Dark smokes once again fly over Karachi, as a residential area by the name of Abbas town is shredded into pieces. With more than 45 killed and over 140 injured. The city of lights, as we so called it, is now more or less of a battlefield, where each day over 20 people lose their lives in target killing. Is this, what Pakistan had always been or is this, what Pakistan will continue to be?
Well the time line between 1960’s-70 brings about a different picture of Pakistan. A picture, that has been hidden from our generation due to the noise of all the bombs, killing and screams.
Trouser and the bell bottoms were every young man’s look back in the 60’s. Shirts with ridiculously big collars and long hair combo to go along with it added more spice to the fashion scene. Yes people, this was the look all the adult guys preferred back in the days. Herald was a local magazine ran by the DAWN group, as the magazine of the youth, covering the changing fashion, political and social trends of the urban Pakistani youth. It was later after the 80’s that this magazine established its roots as a Political platform.
Disco, pubs and casino had plenty of attraction for the foreign tourist visiting Karachi. 3 aces was the name of the club running from Metropole Hotel. It had the best dance floor, casino and bar. Other discotheque included Big daddy in Saddar Karachi, Playboy on Club Road and Hotel Columbus and Imperial Hotel. Similarly Lahore had Flettes Hotel, with the best dance floor in the town. Yes liquor was available, but unlike today, heroine and other drugs of were off the streets. Masses weren’t exposed to such drugs up until the Afghan War.
Cinemas too had experienced their peak back in the days. It was in the 70’s that Bruce lee’s movie Enter Dragon did some boisterous business here in Pakistan, as he became a symbol of Martial arts both in the west and the east. The British movie Bhowani Junction was also shot in Lahore, maybe because back in the day’s foreigners didn’t have the threat of being cursed to hell by the Mullahs. Even the Pakistani cinema itself flourished its way, coming up with blockbusters like; Zinda Lash and Armaan. The chocolate hero, Waheed Murad was the heart conquerer of thousands of ladies from Port Qasim till khyber.
It’s remarkable to come across the fact the Clifton beach back then was flooded with foreign tourist, bathing in the sun and treating their eyes with beautiful sunset across the horizon.Crabbing was another activity that attracted masses and local boatmen eventually attached barbecue kitchens and bars to the boats, facilitating the foreigners. Today all those boat exist, but maybe we don’t have that kind off tourism anymore.
Talking about Fashion, people hardly know about the First Pakistani super model back in the days. Rakshanda Khattak appeared in the Pakistani fashion scene in the 70’s, but later due to overgrowing power of religious extremist, she was forced to leave the
country and permanently shifted to Canada. Rakshanda had appeared in both local and international Fashion magazines and proud as I can be of her, she was the lead actress in the movie Jane Bond 008 Operation Karachi (1971), shot by an Iranian Director and was released in both Persian and Urdu. But after the Afghan war and Zia regime, the fashion industry and Cinemas were lost and remained as mythical stories till recent times.
It will be quite shameful, if I forget to mention about the pop culture that flourished in the days. Alamgir appeared as the first pop musician of Pakistan and his song Albela Rahi brought a new wave of music. He hosted concerts all over the country, and young girls and boys danced to every beat. Security or suicide bombing wasn’t a threat unlike today which has completely extinct the concert culture in our country. Following her footsteps Nazia Hassan and Zohaib Hassan appeared and became the second most acclaimed icons in the music scene, until Zia regime took strict measures in banning the distribution of music.
Last but not the least, Pakistan was also the part of the world famous Hippie Trial. What the Hippie trail? The hippie trail was the journey taken by hippies and others in the 1960s and 1970s from Europe overland to and from southern Asia, mainly to India and Nepal. Pakistan was a
key route in the hippie trail, as westerners entered via Khyber pass and marched to Peshawar, where the smoked Chars and Hashish. Small hotels blossomed all over Peshawar, as there numbers weren’t sufficient enough to accommodate the flood of tourist coming our way. Back in the days, Hashish and chars were legal and you could smoke it sitting on a street. Being kidnapped or slashed was the last thing on the mind of French and British Hippies flooding Peshawar.
Yes people, Yeh bhi Pakistan tha. Some of you might condemn this era, but let’s face the bitter reality, times today are far worse; Prostitution, gambling, drug abuse has multiplied ten folds, even though they are banned. Tourism has dropped dramatically and even we Pakistanis aren’t safe in our homes. Whether you might agree or not, but those were happy and prosperous times and who knows Pakistan would have developed as an other Dubai or Abu Dhabi, unlike the crumbled nation we are today with a debt of $130 billion on our heads.