What’s Behind Pakistan’s Famously Planted Signages?

Driving across Pakistan, one can’t help but notice the ubiquitous presence of planted signboards. From the bustling streets of Karachi to the rugged mountains of Balochistan, these signs have become an integral part of the country’s landscape, conveying a wide range of messages—some humorous, others thought-provoking, and a few downright bizarre..

But what’s the story behind these signs? Who’s responsible for planting them, and why? And what do they say about the country’s culture and psyche?.

The origins of Pakistan’s roadside signage can be traced back to the 1980s when the military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, launched a nationwide campaign to promote his regime’s ideology of Islamicization. As part of this campaign, the government ordered the installation of signboards throughout the country, emblazoned with slogans extolling the virtues of Islam and urging citizens to follow the path of righteousness..

In the years that followed, the tradition of planting signs continued, even after the end of Zia’s dictatorship. Local governments, businesses, and individuals began to erect their own signs, using them to promote everything from political parties to religious organizations to tourist attractions..

Today, Pakistan’s roadside signage is a riot of colors, shapes, and messages. There are signs that warn against speeding, signs that remind drivers to wear their seatbelts, and signs that simply offer words of wisdom or encouragement. Some signs are adorned with intricate calligraphy, while others are painted with vibrant street art..

The content of the signs is just as varied as their appearance. Some signs convey important safety messages, while others are more focused on promoting a particular agenda. There are signs that celebrate the country’s history and culture, and signs that criticize the government or social norms..

One of the most famous planted signs in Pakistan is located in the city of Quetta. The sign, which simply reads .

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