4 Pakistani urban legends and other dreadful tales

It is a scary world we live in, there has been a recession that has cost us our jobs and our money when we do have jobs, as to get to work we need cars which run on fuel, and fuel costs almost a hundred rupees per litre. You can’t win! Then there is the huge threat of climate change hanging above our heads like a school bell, ready to ring any second and shocking us into accidentally stabbing ourselves in the ribs with an extra sharp pencil, because real life is as awesome and inexplicable as Korean horror. But nothing is scarier than the stories we have grown up with, things that your friend in school swore happened to her tai’s niece’s friend. This girl lived a charmed life as she managed to find death in every situation but lived to tell her tale and endure yet another fantastically macabre incident. I salute you, She Whom I Have Never Seen. Your adventures in life make me stop wringing my hands over silly things like global warming and Imran Khan’s politics. You, I say, are legend.

In case you’re wondering what our brave but beautiful heroine has gone through in her life, only to come out stronger, allow me to elaborate.


# 4 – The Hathora Group

Now if you were born at a time when you grew up watching Pokemon and not silent cartoons on PTV with your breakfast at 7 a.m., you won’t know anything about it. You probably don’t even know who Sultan Golden is! Dear god, what are you waiting for? Go Google him already. But us kids growing up in the ’80s had a secret fear: ‘If I don’t get those Bubblegummers with blinky lights on, no one will come to my birthday!’ Our lesser fear was of the Hathora Group.

‘Hammer Time’ took on a whole new meaning.

The Hathora Group, my friends, had us terrorized for months to an end. Legend has it that a group of men would break into your house, steal your valuables, and then, like the mercenaries they were, hammer you to death…with hathoras! Too bad Aaron Hotchner and the rest of the Behavioral Analysis guys weren’t around back then. They would have cracked the case immediately, like so many bones with a hammer. Thor’s.

You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about the dreaded Hathora Group. Everyone immediately hired guards and called their men home from Qatar or wherever it was that dudes went to make enough money to build their own homage to the White House back then. Everyone knew someone who had fallen victim to the Group…they have still not been caught and loom like a giant question mark in our minds…and hammers in their hands.


# 3 – The Chadda Group

Enter the ’90s. You remember the ’90s: Spice Girls, IRC, about a zillion douches who called themselves Neo on chat and the sweet agony of not knowing whether Ross and Rachel would ever end up together? Also Junoon before Salman Ahmad’s sense of reality keeled over with embarrassment the first time he said ‘Guys, I know what, why don’t I duet with Atiqa Odho on Jeeain on TV?’ Good times. The ’90s brought their own curse with them: The Chadda Group.

The Chadda Group was definitely more sinister than the Hathora Group in my eyes and if you think my sense of reality has been altered by all the practice runs I am being made to master by my sister in case a zombie apocalypse happens, you are right. My genes are all about the myth and don’t care much for cold, hard fact. Anyway, the Chadda Group.

Trust me, it’s more imposing in real life.

This Group was made of some incredibly agile young men who broke into houses, looted, plundered and attempted assault, and ran off in record time. This was made easy by the fact that they preferred their boxers to pants, and slathered themselves in oil before committing their crime. The oil made it harder for people to hold on to them if they were ever caught, which I don’t believe they were. And despite the fact that my own brain is a little addled by all those days spent reading Rock n Roll Jihad, I maintain that they are scarier because only the very disturbed run around in nothing but their undercrackers and some Dalda.

The Chadda Group was a mystery, but someone should have come to my school where everyone was convinced that the Chadda leader was going out with a girl in my class.


# 2 – The Haunting of Devil’s Point

It actually doesn’t surprise me anymore that the first I heard of all the voodoo and ghost shenanigans that went down regularly at the Devil’s Point in Karachi was from the girl dating the alleged king of Chaddas. This girl, her boyfriend and their friends stalked the area for weeks, looking for the man sitting on a chair in the sea, reading his Quran backwards. Or was it woman? There are a gazillion versions of this story so I forget.

Some say the surfboard was made of human skulls.

Although I’d like to say that if that chair stayed put amidst the waves for all the time it took to read the entire holy book, this guy was doing something right.

Nobody who claimed to have seen this man/ woman/ glittery vampire of magnificence ever actually went up to the guy and spoke to him or tried to stop him though. I say when you see someone practicing the dark arts in a chair by the sea; report them to the Ministry
of Magic immediately, preferably while placing a discreet thumbtack on the chair.


