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    Americanized Teenagers-Must read article

    This story ran on page A04 of the Boston Globe on 05/23/99.
    Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.


    Teen crime culture grows in Karachi
    By Marion Lloyd, Globe Correspondent, 05/23/99

    KARACHI - American ''gangsta'' rap music reverberates through the beachfront mansion, where teenage girls in vinyl miniskirts and platform shoes are copying the latest MTV dance moves. Their dates mouth the profane lyrics and toss back slugs of whiskey from metal flasks. Cellular phones jangle in the pockets of their oversized jeans. The scene evokes Los Angeles, but it is suburban Karachi, where traditional Muslim values are fast losing ground to a criminal culture with American trappings. The teeming port city is the crime and extortion capital of Pakistan, a country ranked among the world's most corrupt. The effects of illicit wealth are most glaring among the younger generation,
    who combine a disregard for the law with an increasing taste for fast living. ''We live like kings and do what we want,'' boasted the 16-year-old son of a prominent defense attorney, dressed in a Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt and chain-smoking Marlboro reds. ''People murder 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. They claimed it was a suicide and were released after their families intervened. In another case, a gang of wealthy teenagers opened fire outside
    a popular fast-food restaurant, wounding several people. No arrests were made. To prevent another attack, security is high outside the gated mansion where 200 of the city's wealthiest teenagers 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 teenage sons of one of Pakistan's most powerful political families, the Pagaros,
    screeches 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 on the
    Pagaro gang 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,'' said a tough-looking 16-year-old with reased-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. Later, at a poolside wedding reception at a swank hotel, this
    teenager boasted, ''I'm not afraid.'' 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. Key alliances in the hard world of Pakistani politics and business are forged here. Animosities run deep, particularly among members of the younger
    generation. ''If they mess with me, I'll mess with them,'' the gang leader said. 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.'' Despite Central Asia's centuries-old rivalries, the teenagers' language, like their clothes, is unmistakably urban America. ''We think Pakistan is a village. But we are more Western than the West,'' said the son of a Karachi construction magnate, who, like most
    of his friends, has spent years living abroad. ''American gangsta rappers are nothing,'' he said. ''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 teenagers 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 three months ago, three rangers were stationed at each of several
    gates to the sprawling Art Deco complex, whose outside walls are covered with gang graffiti. At least seven students have been expelled over the past two years for attacking students in school. ''They throw their weight around and try to manipulate you,'' said Seema Kazmi, who teaches English and history at the school. She gestures to a
    group of 14-year-olds, who are flouting the school dress code in 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,'' said Uzma Rauf, the school's vice principal. She says the situation has worsened dramatically over the past five years. Heavy weapons are more easily available and drugs, particularly hashish and
    cocaine, are on the rise. Karachi's port is a major smuggling depot for illegal arms and drugs coming from Central Asia and war-torn
    Afghanistan. ''This is a Kalashnikov culture,'' she said, referring to the
    Russian-made semiautomatic 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 teenagers.
    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,'' said the son of a
    high-level bureaucrat, who says he does not belong to any gang. Rauf says the school is under pressure to accept problem youths,
    whom she estimates at 25 percent of the 2,700 students. ''But if they're ministers'
    sons, what can you do?'' She attributes the teenagers' behavioral problems to 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 said. Police say they are helpless to intervene, even when they have proof that
    teenagers have committed felonies. ''They are above the law and they know it,'' said 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 the youths from drinking or doing drugs, without risking
    retaliation from angry parents. ''We can't even touch their bodyguards,'' who are widely
    involved in carjackings and arms smuggling, said 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 a
    Karachi citizens group that monitors crime, Jameel Yousuf, a retired businessman with
    connections to the Karachi elite. He says in the case of a fight, or even a murder, the teenagers' families usually refuse to press charges. Typical police tactics are of little use, he says. ''You can't beat the hell out of a rich kid to extract confessions,'' he
    said, with only a trace of irony. ''You just have to let him go.''


    #2
    We know how to party!

    Comment


      #3
      We know how to party!

      Comment


        #4
        I did not read the whole article but the begining is so true, pakistanis in pakisatn say oh kids in america are so "americanized" they dotn respect their elders etc..

        the truth of the matter is that teenagers in Pakistan are far worse then the kids in USA. Parents here teach their kids some value, but parents overthere have just lost it over all that black money.

        The place where my bro works, the owner had a son who as not doing so good here, and everyone told him "oh send him to Pakistan, he'll be better" and so he did. After 3 moths the family yin pakistan send him back, because by living in "pakistan" he had gotten worse than he was in "America"

        just thought id share dat!

        Comment


          #5
          it amazes me so much....how different we are. Myself,being born and raised in Toronto..in a "western" environment; I never really adapted many of the "wayz" that other Canadians follow ie drinkin, drugz..etc etc. Yet in a muslim country...all of this is happening.... *wonderz*

          I smell a rat!
          22.1 . O mankind! Fear your Lord . Lo! the earthquake of the Hour ( of Doom ) is a tremendous thing .

          Comment


            #6
            Just a sad state of affairs for teenagers who have too much money, no parental supervision and american television and dish to model after.
            I agree that the conditions over there in some cases are far more horrific.

            Comment


              #7
              As a teenager living in Pakistan, I know exactly what goes on in "upper-class" socities. Specially in the metropolitans of Pakistan. It's really horrifying to hear about the incidents that take place every other day. And worst thing is that the parents are fully supportive.
              On the other hand, there is an equal number of teenagers who are inclined towards religion.
              So it's a 50:50 ratio.

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                #8
                What about the middle class societies?

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                  #9
                  As an American born Paki, I can't believe what I'm reading. My parents would NEVER let me behave this way. I think its because sinse they knew that I was growing up in a Western environment they restricted my life a lot more then if we were over there

                  Comment

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