ISLAMABAD: It all started with Mrs Khalid Butt finding cigarettes in her son’s room. This was all the more worrisome for being discovered around the same time that he had stopped asking her for pocket money.
After questioning his friends, she was even more traumatised to discover that her son, an O-level student, had joined a group of boys who called themselves the “Sheesha Gang”. The gang was involved in a number of anti-social activities that included purse snatching, smoking, hooliganism, vandalism and female harassment.
“I was shocked. I immediately changed his school and started monitoring his activities,” Butt told The Express Tribune.
Many college-gangs operate in the twin cities, including Tiger Student Federation, Muslim Student Federation and Pakistan Student Federation, among others. Some of these gangs are even backed by influential political parties.
A student of a college in Rawalpindi said these gangs were involved in various violent activities that included but were not limited to threatening, street fighting and extortion.
One group, for instance, called itself 98 and indulged in one-wheeling on roads of the twin cities. One wheeling is a dangerous activity where the motorcyclist drives his bike on the rear wheel while the front wheel is suspended in the air.
Syed Naveed, a member of 98, said, “Wheeling is my passion and my bike is my wife.” He blamed the lack of recreational activities for youth in Pakistan for his “dangerous” hobby.
Another gang, Mr 49, is involved in wall-chalking and writes various messages on walls of different houses with the intent of scaring the residents of the neighbourhood.
Kamran Ahmed, who works as a clinical psychologist for the United Nations, said the main reason behind youth involving themselves in anti-social activities is the lack of opportunities to prove themselves.
He added that lack of positive challenges for the youth, their tendency to take short cuts in life, eagerness to break norms, family pressure, peer pressure, a sense of failure and loneliness all contributed to their tendency to join anti-social gangs.
“[The lack of ample opportunities] leads to frustration, which leads to them indulging in such activities,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2010.