Pakistan in 1967

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mikhurram
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Pakistan in 1967

Post by mikhurram » September 28th, 2013, 8:34 am

Pakistan ideally seemed poised at this stage for an economic take-off complimented by an efficient Civil Service trained by the British. PIA was the best airline in the world. People were living in harmony. There was sizeable portion of Parsis/Anglo Indians who gave a lot to this country but left during the 80's. Even the text of this cover story which appeared in January 1967 issue if full of optimism about Pakistan future.

Sadly everything started to go wrong from this moment. We lost East Pakistan and subsequent Bhutto Nationalization Policy which devastated the economy. Zia's era marked the end of tolerance in our society and utter disregard for constitution and now the law & order upheaval.

I guess the past has another pattern....

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Badshahi Mosque Lahore

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Merewether Tower at the junction of Bunder & Mclead Road Karachi.

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Islamabad being built

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Students at Aitchison College and Shalimar Gardens Lahore

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President Ayub at the National Horse & Cattle Show Lahore where he is decorating a widow of a soldier killed in 1965 war.

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SWAT

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Karachi elite at Gymkhana Iftar

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East Pakistan

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East Pakistan

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Chittagong

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Dhaka

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Chapli Kabab and Polo match at Gilgit

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Armed men from tribes keeping a watch for bandits as trucks rumble along Khyber Pass and Qissa Khawani Bazar Peshawar

M Farooq
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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by M Farooq » September 28th, 2013, 9:17 am

Very nostalgic pictures. Just curious, where did you find these old pictures?
Hope you won't post the pictures of Pakistan in 2013 :-(

mikhurram
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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by mikhurram » September 28th, 2013, 9:36 am

from my archive of National Geographic magazines.

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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by newton » September 30th, 2013, 4:57 pm

Thank you for sharing these photographs with us I totally understand where you are coming from in respect of how good things were back then, however despite the fact the reality might have been somewhat different it is still very good to share for the following important reasons.

Nostalgia is good for you. It has been found to make us feel happier, calm us when in distress and even boost our self-esteem. This is because nostalgic memories often involve important events or times in which we played a big part, along with other people close to us. Actually on some level, people are aware the reality was not perfect if they really think about it. However, it’s natural and healthy to focus on the positives in life, to protect ourselves from negativity and threat. So the rose-tinted glasses may enable us to derive psychological benefits from nostalgia that grim realism would not allow.”

The reason? Well, nobody gets nostalgic for bad times or unhappy events. Even if we know that they were not so fantastic in reality, when we reminisce we don our rose-tinted specs and disregard anything negative. This selective memory serves as a kind of self-protecting mechanism. In this way, nostalgia reminds us we are significant individuals with positive qualities and close social bonds, It affirms aspects of the self that we value highly, in turn boosting self-esteem and protecting our sense of self-regard from external threats.”

It’s not all just about the past either. Reminiscing is believed to help inspire our creativity and boost our optimism about the future. Nostalgia provides a link between past, present and future. “It helps us feel that our past and present selves are coherent. So indirectly, thinking about the past can spur us on to look ahead to the future.

Another area of interest is the effects of shared/social nostalgia (for example, reminiscing with others who shared the same experience). This kind of nostalgia is shown to increase intimacy and togetherness among people, with the shared memories acting as a bond and reminding people they belong to a bigger social context. It’s also possible that people who are prone to ruminating about the negative aspects of the past might not enjoy solitary nostalgia but might be able to derive psychological well-being from shared nostalgia. It seems that most of us instinctively turn to nostalgia when we are feeling vulnerable, lonely or lack a sense of meaning in life. The older we get, the more significant these issues become. I certainly never look back and reminisce on my own.

These needs are challenged by experiences like bereavement, reduced mobility and loneliness. Nostalgia is a way to symbolically connect with other people and meaningful experiences, and, therefore, may be particularly important in older age as a resource to boost personal and social well-being. I know it has certainly helped me several times in recent years of my life. So thank you once again for sharing those wonderful pictures.

