Once Upon A Time in Pakistan… [1.3 ]

A modern ‘rail car’ made in Pakistan in  collaboration with Japanese engineers, parked at the Lahore Railway Station in 1964. Popular with travellers wanting to move rapidly between cities, the cars were commissioned out of service in the 1980s.



by Nadeem F. Piracha


Crowds gather at a runway at the Karachi Airport to witness a ‘flying parade’ and joint military exercises of American and Pakistani armed forces.


Pakola123A 1955 bottle of softdrink made in Pakistan. Today every Pakistani knows about Pakola Ice-Cream Soda. Many call it, unofficially though this bright green coloured soft-drink as  ‘Pakistan’s national soft-drink.’ However, in its first few years the drink struggled to find a market for itself that was packed with popular but imported soft-drinks such as Coca-Cola, 7Up and Bubble-Up.
Then in 1955 it even had to print the words ‘Non-Alcoholic’ on its bottles, because thanks to its striking colour, some stores (in Karachi) actually began storing it alongside their stock of alcoholic beverages! By the 1970s however, te drink had finally established itself as a popular soft-drink.


The charismatic Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of the popular US President, John F. Kennedy, visited Pakistan in 1962. Here she is seen riding in an open-top limo with the then ruler of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, in the Saddar area of Karachi – jam-packed by young men and women, who had gathered on both sides of the road to greet her.


The first page of a detailed book written by a professional travel writer from the United States. The book was published in early 1962 – a time when various American airlines and travel writers were heavily promoting Pakistan as a tourist destination. The image is that of Karachi’s Zoological Garden that was then called the Gandhi Garden.


A 1963 brochure printed by the government of Pakistan. The influx of western tourists arriving in the country had risen by the time this brochure was published. It contained maps and names of famous tourist spots, beaches, mountain resorts, hotels, nightclubs and bars in the country (both in West and former East Pakistan).


The iconic Mausoleum of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, under construction in Karachi. This picture was taken in 1965. The imposing structure was finally completed almost five years later.


A 1966 Pakistani press ad announcing the launch of famous Australian car, Valiant, in Pakistan. It was one of the first cars to be assembled in Pakistan. –Picture courtesy DAWN.


A 1967 image of the American Embassy in Karachi. It was one of the most recognisable buildings in Karachi’s Abdullah Haroon Road area. Built in 1958, the Embassy, apart from handling the visa issuing operations, also had a large library. As can be seen in the picture, it hardly had any barriers or security and its doors were open to all. However, from the late 1980s onwards, when Islamist violence began to rise within Pakistan, the Embassy was fortified by a tall wall.
Later, especially after the tragic 9/11 event and after the building faced at least three terror attacks in the 2000’s, the walls were thickened, barriers placed and security tightened. The library that was hugely popular with Karachi’s school and collage students was closed and the visa section was moved to Islamabad. In 2011, the building was abandoned and the Embassy was moved to a different location in Karachi. The building still stands, though.


A scene of a snow-covered street in Quetta (1968). The street, called Layton Road, today has lost almost all of the beautiful old trees that are seen in the picture.


This poster attacking the ‘imperialist grip of the American CIA’ over various ‘third world countries’ (including Pakistan) began appearing on the walls of the colleges and universities in Karachi and Lahore in 1968. The poster was originally designed in South America but was reproduced in Pakistan by radical leftist student groups during their movement against Ayub Khan’s  dictatorship (1968-69). –Poster courtesy Rashid Chaudhry.


Students belonging to the left-wing National Students Federation campaign during a student union elections at the Karachi University in 1969. –Picture courtesy: Tarek Fateh


A young Pakistani woman sitting on her motorbike in the Soldier Bazzar area of Karachi (1969). –Picture courtesy Zarmeena P.

Early 1970s

An early 1970s press ad of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). PIA was considered to be one of the ten best airlines in the world between 1962 and 1980. In those days PIA constantly scored high for having ‘best in-flight entertainment,’ business class, ‘most convenient connections’, ‘delicious cuisine’ and ‘a wide selection of wine, whiskeys and beer.’


Girls taking part in a swimming competition at a sports complex in Karachi in 1970.


The first men on the moon land in Pakistan. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (the first men to land on the moon), arrived in Karachi in early 1970 during their tour of South Asia. Here they are seen being greeted by an enthusiastic crowd just outside the Karachi Airport. –Picture courtesy LIFE.

June 1971

An intriguing June 1971 photograph of a West Pakistani soldier searching an East Pakistani Bengali in Dhaka (the former capital of East Pakistan).  –Picture courtesy LIFE.


Two displaced and poverty-stricken children stand in an open field surrounded by used artillery shells in a village in former war-torn East Pakistan (1971).

Dec 1971

The December 1971 cover of Time magazine. The main story detailed the breaking away of former East Pakistan (after a bloody civil war with the West Pakistan army). The picture is that of a Bengali militant celebrating the defeat of the West Pakistan military.


A stamp celebrating Pakistan’s victory in the 1971 Hockey World Cup held in Barcelona, Spain


A college student poses in front of a street in Quetta in 1972. Today, Quetta is plagued by brutal violence involving Sunni sectarian outfits, Baloch nationalist groups and Pakistan army.


A 1972 picture showing European visitors and local Christians seen during a passing out ceremony at a Catholic school in Rawalpindi. –Picture courtesy John Meacham.


A young 8-year-old Shahrukh Khan (current Bollywood star) visited Pakistan with his family (as a tourist) in 1973. Here he is seen during his family’s visit to Swat. –Picture courtesy Luqman Ghauri.


