Graffiti culture in Pakistan: how to control it?

Published: July 11, 2010

Graffiti on the streets of Pakistan often carries political slogans and promotional gimmicks.

Graffiti that adorns the walls on the streets of Pakistan has multiple reasons behind it and is a host to multiple opinions too. For some people, it is a means of livelihood, for others it is an outlet for their thoughts. At the same time, it is used for political motives such as political marketing. Graffiti, (which is also in a way another kind of vandalism), is often used by low-level companies as a no-loss mode of marketing.

When I approached different people regarding this issue, I received a number of different responses. One activist of a major political party of Pakistan said that wall-chalking works in favour of his party by giving it a prominent name. He says graffiti carrying the party’s name leaves an impact on the public’s mind and serves to keep them aware of the presence of that party.

Another guy I found busy chalking graffiti on the walls said that he and his father were contracted to wall-chalk for the promotion of a massive construction project that allegedly offers a cheap housing scheme. He told me that he and his father occasionally do wall-chalking, as it provides them easy money.

A school student who chalks the walls in his school’s premises and outside the school said he writes graffiti against his teachers to vent his frustration whenever he is scolded by them. “This is how I put a stop to my increasing frustration,” the student said.

However, those who write on walls do not realise how graffiti tends to ruin the aesthetics of a city. Wall-chalking and graffiti are unacceptable for the obvious reason that walls are not put up for the purpose of serving as canvases for political slogans and other promotional gimmicks ad nauseam. Graffiti, at the same time, disturbs the overall infrastructure of the city by damaging public property and aesthetic appeal.

The business of graffiti flourishes even in so-called civilised societies where labourers are hired for the sole purpose of painting the walls with various political and commercial slogans. It serves the personal benefit of both the employer and the employee. Youth who do this, often pursue it as an immature hobby or have political or commercial motives behind their actions.

Strict laws need to be devised to deal with this burgeoning culture in Pakistan. A check and balance system by the government is needed in order to combat this issue. Simultaneously, people, particularly students and youth need to be ‘morally’ educated in this regard.


Absar Ahmed Khan

A student of mechanical engineering and avid follower of current affairs. Absar blogs on international relations and life in Pakistan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.