Picturing Pakistan’s Past [ 2.2 ]

A 1973 album cover (that was then turned into a poster) of Pakistani film playback singer and pop icon, Runna Laila. This poster became popular with college students and could be found gracing the walls of their hostel rooms right along-side posters of Che Gurevara, Mao tse Tung, etc.
Laila was a Bengali hailing from East Pakistan. Her songs attracted the attention and adoration of the Pakistani youth in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Though she did not leave West Pakistan after East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971, she finally decided to go and become a Bangladeshi citizen in 1974.



by Nadeem F. Paracha


Following is a sequel to the illustrated feature Also Pakistan.

There is very little memory left of a Pakistan that today almost seems like an alien planet compared to what it has been ever since the mid-1980s.

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A tourism bus operated by Pakistan’s Ministry of Tourism taking western tourists on a sight-seeing ride in Karachi (1974). Such buses were decorated keeping in mind the time’s ‘hippie aesthetics.’

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A 21-year-old Benazir Bhutto sitting on the porch of her father Z A. Bhutto’s house in Karachi (1974). Benazir would go on to lead her father’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after he was hanged to death by General Zia-ul-Haq in April 1979.
In the 1990s she was twice elected as Pakistan’s prime minister before tragically losing her life at the hands of Islamic militants in December 2007.

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A 1974 photo of famous Pakistani cricketer, Imran Khan, in typically flashy and expressive 1970s attire. Equally famous of being an ‘over indulgent playboy,’ Khan became a ‘born-again Muslim’ after he retired from cricket in 1990 and then formed a political party (in 1996).
A group of American tourists on a ‘crabbing trip’ in Karachi. ‘Crabbing’ (catching crabs) was a thriving tourist activity in Karachi where tourists would rent boats from the coastal Kimari area of the city and ‘go crabbing.’ The boats mostly belonged to men belonging to the ‘Afro-Pakistani’ community in Karachi and some of them had small barbecue kitchens and bars fitted in the boats. The boats are still there, but not the tourists.

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Soundtrack album (LP) of 1975 Pakistani film, ‘Shabana.’ The film starred one of the leading Pakistani film actresses and sex symbol of the 1970s, Barbra Sharif.

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A 1975 poster showing some of Pakistan’s most popular Sindhi, Baloch, Pushtun and Punjabi folk performers. The poster was printed in the United States where these performers went to perform at the ‘American Folklife Concert’ in Washington DC.
Indigenous Pakistani folk culture and music were aggressively patronised by the populist government of Z A. Bhutto. Some analysts suggest that this was at least one part of his regime’s strategy to co-opt nationalist sentiments simmering among Sindhi, Baloch and Pushtun nationalists.

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A European couple outside a cheap hotel in Peshawar in 1975. A number of such hotels had sprung up in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi to accommodate the rising tide of Western backpackers that began arriving from the late 1960s onwards. Can’t explain the gun holster, though. Most probably it’s empty.

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Famous 1970s Iranian pop singer and icon Madam Googoosh on the cover of a Persian magazine, ‘Beta.’ Googoosh toured Pakistan in 1975 and became a huge hit with concert and TV audiences.
She planned to return for another series of concerts in Pakistan but after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran she was banned by the new Iranian regime.

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Wife of Pakistan’s first popularly elected Prime Minister, Nusrat Bhutto, representing Pakistan at a 1975 conference in Mexico. Some observers believe she was far more progressive than her ‘socialist’ husband (Z A. Bhutto).

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Pakistani TV actors, Akbar Subhani, Shakeel and RJ on the set of a PTV play (1975). Subhani went on to become an accomplished stage actor, while Shakeel (centre) had already risen as a star on TV in the 1970s.

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Some young members of the Pakistan cricket team living it up at a nightclub (1976). Seen (from left): The hard-hitting and flamboyant Wasim Raja (bearded); opener Mudassar Nazar; fast bowler Sikandar Bakht and batsman, Javed Miandad.
Notice the tone used in the caption of the photograph that appeared in a Pakistani English daily. It is upbeat and matter-of-fact, unlike the condemning tone that (mostly Urdu press) began to use for ‘partying cricketers’ after early 1980s.

