Partying with pistols

Published: June 29, 2011
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The scene of the shoot-out in Defence, Karachi.

It was an ominous day for the attendees of a dance party taking place on Khayaban-e-Rahat in Karachi.  I can imagine the scene: alcohol was ample, the DJ was working the crowd and amongst this unsupervised and posh array of people, a shoot out took place.

Firing outside the gates of prominent parties is a common occurrence in Pakistan and not a lot of people take it seriously. In fact, in my experience, if there was a shoot out at a party, it was usually preceded by an exchange of threats and followed by a phadda or an altercation. The music would stop momentarily, and people would either be scared for their lives, or they would cheer excitedly at the sound of gunshots.

Most uncouth teenagers walk away from such scenes scratched, bleeding and deemed more masculine than ever before. These rogues, as I like to refer to them, get the chicks, drive hot cars and have no one to check up on them, as their parents are usually enslaved by their demands to stand out, whether through power, class, status or violence.

On one such night, as firing took place, it resulted in the deaths of a handful of young adults.  Many newspapers said this brawl was about which group was popular enough to be worthy of entering the party gates first. Whatever the story may be, it was a shameful, as well as a tragic, day for many feudal families across Karachi, because young lives were lost, and not for the nationalist causes their fathers have been fighting for.

Nawabzada Akbar Bugti, a highly revered and important figure for the Baloch people was a remarkable man, full of character, fighting for the liberation and progress of his people in the rural areas of Balochistan. Similarly, there are many tribal families in Pakistan with equally credible and praise worthy feudal lords who have introduced education, shelter and food for their tribes in many hard-to-get areas of the province. For their children’s generations to be throwing their heritage and culture away is not only saddening but indicative of the sad plight that the youth of Pakistan has reached.

Deteriorating youth

This event brings out the nature of unmonitored parties taking place in the urban capitals of Pakistan.  Many conservative Pakistanis bash Western clubs and bars without paying attention to the dangerous and unforeseeable events taking place within residential homes, in upscale neighbourhoods, where there are virtually no ground rules governing the nature of these parties.

The concept of being ID’d for age is mandatory at every event with licensed alcohol in the developed world. Parties in Pakistan play host to people ranging from the age of 15 to 50. Girls younger than 18 are not looked at as minors and anyone in attendance can order a drink without facing legal consequences.  Of course alcohol is banned in Pakistan, but flows like the sweet rivers of jannat, sans moderation and inspection.

There are no body searches before you enter the party, so whether you’re carrying a bag of cocaine or unlicensed ammunition, there are no metal detectors or bouncers ensuring the safety of all those in attendance.

Once you make it past the gates of the party, anything can happen.

In the case of the recent shoot out, we saw how this relaxed and indifferent atmosphere of partying resulted in deaths and severe injury of some very young and affluent Pakistanis.

Cops often get bribed to side with the most affluent kids and provide them with security and patrol at the entrances of these gatherings.

Too rich for your own good

If you don’t have money and status, there is no point starting a fight with anyone because you will not win, no matter how right you may be.

Rich parents give their children access to luxury cars, gun laden guards, pistols, knives and copious amounts of money so their spawn can show off their wealth and stature on roads filled with orphans, beggars and people living below all humane standards of poverty and starvation.

Pakistanis need to realize that the youth have to be given a healthy avenue to express themselves and to be able to socialise and network with each other outside of their schools.  While the club culture is virtually non-existent, if private parties are to be thrown, there has to be a system in place overseeing safety measures and organization.

It is a rather sad state of affairs when the youth speaks with guns and violence, instead of peace and tolerance, over some of the most futile matters, such as gaining entry into a party uninvited or quarrelling over who gets to make an entrance first.

Is the hopelessness and indifference so high in Pakistani society, that parents have blinded themselves to the unhealthy development of their own children?

Mariam Magsi

Mariam Magsi

A photographer, writer and curator working in Canada. She tweets @mariammagsi (twitter.com/mariammagsi) and her professional work can be viewed at www.mariammagsi.com. She is the recipient of a prestigious publication award from the "World Poetry Movement" for poetic works highlighting natural disasters in Pakistan.

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