For years and years, a common grouse of car buyers in Pakistan has been that the vehicles manufactured in the country are largely of a sub-standard quality and are miles and miles behind what are driven in other parts of the world. The Pakistani auto industry as well as successive governments here have largely done little to nothing to address this. That is up until now.
Recently, Pakistan's Science and Technology Chaudhry Fawad Hussain took to Twitter to announce that reforms would be made in the cars being produced locally. "Pakistan has initiated to make major reforms into standards, and after food and electronics, vehicles made in Pakistan will now be included in the standard system," his tweet read. “In this regard a meeting has been called between All Pakistan Automobiles Association and all stakeholders on February 26."
The proposed move would come as some consolation for car buyers at large in a country where the auto industry has been struggling as much as the entire economy itself.
The Pakistani auto industry is minuscule compared to markets in China, the United States and several European countries. It is also significantly smaller than the Indian auto industry - in 2016, India exported more cars than Pakistan produced. And that gap has only increased.
While some blame these factors for no proper standard existing in the Pakistani automobile industry, it is not for lack of trying at least. Authorities have dabbled to replicate standards in place in the US, Japan and in several European countries but have only hit roadblocks for varying reasons. Even calls for taking a cue from India and developing its own standards have fallen on deaf ears. A 2015 report in Dawn found most automotive assemblers it had reached out to were in favour of Pakistan developing its own standards.
In a country where those who can afford a vehicle often complain about cheap parts being used, glaring lack of safety features and high costs, Pakistan is indeed in need of a common set standard to govern its auto industry, however tiny it may be.