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A 1976 photo showing famous Pakistani pop star, Alamgir, sharing a joke with popular TV actor and comedian, late Moin Akhtar. The photo was taken just before an Alamgir concert in Karachi that was hosted by Moin.

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Western tourists enjoy beer at the poolside of Karachi’s Intercontinental Hotel (1976). -Photo courtesy Rory McLane.

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American tourists travelling to Lahore from Karachi on a Pakistan Railways train (1976). -Photo courtesy Murad Husain and Bina Ahmed.

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A group of college girls relaxing outside their college in Karachi (1976).

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DAWN headline about the military take-over of General Ziaul Haq (July 1977). The elections did not take place ‘next October.’ Zia ruled for 11 years. Pakistan was never the same again.

The dark age of Zia’s hypocritical rule in the name of Islam made poet Habib Jalib to express his thoughts on the long dark night of the Generals in following words:
Zulmat ko Zia Sar-sar ko Sba, Banday ko Khuda kya likhna
Deewar ko Dar, Pathar ko Guhar, Jugnu ko diya kya likhna
Ik Hashr bapa hai Ghar Ghar mein, Dum ghut’ta hai Gumbad-e-bedar mein
Ik Shakhs kay hathon muddat se, ruswa hai Watan Dunya bhar mein
Aay Deeda-waro iss Zillat ko, Kismet ka likha kya likhna
Zulmat ko Zia Sar-sar ko Sba, Banday ko Khuda kya likhna
Logon pe hi hum ne Jaan wari, ki hum ne inhi ki Gham-khwari
Hotay hain toh hon ye Haath qalam, Sha’ir na banain ge Darbari
Iblees numa Insanon ki, aye Dost sana kia likhna
Zulmat ko Zia Sar-sar ko Sba, Banday ko Khuda kya likhna
Haq Baat pe Korhay aur Zindaan, Batil ke Shikanje main hai ye jaan
Insaan hain ke sehme bethe hain, khoon-khwar Darinde hain raqsaan
Iss Zulm-o-Sitam ko Lutf-oKkaram, iss Dukh ko Dawa kya likhna
Zulmat ko Zia Sar-sar ko Sba, Banday ko Khuda kya likhna
Har Shaam yahan Shaam-e-weeran, Aaseb zada raste Galiyan
Jis Shehr ki dhun main nikle thay, woh Shehr Dil-e-barbad kahan
Sehra ko Chaman Bann ko Gulshan Badal ko Rida kia likhna
Zulmat ko Zia Sar-sar ko Sba, Banday ko Khuda kya likhna
Aye mere Watan ke Fankaro, Zulmat pe na apna fan waro
Ye Mehl Sara’on ke Baasi, Qatil hain sabhi apne yaro
Wirsay main hamain yeh Gham hai mila, iss Gham ko nayaa kia likhna
Zulmat ko Zia Sar-sar ko Sba, Banday ko Khuda kya likhna


Previous: In spite of Grey Areas, Our Past was a Confident, Tolerant, Joyous Pakistan

Page  1  


You might also like: 

Those were the days my friend [in three parts]

Source of text and all images   except Zia caricature  Jalib’s poem



We at Wonders of Pakistan use copyrighted material the use of which may not have always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” only. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.


4 replies to “Picturing Pakistan’s Past [ 2.2 ]

  1. Will these days ever come back…probably not…
    Key factors contributing to extremism and decay of our society:
    – Corruption at all levels at politcal, civil and military level.
    – Mullah taking hold…no one new how to handle them or eradicate them…
    – Population going unchecked(helped by mullahism).
    – No quality and modern education.
    – Unnessary revolutions/wars in Iran, Afghanistan and then Pakistan being involved.
    – Non-secular curriculum and education of poor being left to unchecked madrassah and ghost schools.
    – Non-secular propagation in newspapers, TV, radio.

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