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The Decadence of Society. Take II

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    The Decadence of Society. Take II

    This is another installtion of my frequent postings on our youth, and culture, gone wild.

    Pakistani feudal elitelet sons swagger, kill without penalties

    By MARION LLOYD Special to the Chronicle

    KARACHI, Pakistan - American "gangsta" rap music reverberates through the beachfront mansion, where teen-age girls, clad in vinyl miniskirts and platform shoes, dance hip-hop under psychedelic lights. Their dates mouth the songs' profane lyrics and toss back slugs of whiskey from metal flasks. Cellular phones bulge in their oversized designer jeans. It might be Los Angeles. Only it's suburban Karachi, where traditional Muslim values are fast losing ground to American gang culture. The teeming port city is the crime and extortion capital of Pakistan , a country ranked among the world's most corrupt. The effects of easy wealth are most glaring among the younger generation, combining a disregard for the law with an increasing taste for fast living. "We live like kings and do what we want," boasts the 16-year-old son of a prominent defense attorney, dressed in a Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt and chain-smoking Marlboro reds. "People murder people and get away with it." He should know. Three years ago, he and several friends were charged with shooting a classmate to death in a fight over a girl, in what they claimed was a case of suicide but which was almost certainly murder. They were released after their families intervened. In another case, a gang of wealthy teen-agers opened fire outside a popular fast-food restaurant, injuring several people. No arrests were made. To prevent such an attack, security is high outside the gated mansion where 200 of the city's wealthiest teen-agers are gathered. Dozens of guards armed with Kalashnikov rifles patrol the neighborhood in exclusive, seaside Defense Colony. At midnight, a Mitsubishi sports utility vehicle carrying the teen-age sons of one of Pakistan 's most powerful political families, the Pagaros, squeals to a halt in front of the house. A fight breaks out when the boys, flanked by armed guards, try to force their way in. The guests spill out onto the lawn, egging the Pagaro gang on with jeers of "Mafiosi" and "feudal thugs." The security forces fire warning shots and then open fire on the retreating car. "They're like the Italian Mafia; they want to be kings of this city," says a tough-looking 16-year-old, with greased-back long hair and the traditional black tunic worn by feudal chiefs. Like the Pagaros, his father is a high-ranking politician in the local government. His family also owns a large chunk of Western Baluchistan province. "I'm not afraid," he boasts later, at a pool-side wedding reception at a swank, five-star hotel. The guest list is a Who's Who of Karachi elite, including several government ministers, a television star and a former chief justice of the Supreme Court. It is here where key friendships are forged in the ruthless world of Pakistani politics and business. Animosities run deep, particularly among the younger generation. "If they mess with me, I'll mess with them," the gang leader boasts. He gestures to a scowling member of a rival landlord family, called "feudals" for the ancient social system that operates in Pakistan 's rural outback. "If this weren't a wedding, we would have some words." The centuries-old rivalries are unique to Central Asia. But the teen-agers' language, like their clothes, is unmistakably urban America. "People think Pakistan is a village. But we are more Western than the West," brags the son of a Karachi construction magnate, who, like most of his friends, has spent years living abroad. "American gangsta rappers are nothing," he says. "There, if you shoot someone, you're in big trouble. Here, you can do what you want." That attitude spells trouble for the elite prep schools where the teen-agers regularly stage fights. At the prestigious City School, clashes between rival gangs became so common last year that the principal deployed 50 army rangers to restore peace. Until last month, three rangers were stationed at each of several gates leading to the sprawling, art deco complex, whose outside walls are plastered with gang graffiti. And at least seven students have been expelled over the past two years for attacking classmates in school. "They throw their weight around and try to manipulate you," says Seema Kazmi, who teaches English and history at the school. She gestures to a group of 14-year-olds, flouting the school dress code in their low-rider jeans and American baseball caps emblazoned with the logos of popular rap singers. Others are more blunt in their criticism. "They get away with murder," says Uzma Rauf, the school's vice principal. She says the situation has worsened dramatically over the past five years due to an increase in the availability of heavy weapons and drugs, particularly hashish and cocaine. Karachi's port is a major smuggling outlet for illegal arms and drugs coming from Central Asia and war-torn Afghanistan. "This is a Kalashnikov culture," she says, referring to the Russian-made semi-automatic rifles available for $1,000 in the city's booming black market. The guns are favored by militants from rival political factions, who are fighting a bloody feud for control of Pakistan 's commercial capital. The culture of violence filters down to the teen-agers. B*****shing Kalashnikovs is not an uncommon way of settling rivalries, particularly among the sons of politicians and feudal landlords. "It's about arrogance, showing people who you are," says the son of a high-level bureaucrat, who claims not to belong to any gang. He estimates only 10 percent of his classmates are involved in fighting, "but we all eventually get dragged in." Rauf said the school was under severe pressure to accept problem kids, whom she estimates at 25 percent of the 2,700 students. "But if they're ministers' sons, what can you do?" She blames the teen-agers' behavioral problems on lax parents, many of whom are involved in criminal activities themselves. "We know they're not going to help us out in any way," she says. Police say they are helpless to intervene, even when they have proof that the teen-agers have committed felonies. "They are above the law, and they know it," says an officer at the Clifton Police Station, which oversees Defense Colony. "If a rich kid is accused of murder, you can't even think of investigating." Nor can they stop them for drinking and or doing drugs, without risking retaliation from angry parents. "We can't even touch their body guards," who are widely involved in carjackings and arms smuggling, says the officer, who requested anonymity. After police arrested one guard on carjacking charges, the man's employer threatened to burn down the police station, he says. The charges were dropped. Such incidents have caught the attention of the head of Karachi's citizen's crime cell, Jameel Yousuf, a retired businessman with connections to the Karachi elite. He says in the case of a fight, or even a murder, the teen-agers' families usually refuse to press charges. Typical police tactics are of little use. "You can't beat the hell out of a rich kid to extract confessions," he says, with only a trace of irony. "You just have to let him go."


    I had been meaning to write a response for a few days, but with work load and with all that I have to say, it never came about, so a short response for now and detailed one later..

    This is a topic very close to my heart.. for the reasons that one of my very close friends was killed back in 1989 and the people responsible for it are walking around to this day..

    These Jahil feudal idiots and these new money no class jerks are the scum of the society. But these guys are "apni gallee mein toh kutta bhi sher hota hai" once they are outside Pakistan.. its then that there whole attitude fizzles...

    Sorry mon dunn wanna write more on thsi at this time.. as I said, topic too close to my heart..

    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.