This was also Pakistan [ 3.2 ]

A vibrant 1973 poster prepared and printed by the Pakistan Ministry of Tourism to attract tourism to the city of Lahore.



by Nadeem F. Paracha



Pakistani rock band Irwin’s Error (1973): The band was made up of (from left) Irfan Bawany (guitar), Tuppu (drums), Uruj Malik (bass) and Owne Patrick (keyboards). Bands like Irwin’s Terror were different from the famous bands of the era that played exclusively at nightclubs (see bellow). Irwin’s Error played harder versions of rock music and mostly performed at high school parties. (Picture courtesy:


A special stamp released by government of Pakistan in 1973, to plead the return of the 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war captured by the Indian forces during the 1971 war.
Pakistan lost its eastern wing (East Pakistan) in the war. The break gave birth to Bangladesh.


A 1973 photo of Nawaz Sharif. Sharif came from a business family and according to a biography (published in 2004), he was a music and film enthusiast and a PPP/Bhutto supporter at college (in the late 1960s).
In the 1970s his family had a falling out with the PPP regime when it nationalised a large part of the Sharif family’s businesses.
Nawaz joined politics in the 1980s, guided by anti-PPP dictator, Zia-ul- Haq. Today his party, the PML-N, is the second largest political party in Pakistan after the PPP.


A 1974 photo showing famous Karachi pop band the Captivators performing at the Playboy nightclub on Karachi’s Club Road. The club was closed down in 1977. (Picture courtesy:


A section of a bar in Karachi seen in 1974.
Before the sale of alcohol beverages was banned (to Muslims) in Pakistan in April, 1977, Karachi had the largest number of bars in the country.
This particular bar (called “Karachi On”) was situated at Elphinstone Street, in the Saddar area of Karachi. The area was home to a number of nightclubs.
The picture belongs to Ali Huda Shah, whose maternal uncle was the owner of the bar. It was shut down in April 1977.
Today, though there are no public bars in Pakistan, however, licensed liquor outlets selling local beer, whiskey, gin and rum brands still operate in Karachi and the rest of Sindh.
The makers of these local brands are some of the leading tax-paying companies in the country.

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Army troops patrol the streets opposite Club Road and near PIDC building in Karachi, during the anti-Ayub Khan protest movement in 1969.
The picture was taken by a foreign tourist from his room at the Hotel Intercontinental (now, Pearl Continental), which is situated diagonally opposite the PIDC building.


A 1974 press ad of Red & White cigarettes. Just like in other airports of the world at the time, smoking was allowed in all areas of Pakistani airports as well. The shoot for this ad took place at the old Karachi Airport that worked as a hub in the region and was one of the busiest airports in Asia receiving up to 60 flights in an hour from around the world.
The man is sitting at a famous waiting lounge/restaurant at the airport (Sky Grill) that also had a full bar and was the only place at the airport that was centrally air-conditioned.


A still from one of the most famous one-off plays on Pakistan television, ‘Quratul Ain’ (1975).
It starred Naveen Tajik (right), a Pakistani Christian, who, along with Roohi Bano and Uzma Gillani, was hailed as one of the finest TV actresses in Pakistan (in the 1970s).
‘Quratul Ain’ (scripted by Ashfaq Ahmed) tells the story of a young man who wants to join the air force and is in love with a girl (Qurat).
Passionate about joining the air force, the young man is distraught after he begins to lose his eye sight.
Qurat tells him she doesn’t care and that they should get married. The young man agrees but then vanishes. Not even his family knows about his whereabouts. Qurat waits for him but is finally coaxed by her father to find another man.
Many years later she accompanies her husband to a Sufi shrine from where she wants to buy some bangles.
As the husband goes looking for a bangles shop, Qurat stumbles upon a blind Sufi fakir (vagabond) selling bangles from a sack.
He has long hair and a beard. He asks for one of her hands so he could put the bangles over her wrist. It’s her lost lover. She does not recognise him.
But he recognises her the moment he holds her hand. In shock, he lets go of his sack and her hand and vanishes into the crowd. It is left to the audience to figure out whether a surprised Qurat realises who the man was.
The play was part of PTV’s ‘Aik Muhabbat Soh Afsaney’ series in which Sufi themes were set in modern urban settings.
Naveen, though hugely successful as a TV actress and fashion model, failed to make a mark in films. She left for the US in the early 1980s.