Regards
Ifzal

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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by KBW » September 30th, 2013, 7:45 pm

What a country it would have been and what we have made out of it. We need to sit down and analyze that if we were all set for a glorious future in 60s than what went wrong and why are we in such a miserable state of affairs now?

Khurram sb, thanks a lot for opening these wonderful threads. I fully grasp that you have not undertaken this trouble just to show us a few old pics. The massage is much bigger than that and a food for thought for all of us. Grateful. :)
Regds

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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by rafique » September 30th, 2013, 8:06 pm

Thank you for sharing such precious pictures. Revival of golden era.
Rafique

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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by ka_khan » September 30th, 2013, 8:39 pm

Thanks for sharing a piece of History with us.

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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by mikhurram » September 30th, 2013, 10:53 pm

Ifzal sahib, KBW sahib, Rafique and Ka Khan thank you for the feedback. Back in the 60's we were a much tolerant society and it certainly makes you nostalgic and i hope that peace and normalcy again prevails. Despite the economic meltdown, rampant corruption, power crisis and the worsening law & order, i am still optimistic about our country's future as after all "Tomorrow is another day."

mikhurram
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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by mikhurram » October 2nd, 2013, 10:24 pm

The late Omar Kureishi is more famously known as Radio commentator of Cricket matches but there was much more to his personality; a wonderful raconteur, writer, journalist and PR manager of PIA during the 1950's till the latter part of 70's.

A school friend of Zulfi Bhutto he and Bhutto coincidently studied together at UCLA where Omar along with Bobby Faruki as members of the University Debating team racked up trophies from East to West Coast in U.S.A and remained invincible during their tenure.

Upon Graduating, Omar returned to Pakistan in the early 50's and tried his luck as journalist while occasionally teaming up with Jamshed Market as Radio Commentators of cricket matches.

Later as PR Manger of PIA in the late 50's he was instrumental in coining the official logo of PIA, "Great People to Fly With" and lifted PIA to news heights under the dynamic leadership of Nur Khan and later Asghar Khan.
Though he is no longer with us but his wit and gab for story telling remains alive in the form of his articles which used to publish in Dawn weekly almost 10 years back. Here's are some vignettes of Omar Kureishi which give us an indication of those times and era.


Some Vignettes by late Omar Kureishi


Jackie comes a calling
“FAIRY tales can come true if you’re young at heart” sang Frank Sinatra. It could have been the anthem of John F. Kennedy’s Camelot. I have often wondered if there had been no Kennedy, would it have been necessary to invent him? Was there some hidden fantasy in the American psyche that hankered for a chivalrous, regal, shining make-believe age? A handsome, younger-than-springtime President described by Robert Frost, the uncrowned poet laureate, as “a young emperor,” while hailing the New Frontier as “an Augustan age of poetry and power.”

And there was a beguiling, lovely, non-royal princess, the First Lady, who waved a magic wand and turned the White House into a Disneyland. Pablo Cassals and Igor Stravinsky came to white-tie dinners. A cultural alchemy transmuted a hamburger and made it a steak tartare. Jacqueline Kennedy became America’s sweetheart, not in a Betty Gable-Rita Hayworth pin-up sort of way, but like a Helen of Troy, “a face that launched a thousand ships.” She was the princess of hearts.

Malcom Muggeridge wrote in the New Statesman: “The personality cult is going strong, and likely to get stronger yet. It is very like popular monarchy. There is the same mixture as with our royal family of contemptuous ridicule and imbecile adulation.” But in American hearts, the Kennedys were beloved for being outside the struggle.

And the struggle went on. There was the ignominy of the Bay of Pigs, a monumental cock-up by the CIA, there was the Cuban Missile Crisis as the USA and the USSR played Russian roulette, there was the killing of Patrice Lumumba, of Rafael Trujillo of the Dominic Republic, of Ngo Dinh Diem of Vietnam, of Vietnam itself, pacification of villages, the zapping of ‘Charlie’ (Viet Cong) with Napalm, Death Squads, advisers, Green Berets and the obscenity (and horror) of the self-immolation of Buddhist monks. There was the ugliness of wire-taps on the telephones of Martin Luther King, the savagery of white supremacists falling on civil rights’ activists and there was J. Edgar Hoover casting a long shadow over Camelot.

