Smokers cannot only light their cigarettes with a new range of lighters available in the city now but can also view the pictures of their favourite political leaders with the help of the small devices fitted with lenses and flashlights.
The lighters have a small torch at one end which, when turned on with a push-button, beam out pictures of political figures and party insignias.
AdvertisementLighters containing pictures of mainstream political party leaders, including the assassinated Pakistan People's Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Muttahida Qaumi Movement supremo Altaf Hussain and even PML-Q leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, are in great demand. The PPP's "arrow" and the PML-N's "lion" are also available, reports Salman Siddiqi from Karachi, the cultural and economic hub of Pakistan.
A wholesale dealer in lighters at the city's Boulton Market told the Dawn newspaper that Benazir lighters were the top choice of his customers. He said during the February election, lighters beaming the image of the late PPP leader were sold for as high as Rs50 apiece against the current normal price of Rs10.
Back then, Altaf Hussain lighters were also popular, but the highest price received was only Rs25, he said.
Altaf Husain is a much feared leader in the Karachi region. He represents the Muslims displaced from India during the Partition of 1947.
Another shopkeeper said that these days Altaf lighters were in short supply. Lighters containing the slain Baloch leader Akbar Bugti's picture are no longer available.
Three different versions of Benazir lighters are available, each with a different picture. There are two carrying images of Nawaz Sheriff of the PML-N. A smiling Altaf with the MQM flag in the backdrop greets smokers in another lighter.
The lighter beaming President Pervez Musharraf's image in army uniform, with a defiant fist in the air is also popular. When asked why lighters of his nemesis, deposed chief justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Chaudhry, were not available, a retailer said that the judge was not 'in demand.'
Also, even though Quaid-i-Azam lighters are also available, young men prefer buying lighters having al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's picture in a commando jacket instead, he said.
The dealers said all such lighters were manufactured in China and the pictures of the political figures were obtained through the internet.
Lighters sporting PML-N insignia are usually shipped to Punjab, where the party's following is stronger.
Most paan shops keep a random collection of such lighters. But some shopkeepers avoid sell such 'political' lighters. One shopkeeper in the main Khadda Market said he did not want to become embroiled in any controversy and preferred selling lighters having 'sexy' pictures.