Karachi’s Graffiti: Street Art or Vandalism?


Wikepedia defines Graffiti as “images or letters applied without permission to publicly viewable surfaces such as walls or bridges”, adding, that “when graffiti painting is done without the property owner’s consent, it can be considered vandalism, which is punishable by law in most countries”.

Its hard to imagine that any of Karachi’s graffiti artists (if you can call them that), like the ones that painted “Mulla Smokerz” in the photo above, will have bothered to seek permission from those whose property they use as their canvas. But depressingly enough, what’s even harder to imagine is them being actually punished for this offense, especially when in many cases, graffiti artists are sponsored by the very organisations whose job it is to establish law and order! Yes, my friends, our mighty politicians. We can safely blame them for all of the country’s ills, and the issue of graffiti is no different.


How many times have you seen a wall being used to invite you to an all encompassing political party rally? Those MMA Anti-Musharraf, Anti-America slogans inscribed here and there, those are a fairly familiar sight too, aren’t they? And I’m not even beginning to tell you about all those posters and banners from the last local elections that are still hanging on walls and polls in many parts of the city. Even the ‘Mulla Smokerz’ graffiti seen above was just beside this series of posters promoting the People’s Party. No, I’m not against political activism, or even not necessarily against street art forms but the graffiti we’ve grown use to seeing in Karachi can’t exactly be termed street art, now can it be? And what is “Mulla Smokerz” meant to imply anyway?

7 Comments so far

  1. d0ct0r (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 4:10 am

    buy a spray paint worth Rs80 and paint, city’s walls are your canvas… paint your internet screen name of every wall…

    MQM and MMA also use wall chalking as a medium to convey messages to its supporter.. lately i saw CHIPA ambulance service wall chalking its phone numbers on every intersection and even on private residential properties… they seem so desperate to gain few “customers” from Edhi…

  2. BitterTruth (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 4:47 am

    Graffiti is done all over the world..but in khi its done for advertising..
    off the topic..isnt Chipa a free service? I thought it to be nice initiative keeping in view the ambulance requirements..any info?

  3. SS (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 4:48 am

    CHIPA … they should reconsider changing their name :)

  4. PatExpat (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 4:13 pm
  5. Red_Munk!! (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 1:15 am

    Juvinille behaviour & blatent examples of Vandalism.

    As much as i find that wall pointless (one infront of zamzama park), atleast its a creative outlet for the artists & a constructive way to spend their time. (My friends would sooooo disagree with me on this one).

  6. wasiq (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 3:50 am

    this cricket world cup has been the most entertaining world cup ever….i had the opportunity of watching some matches on PTV Local sponsored by HBL,JAZZ,PEPSI and others…..i am not sure if the PTV will show all the matches live of the next world cup….in case they don’t i will surely miss the GREEN side screen….which saved us from a lot of nudity and obscenity this time….but if i have to watch all the matches of the next cup on the sky sports or any other channel i will keep a green piece of cloth handy or borrow the parosan’s green T-shirt which reads “F***Y**” to cover the Tv screen just in case…..

    Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori


  7. Imran (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 5:19 am

    Whether this cheap act of “vandalism” is done by chic dudes of defence or by political ‘bhai loag’ of bohrapir, writing on walls is still a cheap act of destroying other people’s property.

    It is not Art, nor some picturesque graffiti near the Los Angeles boardwalk.

    MILLION $ QUESTION: Why don’t we ever disfigure the walls of their (own) homes ?

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