Pakistan had a visitor, the Vice-President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, the antithesis of John F. Kennedy, a Texan, more folksy yet a hardened politician. On his way from Karachi airport, he spotted a camel cart and stopped his motorcade and got out to shake hands with Bashir, the driver of the camel cart. He did more than that. He invited Bashir to the United States. It must have startled Bashir, but in a flash — a moment of magical destiny — Bashir the camel driver’s life changed forever. When PIA had invited ‘Dooso’ Karaka, the famous Indian writer and the editor of Current, a weekly news magazine, to visit Pakistan, the only person he wanted to meet was Bashir, and I sent out my scouts to locate him and he was found. He arrived at our office, wearing a smart, white, shark-skin sherwani and his manner was very much that of a man on whom fate had sprinkled some stardust.

Ayub Khan had already gone to Washington and soon after, it was announced that ‘Jackie’ Kennedy accompanied by her sister, Lee Radziwell, would visit India and Pakistan. I was in New York and PlA’s public-relations consultant, Pat Arton, told me that he had arranged for me to meet one of the journalists who would be coming with the First Lady. And I went to meet Barbara Walters, then young and pretty, and not then the celebrity she would become. She wanted to know about Pakistan. “Yes,” I told her, she would be able to see a snake-charmer, but he performed outside the Metropole Hotel for tourists. “Yes,” I said, that the hotels had modern plumbing. She then showed me an advisory she had received from the State Department. I nearly fell off my chair laughing. She was advised to get ready to stay in tents, to take her own rolls of toilet paper, but the piece de resistance was: There will be a man called dhoti who will come to your room and will want to wash your clothes. Don’t give them to him as he will run away with them.” I asked her whether I could get a copy of it and she made me one. I thought that this advisory needed a bigger audience and I mailed it with a covering note to ‘Dooso’ Karaka, who had just the right sense of humour to get a kick out of it. He splashed it in Current.

To seem evenhanded, Mrs Kennedy would travel to New Delhi by Air India, and on her way back, she would travel PIA up to London, where she was spending a few days.

Mrs Kennedy was a media-event on her own. An army of reporters, all of them tough and battle-ready and competitive, trailed her and they reported her every mood and movement and change of clothes. They met me as a delegation when they were told that they would be travelling Economy as the First-class cabin was reserved for Mrs Kennedy and her sister. They had confirmed First-class tickets, and that was the style in which they intended to travel. In that case, I told them, that they would have to take another flight. “No deal” they said in an angry chorus. We finally argued that the leg-room in Economy would be increased and they would get First-class service, including free booze.

A day before the flight, the US Security boys arrived in PIA to go through the passenger list. When they came to my name, they wanted to know why I was travelling. I told them. They said: “This is a private visit and we don’t want any publicity.”

“But we do, I informed them in a no-nonsense voice. There was a brief discussion that was brought to an end when I told them to go to hell. I had had enough from the pack of reporters and now these bully boys were swinging the lead.

Ayub Khan came to see Mrs Kennedy off, but we had boarded the aircraft well in advance. Seated just behind the bulk-head, in three rows, were the ‘heavies of Mrs Kennedy’s security, looking fierce and menacing, in dark suits, each of them ‘packing a rod’ in a memorable phrase of Damon Runyun. Our first stop was Teheran and then non-stop to London. Abdulla Baig was the captain of the Boeing 707. He made his announcements from the cockpit in a solemn voice, like an auctioneer at Sotheby’s. In those days, PIA gave gifts to First-class passengers, in this case, Japanese cigarette lighters (value 25 cents). The cabin staff distributed them and the chief of security asked her if he could have a few more. She pointed to me. He came over to me and asked me. I told the girl to give him as many as she could spare. Delighted by these souvenirs, he said to me: “Do you wanna meet Jackie?” Of course I did. A few minutes later, he came back and asked me to follow him.

