent halt.