Kite Running Banned
December 10, 2005 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Kite Running Banned. For those who read The Kite Runner and who may be waiting for the movie, a bit of info from "real-life." Pakistan has banned the practice because it's too dangerous.
posted by johngumbo (30 comments total)
Now how will shamed former bank employees reach a happy resolution with their children, after one of them induces a run on the bank?
posted by sindark at 12:05 PM on December 10, 2005

That's weird how when you click on the last link, the first link lights up.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:33 PM on December 10, 2005

Your first and last links don't go to anything about kites.
posted by Mitheral at 12:37 PM on December 10, 2005

When I click on the link (check on two browsers) I get this article:

December 10, 2005
Pakistan's Supreme Court Extends Kite Ban

Filed at 8:54 a.m. ET

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's Supreme Court has extended a ban on making, selling and flying kites that it imposed two months ago after ruling that the sport has become increasingly deadly, an official said Saturday.

The court decided on Friday to extend the ban until it meets next on Jan. 26, said Aftab Iqbal, advocate general for eastern Punjab province, of which Lahore is the capital.

While the court was hearing the case, police swung batons and lobbed tear gas shells outside the building to disperse about 500 kite-makers and kite-flying enthusiasts who were trying to attend the proceedings.

Lahore is the site of Basant, an annual kite-flying festival where tens of thousands of people fly kites from rooftops and sports fields.

Hardline Muslims oppose Basant as a waste of money and consider it a Hindu festival. It is also celebrated with loud music and yellow dresses.

The sport sometimes turns deadly when people die from wounds from metal kite strings or falls from roofs. The Supreme Court on Oct. 25 decided to ban kite flying in view of the increasing deaths, Iqbal said.

About 19 people died and more than 200 were injured in February this year during Basant, which means 'yellow' in the Hindi language and heralds spring.

Iqbal said the government is planning to pass a law for a partial or complete ban on kite flying or restricting kites to fields or open spaces.

'A draft law would be ready for examination by the Supreme Court when it meets next time,' he said.

Violations of the Supreme Court ban can be punished by up to six months in jail.

A lawyer representing 90 kite manufacturers who oppose the kite flying ban said it will make some 100,000 people jobless and denied the festival was linked to Hinduism.

'The festivity has nothing to do with religion,' Malik Abdul Qayyum said.
posted by johngumbo at 12:46 PM on December 10, 2005

It is necessary to be registered with the New York Times in order to access the article.
posted by Cranberry at 12:54 PM on December 10, 2005

When kite flying was legalized in Afghanistan, it was trumpeted by the Bush administration as the triumph of a free society over an oppressive one.

I assume that they will now condemn Pakistan for this assault on civil liberties. After all, they are not hypocrites.
posted by Jatayu das at 1:20 PM on December 10, 2005

Man, its like an Onion story "Church goers vote to ban fun."
posted by jeffburdges at 2:20 PM on December 10, 2005

Why does the poster keep refering to it as "kite running"? They can't be doing too much running if they're doing it from rooftops.
posted by delmoi at 3:46 PM on December 10, 2005

Uh, the first and last link point to the same thing, an NYT article.
posted by delmoi at 3:47 PM on December 10, 2005

I don't really understand it, but if 19 people died in the last kite flying festival, it might be a good idea to ban it.
posted by gsteff at 4:08 PM on December 10, 2005

The Kite Runner refers to the title of the book in the second link.

As far as I understand it, the deal is that the kites are skillfully maneuvered to "fight" and one of them cuts the string of the other. At which point it becomes a competition to see who can run after it and recover the losing kite.

It sounds like more fun that just watching a kite float peacefully in the sky. I understand how doing this from rooftops could be dangerous. So perhaps banning that could be justified. But I don't understand how people could die from kite string wounds.
posted by sacrilicious at 4:34 PM on December 10, 2005

"New York Bans Slot-Car Racing". Ha, yea, apparently anything can be taken to extremes. But whatever, let Darwin do his thing.

Does anyone remember those black Delta shaped kites from the '70s with the red and/or yellow eyes? They were awesome.

And what's wrong with dog fighting? We used to tape and tie those Gilette double sided razors to our strings and wing tips and would shred the crap out of each others kites. THAT was a BLAST! I highly recommend it (with adult supervision.)
posted by snsranch at 5:21 PM on December 10, 2005

My friend wears a bullet around his neck and sports a nasty scar on his torso from a kite flying festival in Lahore his parent's took him to when he was four. I guess (at least at the time (early 80's)) it was popular to fire lots of guns in the air and he was unfortunate enough to get shot as one fell back to earth.
posted by Falconetti at 5:36 PM on December 10, 2005

I also remember reading somewhere that the metal lines used for kite fighting were destroying the shit out of utility lines and people's rooftop antennas in Karachi and was banned there for awhile. I was amounting to a significant amount of damage every week (not just during the Basant festival).
posted by Falconetti at 5:38 PM on December 10, 2005

Two points:

a) As much as I think the NY Times was trying to pass this off as a Hindu versus Muslim thing in Pakistan, and for sure, there will be folks who'd do just that, I doubt that's the main angle; note that they haven't banned Basant (=='spring'), merely kite-flying.

