This was also Pakistan [4.2]

A 1960s shot of Karachi’s famous Hotel Metropole, which was famous for its night clubs and bars. The hotel today is being torn down and turned into a shopping and office complex. Half of it has already been turned into a ‘wedding garden.’ Behind it was the Palace Cinema that was extremely popular with college and university students. The cinema was torn down in the 1980s and has since been operating as a ‘marriage hall.’




by Nadeem F. Paracha


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A bar band performing at the Hotel Metropole in the 1960s.

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Wife of US President J. F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy (right), enjoying a camel ride in Karachi during her visit to the city in 1961.

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A 1965 tourism brochure published by the government for tourists interested in visiting the historic Gandhara site (for ancient Buddhist art and artifacts) in the KPK province (formerly NWFP).

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Pakistani models posing as Punjab’s village womenfolk during an international cultural exchange event in 1969.

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Pakistan’s first tennis star and Davis Cup winner, Haroon Rahim (fourth from top left) with American and British Davis Cup players (1970, Karachi). Rahim got into America’s prestigious UCLA and continued representing Pakistan in various international tournaments. However, sometime in 1977 Rahim married an American girl and moved to the US. But within a few years he cut all contact with his family and vanished. His family never heard from him again.

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A 1970 American magazine ad for Palizzie Shoes. The caption reads: No Karachi Cobra in my size?’
Shoes made from real snake skin imported by western countries from Pakistan (especially Sindh) were hugely popular with the Western fashionistas till clothing and shoes made with real animal skins and furs were thankfully banned.

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A 1970 press ad of a perfume named after Lahore’s historic Shalimar Garden.

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From 1970 till about 1985, T-shirts of most famous Western rock and pop groups were almost all made and exported from Pakistan. T-Shirt makers in Pakistan got orders from the management and marketers representing major rock musicians such as Rolling Stone, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Aerosmith, etc, and thousands of these T-Shirts were exported to the US and the UK and ended up being sold outside concert halls and arenas in various Western countries.

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The Pakistan film industry began growing expediently in the 1960s and reached a peak in the 1970s, before pattering out in the 1980s and ultimately collapsing from the 1990s onwards.
However, the industry entered the 1970s with vigour and confidence, wanting to ‘internationalise’ Pakistani films by getting into joint projects with Turkish, Iranian, Greek and film industries of various other countries.
One of the first projects in this regard was the 1971 film, ‘Operation Karachi’ (see poster) – a steamy thriller with a pop soundtrack punctuated by bouncy numbers by famous Pakistani singers Ahmad Rushdi and Runa Laila.
The film was a massive hit, especially on the screens of Karachi and Lahore’s open drive-in cinemas.

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A 1971 photo of a young (Bengali) Pakistan army officer who switched sides and joined the East Pakistan rebels against the Pakistan Army. The Pakistan army was defeated by the Bengali nationalists and the Indian armed forces in December 1971. In 1972, East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

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A 1972 T-Shirt of famous British progressive-rock group, Jethro Tull that was made in Pakistan …

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Prime Minister, Z A. Bhutto, relaxing with his daughters, Sanam (left) and Benazir (back), at their residence in Clifton, Karachi (1973).

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A 1973 PIA brochure promoting tourism to the site of one of the oldest civilizations in the world, the Mohenjodaro (located in the Sindh province of Pakistan). In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the tourist traffic from abroad and from within Pakistan to Mohenjodaro grew rapidly, so much so that the government built an airport, rest houses and small hotels near the site and began running regular flights there. However, ever since the 1990s, the number of tourists to the site steadily declined and so did the number of flights.

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1973 shot of a mass of film enthusiasts gathered outside the famous Nishat Cinema in Karachi to watch ‘7 Voyages of Sindbad’. Just behind the main hoarding is a smaller board advertising the ‘coming soon’ flick, ‘Game of Death’ staring Martial Arts expert and movie star, Bruce Lee.
Just like they did around the world, Bruce Lee films also became hugely popular with Pakistani audiences. They played to packed houses, especially at Nishat, a movie theatre that was inaugurated by the sister of Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, but burned down by a mob of religious fanatics in September 2012.

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A Pakistani family waiting for transport after attending a function at Karachi’s Beach Luxury Hotel in 1973.