Poster and still from 1975’s Pakistani film, ‘Dulhan Aik Raat Ki’ (A Bride for One Night).
The flick was Pakistan’s first Urdu film advertised as ‘For Adults Only.’ In the mid-1970s, British and American ‘adult films’ had become a hugely successful outing for young middle-class Pakistanis and couples, and by 1974-75, films (especially in Karachi) labelled ‘For Adults Only,’ were doing a roaring business.
Karachi’s Rio Cinema and Palace Cinema became known for running such films (Rio today is a gaudy shopping mall while Palace was converted into a marriage hall).
Such films were mainly low-budget European and American romantic farces in which nudity scenes and sexual content were allowed to be shown by the censors, thus the tag: ‘For Adults Only’.
Inspired by the period’s ‘Adult Film’ phenomenon, Mumtaz Ali Khan directed Pakistan’s first Urdu film that was ‘For Adults Only.’ It was appropriately called ‘Dulhan Aik Raat Ki’.
Staring late Badar Munir (then known as the ‘Charles Bronson of Pakistan) and a number of famous 1970s Punjabi and Pushtun film actresses, it was a raunchy fusion of violent Italian spaghetti westerns and 1970s European soft-porn.
It was disallowed a re-release in the 1980s by the Zia dictatorship and was only made available (on VHS) in the late 1980s. It is still not available on DVD, but can be found on VCD.


Former Pakistani Test batsman Sadiq Muhammad (left) and former Pakistan cricket captain, Mushtaq Muhammad, share a beer in Sydney in January, 1977.
The picture was taken inside the players’ dressing room at the Sydney Cricket Ground after Pakistan defeated a strong Australian Test side. This was Pakistan’s first Test victory against Australia in Australia. With the victory, Pakistan squared the series 1-1 after being one down in the series. Seen in the background is a shirtless Imran Khan who took 12 wickets in the match.


A shelf in a shop displaying Scotch whiskey brands in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s ‘Bara market’ (smugglers’ market) in 1977.
The market was popular with both foreign tourists as well as Pakistanis coming from Karachi and Lahore to buy imported and/or smuggled cloth, clothes, shoes, electronic good and foreign whiskey brands.
The Bara area began to come under the influence of Islamist groups from the late 1980s and today the area has no such market and is in the grip of a violent and bloody conflict between armed fundamentalist outfits and the state of Pakistan.


End of an era: Karachi on the day the reactionary military junta led by Zia-ul- Haq toppled the Z A Bhutto regime (July 5, 1977). In the background is a large cinema that closed down in the 1980s.


A 1978 picture of Iggy Fernandez, famous Pakistani guitar player, who committed suicide in 1980.
Iggy belonged to the Goan Christian community of Karachi that was very active in the city’s pop music scene in the 1960s and 1970s. He often performed solo at nightclubs and was dubbed as the ‘Jimi Hendrix of Pakistan.’
Exceptionally talented, Iggy got caught-up in a vicious love triangle that led him to jump from the roof of Hotel Metropole in Karachi, in 1981.
The few recordings of his performances that survived his tragic demise went on to influence moody guitar wizards like Aamir Zaki. (Picture courtesy:


Pakistan cricket team’s famous pace duo, Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz, at a nightclub in Melbourne in 1981.
The picture was taken during Pakistan team’s 1981 tour of Australia. Architects of various wins by the Pakistan team in the 1970s and early 1980s, Imran and Sarfraz who were both best friends but had a major falling out as politicians in the 1990s.
Sarfraz, a long-time Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) supporter, joined the PPP after retirement (in 1988) whereas Khan formed his own party (1996). Nawaz changed allegiances last year, when he switched to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).


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Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and

You might also like: 

1. Picturing Pakistan’s Past [in two parts] 2. Those were the days my friend [in three parts]
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