# 1 – Karachi Pocketknife Massacre

It was with a serious face that someone told me a long time ago that I need to start wearing clothes with sleeves on, if I didn’t a special vigilante gang would stab me in the arm with the HIV virus.

And it’s kind of obvious what he would use for that.

She swore her cousin’s friend’s cousin had seen this happen. If I didn’t believe that, my friend said, I should at least watch out for the men going around with concealed knives to slash open the arm of any woman who dared to show some elbow. How I had laughed! How I am laughing now, as I consider the abovementioned scenarios are an actual possibility in Pakistan today.

But life is for the living, and to sum it up appropriately, can someone please make a Pakistani Urban Legend already before Rebecca Gayheart ODs and kills herself (I know I said Pakistani but in my head she does a cameo)?



Categories: The World I Know


I like superhero trivia, Star Wars references, and saying at the end of a conversation about either: 'Yeah, I haven't seen that.' You can read all about it at burgerbachis.blogspot.com


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16 Comments on “4 Pakistani urban legends and other dreadful tales”

  1. Faiza
    November 17, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    You could have mentioned the cannibalism in Bhakhar (a family that eats dead bodies) and Javed Iqbal (the man who killed hundred children in Lahore) These legends are true and scary!

  2. Nemesis
    August 11, 2014 at 4:27 am #

    Anyone remembers Javed Iqbal ?

  3. Shafi Muhammad
    December 8, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    With respect to hammer group it z said that they were russian kbg agents. Their usual targets were those who used to sleep on footpaths. A begger who was victum of the group bt fortunately lived reported that he was sleeping on a footpath at burns road there came a suzuki fx stoped roadside. Four men came out having white clothes n black masks. They hit me wd hammer on my head n i lost my senses.

  4. Nahyan Mirza
    July 1, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    Chadda group was actually called Challawa Group 🙂

  5. January 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Great piece of writing.. i m sure the author is a pro at writing., Keep writing!!! I remember in 1990s we used to discuss about these urban legends at our school and even our parents believed tht they were true 😛

  6. February 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    After sharing this on twitter, I was told that the Hathora group, and the Chaddas, as well as the Sarkattas and Dandas, were all real horror stories. Filtered down to our middle class realities as urban legends I suppose.

    I was reminded of this after reading of the white corolla in Karachiite’s comment. I was working for a news channel then, and it was an actual issue. The car was driven by the son of some high court judge who committed a whole bunch of rapes, and was finally arrested in DHA. They even found wigs and other disguises in his trunk! Of course, since I haven’t linked this to anything, perhaps this is also an urban legend.

    • February 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

      You’re right about the white corolla. It was a big case. He was arrested. I don’t know whether the guy was convicted. Aaj tv interviewed the guy once he was arrested.

      Here’s one link

      and another

      • February 21, 2012 at 11:47 am #

        I remember being outraged about the white corolla incidents [that is such a trivial word to use]. There was a really good oped by Kamal Siddiqi about it in The News around the time, I’ll look around for a link.

  7. Karachiite
    February 19, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    Oh there were so many more on that vein, too! The witches with the backward feet, the girl who got raped at some school by 12 guys in a line where the last one turned out to be her brother, the Jinns that take over you if you stand under a tree at night, the white corolla around Boat Basin (in Karachi) that was snatchin’ up yo’ wives and children.. Can’t remember anymore but it’d be great to revisit all of those. Loved the article!

  8. February 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    I am lol-ing also. Muhahahaha. the incident about the concealed pocket knives supposedly took place at Uzma Arcade, Karachi. Oh how I wore nothing but sleeveless after that.

    “They may take my life but they will NEVER take my sleeveless shirts.”

    Brilliant piece of writing Zainab.

    Ps; does your sister really make you do practice runs in case of a zombie apocalypse? Man, if she does, she’s my hero ;D

  9. گمنام
    February 19, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    In 90s’ lahore we heard of a group with spring loaded shoes, who would jump very high, and could land directly on rooves!! Any of your superheroes does that?

    • February 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      Dude, nothing quite as special. I have to say the best urban legends come from the Punjab.

  10. February 19, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    EPIC. Thanks for writing!

  11. February 19, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    the chadda group was actually called chalawa group! remember being quite terrified of them at a post-birthday sleepover.

  12. February 19, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    OH MY LOLS!!!!! I’ve waited for so long for someone to put this down to virtual paper! This is absolutely brilliant! I had forgotten about the chadda group’s oil slithering shenanigans! Thank you so so much for this post!

    • February 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      Hahah! I’m so happy to have made you all lol, and also that the word shenanigans is catching on!

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