(And I say this as someone who is looking forward to get back to India in time for the kite-flying oppurtunities next month during Basant Panchami/ Sankranti.)

b) Which brings us to the real problem at hand. Is it me, or isn't anyone bothered that Pakistan's Supreme Court has just taken a legislative decision? Surely, it isnt the court's prerogative to respond to a public safety concern; if any, it is the local city corporation that should. After all, they're the ones who laid all those dangerous electric lines in the first place.
posted by the cydonian at 5:51 PM on December 10, 2005

I find it odd that the Supreme Court of Pakistan banned something; you'd think that would be the job of the legislature.
posted by reverendX at 5:52 PM on December 10, 2005

oops, cydonian beat me
posted by reverendX at 5:53 PM on December 10, 2005

The deltas commonly were from Hi-Flier Kites, which was based where I now live, and have family from.

I used to love the packages my grandmother (now sadly deceased) would send to me when I was a child in California. She'd march right down to the factory and, I swear, get me one of everything they had that year. One package a year, for my birthday.

The hours of fun I would have with those.

Distressingly, a few years ago, I headed back to that area during a family visit and the sparse hills I would pedal out to and fly my kites from were gone, amassed into a flat, charmless development spotted with identical boxes.

That helped found a lifelong love of kites. Kite flying for me is an odd experience of both Zen calm and a happy indulgence of the competitive side of my nature.

(BTW, I do keep a disassembled nylon mini-delta in my trunk, in case opportunity should present itself...)
posted by Samizdata at 6:37 PM on December 10, 2005

After scanning some of the Pakistani press, it appears that the Supreme Court of Pakistan, taking 'suo moto' notice imposed a one-month ban in October on kite-flying and trade in kites and strings. It would seem to me that the Court took it upon itself to impose this ban and to direct the provincial Punjab Government to enforce the ban because of deaths and injuries caused by razor sharp string used by kite fliers and because that string has caused significant damage to electricity lines in Lahore.

A full bench of the Court was reconstituted to impose some sort of regulatory regime on kite-flying. The Punjab Government conducted a survey in the province to canvass public opinion regarding the sport. Curiously, a significant majority, according to the survey, supports the ban, but understandably so, given that I read elsewhere that since 1995 over 400 people have died in Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city and kite-flying capital, due to kite-flying incidents.

Someone asked above how kite-string can hurt people. Because kite-fliers compete to cut each others' kites, they use chemicals and powdered glass to make the string razor-sharp. Kite-flying is very popular in Lahore's old city which is very crowded, with narrow streets. Occasionally, once a kite has been cut, it will fall and the string will straddle a narrow alley. The most common way in which that string will kill someone is that someone on a motorbike will ride straight into that string at neck height and the string will cut through. Gruesome.

That said, it is a very beautiful and exciting sport. One could argue that the Supreme Court is overreacting and an outright ban on kite flying, rather than on the razor sharp string or wire, but it seems that the provincial government failed to adequately enforce the pre-existing ban on dangerous string/wire.

Here are some pictures of Basant in Lahore in the past year. Here are some more.

While I've never seen this myself, the latest development in Lahore kite-flying, is 'night-flying', where people place lights on rooftops and fly white kites.
posted by Azaadistani at 10:19 PM on December 10, 2005

"... police swung batons and lobbed tear gas shells ..."

That'll keep people from getting hurt!
posted by knave at 11:35 PM on December 10, 2005

I simply can't wrap my mind around 400 kite flying related deaths in a single year. You would think after maybe....the first 300 decapitations....people would stop flying death kites.
posted by parallax7d at 2:13 AM on December 11, 2005

Crap, now I guess I'll have to go back to playing Grand Theft Auto. :(
posted by deusdiabolus at 4:55 AM on December 11, 2005

You would think after maybe....the first 300 decapitations....people would stop flying death kites.

Clearly spoken by someone who's never been to Pakistan. As for India, I can't speak from experience, but I presume the story there is much the same, as far as living life on the edge and being tolerant of risks and environmental conditions that would freak most people out in North America. I lived in Manhattan for four years, and I was scared by the traffic in Karachi. That should tell you something.

(There was a terrorist bombing of a bank building while I was there too, but that didn't faze anybody either.)
posted by skoosh at 7:13 AM on December 11, 2005

As an Indian, I can't imagine not being able to fly kites on Makar Sankrant, on Jan. 14th.
posted by riffola at 8:53 AM on December 11, 2005

Azaadistani scribbled "is 'night-flying', where people place lights on rooftops and fly white kites."

It'd be cool to fly a light equipped kite at night. A kite would have no trouble lifting a few hearing aid batteries and a dozen LEDs.

(Quick Google): Well what do you know.
posted by Mitheral at 11:30 AM on December 11, 2005

Skoosh, that's interesting. Why are they so tolerant of death risks? Didn't they have Darwinism in their evolution like us North Americans?
posted by parallax7d at 12:05 PM on December 11, 2005

parallax7d scribbled "Why are they so tolerant of death risks? "

It's not that they are unusually tolerant it's that Americans and to a lesser extent Canadians are much less tolerant. Check out the WRC for example. Whether it's Australia, Mexico, Norway, Greece or Great Britian they routinely run open stages through towns and spectators line the stages, including the outsides of curves, so close they could touch the cars going by. And when a car goes off spectators jump to right the car and push it back on stage. Something I don't think we will be seeing at nascar anytime soon. Baja has offroad trucks running flat out down roads thru towns in Mexico that aren't even closed. Or how about those guys that run with the bulls? Can you see that flying in the US?
posted by Mitheral at 6:39 PM on December 11, 2005

Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan (Last paragraph refers to risk of death and injury.)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:48 PM on December 11, 2005

I guess this is really no different than banning lawn darts
posted by jeblis at 11:22 PM on December 11, 2005

Info on Indian Fighting Kites courtesy of Lee Valley Tools.
posted by Pseudonumb at 1:16 AM on December 12, 2005

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