From Accident to Advocacy:
How Indus Motors & Niaz Malik
Work to Mitigate Road Accidents

Niaz Malik, Brand Ambassador for Road Safety at Indus Motors Pakistan, talks to SouthAsia in this exclusive interview.

February 2023

Could you shed light on your accident and how has it impacted your life since?
The memories of that day are still vivid in my mind. I remember it was July; Ramadan was ending, and I was visiting a team member in Chakwal who had lost his father, to pay my condolences. I was extremely fatigued and jetlagged after forty hours of travel from China, but did not think much of it and drove anyway.

It was on the way back, that I dozed off behind the wheel and my car veered off the road and plummeted down a cliff into a valley. It is still a very dark and painful memory. I suffered severe injuries to my neck and spinal cord that left me paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair. This incident proved to be a life changing experience for me and that is why I keep advocating road safety because it can transform your life in an instant.

I had to leave my job, concentrate on my recovery, re-evaluate the purpose of my life. It gave me a stark awareness with regard to my priorities moving forward. After that I started my management consulting firm which advises CEOs and large groups in Pakistan with regard to their strategic endeavors, and how to deal with turbulent times, uncertainty, growth, and inclusion at workplace. This major life change encouraged me to become more involved in community initiatives and found my sanctuary in spirituality. Now I spend more time with my family and people who matter in my life as I learnt that nothing lasts forever. The whole experience stirred something humane in me which made me less of a professional and more of a human being who believes that we should live and enjoy each moment of our lives.

How has it changed you as a person ever since?
Now that my life has been turned over on its head, I have learnt to dwell upon things that I once overlooked and deemed a waste of time. I am a lot more patient; forgiving of the things I cannot control, and forgiving of my own flaws. My journey has made me a more tolerant and an accepting human. I believe we always have to give our endeavors our 100% effort, and the result will come at the right time.
This is why I dedicate my time to road safety, mobility, and inclusion. More people need to realize how arbitrary life is, and precaution is key.

When did you decide to become an advocate of Road Safety and the Road Safety Ambassador for Indus Motors?
My accident changed my life in ways I could not have even imagined. I wanted to speak up for the cause, to be able to share the awareness amongst community and act as a catalyst for change.

Indus Motors has, for years, been a prominent flag-bearer of Road Safety in Pakistan. Their motto “Concern Beyond Cars” is self-explanatory. The Toyota Road Safety Program is a comprehensive initiative launched by Toyota Motor Corporation to promote safe driving practices and reduce the number of accidents on roads worldwide and of course, in Pakistan. The program includes a variety of activities, such as driver education and training, research on vehicle safety technologies,

It is their “Be A Safety Leader” initiative under their Road Safety Program that piqued by interest. IMC encourages everyone, young and old, to become Toyota Safety Leaders. The motive behind their road safety initiatives is what led to my official onboarding as IMC’s official Brand Ambassador for Road Safety.

Can you tell us about Indus Motors “Be a Safety Leader” campaign and what motivated you to join their drive and passion for Road Safety?
All advocacy efforts require communities and groups to collectively work together to solve problems. Working together with IMC is helping me reach the masses. Being a staunch advocate of road safety, I felt that my passion and drive to inculcate the sense of safety in every person on the road strongly resonates with IMC as they are working towards a safer transit system already. Together, we are designing our road safety messaging and initiatives to create awareness in society of this important aspect, reduce traffic accidents and help create a safe environment for all road users. I am proud to be an IMC Road Safety Leader.

IMC’s initiatives are intended to create agents of change under the banner of Road Safety Leaders and raise public awareness of this critical issue, reduce traffic accidents, and contribute to the creation of a safe environment for all road users. IMC has taken a leadership role in the field of road safety and has pioneered several research projects to address this issue. Their dream of having a safer Pakistan immensely resonates with me. My ability to understand the problem firsthand and then provide required solutions based on my own experiences motivates me. I want to express my gratitude to Indus Motors’ CEO Ali Asghar Jamali and Head of Corporate Communication & CSR, Asad Abdullah with whom I have had the immense pleasure of their acquaintance. It is due to the shared drive and passion that I wholeheartedly accepted their Brand Ambassadorship for their Road Safety Initiatives.

What is IMC doing for road safety awareness and how much time do you think will it take to ‘fix’ Pakistan’s Road Safety issues?
It goes without saying that the road safety issues will take quite some time to fix and effort from all of us. We must realize that it is a long-term project which involves the combination of different stakeholders, our own attitude, and our willingness to obey the law. By becoming more aware, patient, and firm understanding that we must change ourselves while we drive. We are dedicated to become agents of change. At IMC we have engaged the government and different institutions to take this seriously. It cannot happen overnight but we have set the targets of reducing accidents, and saving lives, and have a comprehensive plan at each level with the government.

Using smart technologies and platforms to promote road safety activities, IMC has also partnered with NED in a massive research project that pinpoints and identifies high accident-prone spots spanning ten major arterials in Karachi whilst also creating traffic safety awareness through campaigns, amongst children and young adults. These types of collaborations will undoubtedly benefit Pakistan for generations to come. Speaking of generations, one of IMC’s most prominent campaigns is ‘Learning from the Back Seat’, a digital campaign spread over eleven informative videos. We strongly believe children to be the best Road Safety Leaders. Nurturing these children results not only in them influencing the decisions of adults around them, but these same children will grow up, instilled with the awareness of road safety. Thus, creating a growing, sustainable and cascading generation of Road Safety Leaders.

Another significant development was when IMC signed a pact with the International Road Federation (IRF) based in Switzerland, together with a group of leading private sector companies in Pakistan. IRF is a world-recognized authority on road safety. Together with IRF, IMC intends on combining the experience and expertise of both organizations to increase awareness of road safety and reduce road accidents in Pakistan. In addition, there are many other initiatives that have either been taken or are in the pipeline.

What advice would you give to the masses for road safety?
Road safety affects us every day, the minute we get out of our house. We can only be safe if we are mindful of it, we can only be safe if we truly understand its spirit. It comes by being patient, obeying the traffic rules, giving way, and try not to be in haste each time we get on the road. You mst learn how to drive safely, understand your vehicle and understand the pedestrian laws. Please take it from me; someone who has been through the unthinkable. Always be careful on the road and obey traffic rules. Your actions always have consequences and can change someone else’s life or your own forever.