Shamim Akhtar, a brave woman from the Pakistani city of Gujranwala living in Rawalpindi, is the first woman in Pakistan to drive a commercial cargo truck, earning her livelihood in this way.
Fifty-three-year-old Shamim Akhtar took up truck driving due to financial constraints. She is the only sister of four brothers. His father, Chaudhry Khushi Muhammad, belonged to a landlord family. Shamim Akhtar received training from the Islamabad Traffic Police and broke with general social norms to drive a truck. This profession is still considered ‘off-limits’ for women in conservative Pakistani society.
Shamim Akhtar, a straightforward woman, said in an interview with Deutsche Welle that she used to drive a car earlier. Then he also taught the girls to drive, and after that, due to his financial situation, he started driving a truck.
According to him, he loaded seven thousand bricks on his truck during his first trip as a truck driver from Rawalpindi to Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He said that they get about 1000 rupees for carrying goods once. Shamim Akhtar said, “My big wish is that someday I will have enough resources to buy my truck.”
Pakistan’s first female truck driver Shamim Akhtar in Urdu:-
She never considered driving a truck a means of earning a living; she only considered that it was a means of earning a living for herself. But she never thought she would get so much respect from the media and others as a female truck driver. “It’s a great honor for me.”
Initially from the Gujranwala district, this woman said she has studied up to matriculation. They have five children, four of whom are daughters and one son. Son is the youngest who studies matriculation. Shamim Akhtar wants to educate her children as much as possible.
In this interview, Shamim Akhtar repeatedly mentioned the Pakistan Traffic Police and said that he is very grateful to this department because he is where he is today because of the traffic police. Before driving a truck, Shamim Akhtar worked for State Life and was also an assistant at a sewing school. Then that school closed down, and they faced financial problems. Then someone advised her to learn to drive, but she didn’t even have the driving course fee, “I paid this fee by borrowing and then started teaching driving to girls in the same school.” I became so proficient in my work that people started calling me Madam Shamim and then ‘Bhai Jaan.’
Shamim calls driving her profession more of a hobby than a job. He took various driving courses and also learned to drive a regular truck. She said that when she first went to work as a truck driver, male truck owners were very reluctant to give her work, “but when I was tested, they praised me a lot. Today I have been driving a truck for almost two years.
A softly spoken Shamim Akhtar told DW she wanted to drive a metro bus in Islamabad.