April 12, 2011
This research aims to shed light on the issue of wall chalking in Pakistan. A survey is carried out to ascertain why wall chalking is so common in Pakistan, why does the public indulge in so much wall chalking, and what can be done to address this issue. Data from the survey and secondary sources (newspaper articles, videos) is used to find out the various aspects of wall chalking done for advertising purposes, and what is the government doing to thwart it. Efforts of nongovernmental organizations inn this regard are also researched upon. It can be gathered that the public in Pakistan basically indulges in wall chalking due to lack of platforms for them to express their emotions, combined with a lack of awareness. Advertisements of every scale are done through wall chalking to avoid larger costs, and the government cannot root out the problem since it itself consists of political parties largely involved in wall chalking for political purposes. There are laws against wall chalking and illegal advertising, but are not promulgated strictly enough, which makes the public act more daredevil and do all the more wall chalking. Most of the people surveyed and interviewed agree that it is a heinous activity that debauches the beauty of the city a great deal, yet we see that the city’s walls are filled with all kinds of wall chalking. Hence, everyone would like to see this source of ugliness vanished but does not know what to do, since the authorities are not willing to take stricter action. Here comes in the role of the non governmental organizations. MWT has started an annual Street Art Competition to engage the youth into scraping off the posters and advertisements from the walls of the city, and painting them with beautiful patriotic themes that reflect the Pakistani culture in the form of street art. This competition has been held twice so far, and as the youth becomes more aware of it, their burgeoning interest in it becomes more visible. Thus given the opportunities, most ordinary citizens are willing to work to get rid of this menace for the betterment of the society.
Causes and Effects of Wall Chalking in Pakistan
Wall chalking in Lahore and rest of Pakistan has been a problem since time immemorial for the Pakistanis. According to one source, in Pakistan it first began to burgeon under the Ayub Khan era, by the students active in the movements to bring change. However, this only accounts for the political wall chalking (Khashkheli, J. 2009). The same source claims that according to a retired professor tracing the wall-chalking problem since partition; it first began by small enterprises using wall chalking to advertise their products, such as toffees and biscuits. While this activity might have been in interest of the general public at that time (students using it to raise awareness for democracy), it has become a huge menace now. It has seen a lot of growth in recent years with the increment in the trend of product advertising, the need to promote election campaigns, and the growing frustration in public. By wall chalking, we refer to everything put on walls of the city without the consent of the authorities. When graffiti painting is done on walls without the property owner’s consent, it is vandalism, which is punishable by law in most countries around the world. However, here in Pakistan, many people and organizations use it as free source of advertisement and sometimes refer to it as street art, and there is no proper enforcement of the law against it. It has become the ugliest form of the freedom of expression. Words devour the city’s every single visible space: from herbal practitioners advertising impotency cures to political and religious slogans. In a country fighting economic and political instability, facing an uncertain future, these ‘wall chalkings’ form a rich combination of contradictory messages. Why do...