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Urdu newspaper photo of the wife of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Nusrat Bhutto (third from right) with a group of Pakistani ‘supermodels’  at a launch party of a film in 1973.

American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, escorting Pakistan’s First Lady, Nusrat Bhutto, to a banquet at the White House. Begum Nusrat was accompanying her husband, Z A. Bhutto, on his visit to the United States.

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A 1974 menu card of PIA’s international flights.

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A 1974 photo showing a young boy in stylish ‘bell bottoms’ filling the tank of a Vespa motorbike as a young school girl walks home in Lahore.

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A 1974 anti-Ahmadi wall-chalking in the Pakistani city of Sargodah. Religious parties went on a rampage against Ahmadis and their property, demanding that the community be declared as non-Muslim. Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, though heading a supposedly ‘socialist’ and ‘progressive’ government, capitulated and agreed to the demand of the religious parties. Ahmadis were declared non-Muslim and a minority group. The community has continued to face violence and harassment from conservative and radical religious outfits.

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Ibn-e-Safi was Pakistan’s most prolific and popular suspense novelists. He wrote over 200 such novels and amazingly, almost each one became a best-seller. Since his novels were immensely popular among the youth and full of action, exotic locations and characters, it was only natural that a Pakistani film-maker would turn at least one of them into a film.
Director Qamar Zaidi combined stories from various Safi novels and came up with the 1974 film, ‘Dhamaka.’ (See poster).
Though a relative success at the box-office, the film was a bizarre mix of action sequences ripped off from steamy American ‘blacxploitation’ farces, raunchy hippie imagery and proto-disco tunes.
Apart from starring the Pakistani film industry’s well-known names, Shabnam and Rehman, the film also saw debuts by Javed Sheikh (who would go on to become a famous TV and film actor and director) and singer, Alamgir.
In 1977, PTV also shot a series based on Safi novels (starring TV and film actor, Qavi), but after the Bhutto regime was toppled in July 1977, the military government of Ziaul Haq disallowed the running of the series because it thought it was ‘vulgar.’
In 1980, Safi, after suffering a nervous breakdown (he had also suffered a breakdown in 1960), depression and family problems, died at the age of 52. But his books continued to be reprinted and sell big.

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A group of hippie travellers enjoying Pakistani beer at a rest house in North Pakistan (1974).

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Western tourists pose with a group of locals outside a rest house in Ziarat in Balochistan (1974).

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A group of Western tourists push a broken-down truck on Lahore’s Grand Trunk Road (1974).

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Folk music and art and fashion aesthetics of Pakistan’s various ethnicities were aggressively promoted by the government in the 1970s. Eventually some designers fused these aesthetics with the flamboyant, modern fashion sense of the era and created a fashion called ‘Folkwear.’ The above picture shows the cover of a 1975 brochure promoting Pakistani designed and produced ‘Folkwear’ for women.

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Western tourists entering Pakistan from Afghanistan on a bus in 1975.

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A young woman plays with school children at a Mela at Karachi’s recreational outlet ‘Playland’ in 1975. Playland was torn down in the late 1990s.

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A western tourist dressed like a local poses with a group of Pushtun children (and a man) outside a shop in the Bara area of KPK province (1975).

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A video grab from PTV’s live transmission of a wrestling match between top Pakistani wrestler, Akram Bholu, and Japanese wrestler, Anokhi in 1975. The match that took place in Pakistan was watched by thousands of people in the ground and by millions on TV. It was also telecasted live in Japan


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A rare photo of future MQM chief, Altaf Hussain (fifth from left), with friends outside the Arts Department of the University of Karachi in 1977.

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A group photo of Pakistani and Iranian mountaineers outside a hotel in Islamabad in 1978. The group would go on to successfully climb the K2 Mountain.

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Imran Khan signing an autograph for a young fan in Lahore just before the start of the Pakistan-India series of 1978.

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Imran Khan relaxing during Pakistan cricket team’s tour of India in 1979.

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A 1979 L.A. Times cartoon published after the Zia dictatorship executed former Prime Minister, Z A. Bhutto. Zia is shown doing a ballet of sorts over Bhutto’s disembodied head.

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A 1980 photograph of various Afghan Islamist groups in Peshawar that began gathering in Pakistan after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.


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

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