Some of the seats in the First-class cabin had been turned into bunks and Mrs Kennedy and her sister were sitting on the bunks. Mrs Kennedy motioned me to sit by her side. She was radiant rather than vivacious, not a stunner, as some film stars that I had met had been, but as a package put together, she was one helluva beautiful woman. What surprised me was that she was spontaneously friendly and so easy to converse with. She spoke in a hushed, breathless sort of voice, a little like Marilyn Monroe. She said: “I think your President is marvellous.” And I said: “We think your President is marvellous.” I asked her how she was enjoying the flight and she said: “I wish it could go on forever. This was my cue. “Mrs Kennedy, can we use that as quote?” She laughed and said: “Go ahead and you can make up anything else. “She was a wonderful, warm and charming person. After I had got back to my seat, my friend, the security chief, brought me a photograph of her, personally autographed to me. “Jackie sent you this,” he said.

Many years later, Pierre Cardin invited Air Marshal Asghar Khan and me to dinner at his house in Paris. I was seated next to Madame Alphand. Her husband had been France’s ambassador to the United States, and Time magazine had reported that Mrs Kennedy had lured away Madame Alphand’s cook. I asked Madame Alphand about this. She talked about the Kennedys and Camelot with great affection. “Madame Kennedy had class,” she said. What about Johnson? “Oh,” she said snobbishly and dismissively, “He likes fried chicken and steaks.” I asked Madame Alphand whether Mrs Kennedy would have charmed De Gaulle? Mais oui,” she smiled.

When Jacqueline Kennedy/Onassis died, I was saddened and said a silent prayer for her, in memory of a few minutes I had spent with her.


PIA enters the jet age
The coercive apparatus of the government was available to keep the press obedient. One of the most effective ways of doing so was to withdraw patronage. The government itself was the country's heaviest advertiser and 'naughty' newspapers found their revenues drying up. This was a way of applying sanctions.

PIA escaped this pressure. But our time came. Ayub Khan had gone to East Pakistan and had been greeted with some sharp editorial comments, not exactly calls to storm the Bastille, but criticism that bruised the vanity of the regime rather than menaced its power. Unfortunately, PIA advertisements appeared on the same day in three newspapers, The Pakistan Observer, Sangbad and Ittefaq - all leading dailies but the ones tilting at windmills.

I can well imagine the scene. Ayub's think-tank led by the Governor of East Pakistan (Abdul Monem Khan?) demanding (in their practised, toady way) that action be taken against PIA for 'trading with the enemy'. Sure enough, I received instructions that henceforth and till further notice, PIA would not release advertisements to these three newspapers.

I was alarmed. PIA was a commercial organization. It played no political role. The press had been supportive of PIA in East Pakistan. Why should we take on board government directives? PIA worked with professional advertising agencies and we did not want to go against their media recommendations. But there was an even greater danger, the danger of the camel getting one foot in the tent. I went to Nur Khan. He agreed with me and told me to give him a paper on why PIA should not be made an instrument in the muzzling of the press. I wrote a strong note and inter alia pointed out that the newspapers were not likely to fold up if PIA withdrew its advertisements, but PIA would make permanent enemies. Nur Khan took the note to Ayub Khan with whom he had an excellent equation. To Ayub's credit, he lifted the ban and the Ministry of Information got off our back.

PIA had entered the jet-age. It did so by leasing a Boeing 707 from Pan-Am. It was a dry lease which meant that the cockpit and cabin crews were of PIA. On the face of it, it was a risky operation, for if the aircraft had developed technical snags, the pure-jet operation would come to a standstill. But so good was the engineering support, that that single Boeing 707 achieved a punctuality record far better than PIA's other aircraft, and we were now flying to New York.

But PIA had placed an order for a Boeing 720B and we were ready to take delivery. I flew to Seattle and took some journalists with me. It was winter and New York was snow-bound. We couldn't leave for Seattle and remained confined to our hotel. Shamim D. Ahmed was our New York manager, and he invited the journalists to his flat for coffee. The journalists had gotten sullen, somehow blaming me for the bad weather. Shamim was an impeccable host, and asked the journalists what they wanted to drink. One of them, from East Pakistan, representing Dainik Pakistan, if I remember rightly, asked Shamim: "Who's paying?" Somewhat taken aback, Shamim said that it was on the house. "In that case, I'll have champagne," the journalist said. I remembered an old Chinese saying: "Not all women in the household are beautiful." I told the journalist that the choice was between black coffee or coffee with cream, and champagne was not on the bill of fare. "I was only joking," he said, a little sheepishly.

