As his last report from Pakistan, Fox News correspondent Scott Heidler submits a story on truck art, which centers around a visit to a workshop near Rawalpindi. The piece is striking in how much Heidler uses the “jingle truck” to describe the art. I’ve awkward tour of Jinnah Market with a very confused Greta Van Susteren.
It bears mentioning that the interior of the truck is not just “pimped” in the same manner of the exterior. While a range of craftsmen will be involved in the exterior design and frame restoration, the decorations inside the cab are much different and usually reflect the personal styles and preferences of the driver.
It is striking that Heidler thinks truck art is “providing a diversion from the day to day realities of everyday life” yet at the same time, the significance is explained relative to US activities in the region, “hauling everything from scrap metal to NATO supplies on their way to Afghanistan”. In reality, the thriving truck art is remarkable in its own right. In that sense, the piece is typical of media coverage that is not security related. The richness of Pakistani life is not significant in its own right, but only noteworthy because it differs from the stream of stories about militants, drones, and instability.
The Pulitzer Center has a memorable feature filmed in and around truck workshops of Karachi. The coverage focuses on the workshop of Jamal “Lucky” Uddin, while other interviews highlights the importance of truck art to the average Pakistani. The challenges to the future of truck art, which are often overlooked in these brief segments, is noteworthy.
As the largest city in Pakistan and potentially the largest transportation hub, Karachi can make compelling claims as the center of truck art. There probably is not an accurate measurement of the “center” of truck art, but the craftsmen in Rawalpindi dispute the claim made by some of their Karachi peers. Curiously, the video closes with a few frames about the Karakorum Highway, but the connection is not clear. If the Karakorum highway is important to the development of truck art, Peshawar, not distant Karachi, deserves the claim of truck art capital.
The suggestion is that there are two trends that suggest a bleak trend for the future of truck art. The first is the global economic downturn, which leaves truck owners with left money to spend on decoration. The second, and more significant, is the growing use of shipping containers. While there are some colorful flatbed trucks, the absence of side panels significantly limit the decoration spaces. Still, as long as Pakistanis share the attitude of the guard who “loves” truck art (1:45), it is likely that truck art will remain for some time.
Take note of the excellent decoration pieces at 3:48 and 5:01.