A poster of 1973 film ‘Operation Pakistan.’ A B-grade film made by a Greek director, the film was released in Pakistan in 1973. It is about the adventures of an FBI agent who tracks down hashish smugglers in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. The characters of Pakistanis (seen in picture below left) were all played by amateur Pakistani actors. The film was a box-office flop.


A 1973 press ad of the famous Hotel Midway House in Karachi. The hotel was owned and run by PIA. It was located near Karachi Airport and was popular with tourists and locals alike for its barbeque restaurant and nightclub. It was eventually closed down in the mid-1980s.


A 1974 photograph showing the inside of a ‘hashish house’ in Quetta.


A 1974 T-Shirt.


A Swiss tourist gets his car’s tank filled at a gas station on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border (1974).


A European tourist with two students of the Peshawar University in an old street of Peshawar (1974).


A European tourist family outside a rest house in Murree, 1974


Tourism in Pakistan grew two-fold in the 1970s. This special stamp was issued by the country’s Ministry of Tourism in 1975.


Tourists enjoy a buggy ride outside Peshawar’s Hotel Intercontinental (1975).


Pakistani actress and model, Bindia, at a cultural festival in Karachi (1975).


Famous revolutionary poet, late Habib Jalib, enjoys a drink with veteran journalist, late Khalid Hassan, and friends at a restaurant in Karachi in 1975.


A promotional shot of famous PTV play, Uncle Urfi (1975). It was one of the first PTV serials that is said to have ‘made roads empty of cars and people’ during the time of its telecast (8 PM every Saturday).


Western tourists jam with a Pakistani tabla player in Karachi (1975).


A group of European tourists travelling and enjoying a cup of tea on a Pakistani train, 1976.


Pakistani test cricketers Sikandar Bakht and Javed Miandad in 1976.


Before the great champions of world squash, Janagir Khan and Jansher Khan in squash, there was Qamar Zaman. Here he is seen arguing with the umpire while on his way to beat the then No: 1, the Australian, Jeff Hunt, during a final played in Karachi in 1976.


A German tourist outside a ‘ hashish shop’ in the tribal areas of former NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), 1976.
With the state of Pakistan having little influence in such areas, shops selling hashish sprang up when young western tourists began pouring  into Pakistan from Afghanistan [from the late 1960s onwards. See also ‘Hippie Trail’ in Also-Pakistan I, II and III]. Today however, these areas are strictly off-limits not only to foreigners but also Pakistanis due to the war between Islamist insurgents and the Pakistan military. The fate of such shops is now unknown. -Picture courtesy Dan Atkinson

April 1977

1977 cover of famous Pakistani Urdu magazine, Dhanak. Radical in outlook but perfect in aesthetics, the magazine was hugely popular with young men and women. It covered fashion trends, ran film reviews and also had left-leaning articles on politics. A number of noted progressive Urdu intellectuals such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Munir Niazi, Mumtaz Mufti, etc., wrote regularly for Dhanak.
Dhanak was edited and published by Sarwar Sukhera. In 1979 it became the first publication to be directly clamped down by the reactionary Ziaul Haq dictatorship that took over power through a military coup in July 1977.
Deemed as ‘anti-Islam’ by the Zia regime, Dhanak offices were attacked by Jamat-e-Islami goons and Sarwar was arrested for committing ‘treason’. Sarwar went into exile after the magazine was shut down. –Picture courtesy: Laleen Khan.


An American Christian evangelist addressing Pakistani Christians and converts in a village near Abbotabad in 1977. -Picture courtesy Williamson


A 1978 French release of an album by famous Pakistani Qawali group, the Sabri Brothers.


Cover of a live album by popular Indian ghazal duo, Jagjit and Chitra. The album was recorded during one of the many live concerts the duo played during their tour of Pakistan in 1978.

late 1970s

Altaf Gohar and Khalid Hassan with Noble Prize winning Pakistani scientist, Dr. Abdus Salam (centre) in the late 1970s.


A special stamp released by the government of Pakistan to mark the centenary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi (1978).


Pakistani star batsman, Javed Miandad, smashes the stumps after being given out LBW in a test match against India (1979).


Imran Khan was one of the first Pakistani cricketers to appear in press ads and TV commercials. Here he is seen with Indian batsman, Sunil Gavaskar, in a 1979 ad for Indian soft-drink, Thumbs-up.


Pakistan Peoples Party supporters mourn and pray just outside the grounds (in Rawalpindi) where PPP Chairman and former Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged by the Ziaul Haq dictatorship in April 1979. This picture was taken in October 1979.

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13 replies to “Once Upon A Time in Pakistan… [1.3 ]

  1. in love with this pakistan i wish these times come again the golden age 😦 where there were no check posts no terrorisom … 😦 i am a 19 year old student and i wish for these times … i want a change

  2. Dear Friends
    Same tourist are now terrorist, Pakistan is now ugly because these terrorist will demolish pakistan,, Please God save us from Terrorist…

  3. The Golden time Allah save our Pakistan. I appreciate this blog and pray for those who worked hard for this great effort.

  4. in mentioned ‘June 1971′ photograph with caption “An intriguing June 1971 photograph” the soldier is in fact an Indian solder and the guy/villager a suspected collaborator [Razakar]. The picture was taken by famous Indian photographer Kishor Parekh, who came to Bangladesh in December 1971 with the Indian Mountain Regiment as an ’embedded photo-journalist’. Thus the photo was taken in December not June 71.

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