We got to Seattle and the Boeing people made a lot of fuss and treated us royally. Captain Abdullah Baig was already in Seattle and he would be flying the Boeing 720B to Karachi. Abdul, as we called him, was one of a kind. I don't know if airline pilots are graded, but he would be at the top of the class. He was by nature a cheerful man, but happiest in a cockpit and at the controls. Whenever I flew with him; I felt safe and though he may have seemed happy-go-lucky, he was a professional to the core. He fitted the bill of 'Great People To Fly With'. There was some tax problem in New York and to avoid it, there was the option of flying direct from Seattle to London. There was some discussion whether the aircraft had the range to do so, but Captain Baig was willing to give it a try. "What the hell do you mean giving it a try?" I asked him. Abdul had a great sense of drama, and he made the non-stop flight seem like a pioneering step into the unknown. But I was sure that he was having me on, but I feared that he might be having himself on as well. The aircraft, now in PIA colours, was ready and there was a feeling of pride when I saw it. It was our own.

The tax problem remained unresolved and it was decided to fly directly to London. Soon after take off, Abdullah Baig called me to the cockpit and said that he had forgotten to bring the maps and he would have to navigate by the stars. "Which ones?" I asked him. The sky was festooned with them, truly a starry night, tiny lights, distant but no less welcoming as they twinkled, as if, waving to us.

There was more snow at London, and our departure was delayed. Nur Khan arrived in London and would be on the flight which would attempt to make the fastest flight between London and Karachi. It was all somewhat bogus since there was no existing record, but it was a part of the public relations bally-hoo. Nearing Karachi, one could almost sense Abdullah Baig urging the aircraft on, like a jockey giving his mount six-of-the best in the last lengths. The decent was steep. No lazy circling. I thought for a moment that he might put the aircraft in a dive. There was a lot of excitement in the cabin. We touched down at Karachi and had made the trip in six hours and some minutes. We would call it a record-breaking flight.

What was staggering was the reception that the aircraft received. It seemed, as if, the entire PIA work force had turned up in the early hours of the morning. They carried banners and garlands. The reception was not for the passengers, but the aircraft. It was a show of achievement.

A Wonderful Friendship
Perhaps it was good luck or a moment of rare inspiration that Pakistan had been one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China. When I went to China in 1956, this was frequently mentioned to me, as frequently as Pakistan’s membership in SEATO, so that the two cancelled one another.

SEATO was China-specific and only by geographic distortion could Pakistan be shifted to South-east Asia. But then, for decades, Taiwan sat in the Security Council of the United Nations as a veto-empowered permanent member. Everything was possible in the then best of all possible worlds. I had gone to China in advance of Choudary Mohammad Ali’s visit, and I got there but he didn’t. The visit was postponed and postponed again. This, too, was mentioned to me, my hosts expressing their mock-grief at his indisposition, the official reason for his showing up missing. I suppose it is not possible to de-recognize a country or else our friend and benefactor, the United States, might have persuaded us to do so.

It was the Sino-lndian war in 1962 that brought a fresh impetus to our relations with China. The Americans were able to stomach Nehru’s cockiness and his non-alignment, and answered his call for help. Pakistan was left wondering what the hell was going on. We did not fall into the embrace of China, we were still in SEATO, but we freshened up our fraternal ties and vows of eternal friendship. China was off the watch-list of our intelligence sleuths, and one could go to a reception at the embassy or consulate and not have one’s car number-plate noted in an exercise book. Though I am not absolutely sure, as old habits die hard, the Americans could not have been too pleased. There were some border adjustments, and relations between China and Pakistan were placed on a sound footing.

China had not given much thought to international air links. When I was there in 1956, I had been told that it was a low-priority subject and there were no scheduled air services. It was linked by air to Moscow and there was some kind of an air service between Burma and some Chinese border cities. The field, as it was, was wide open. On the southern route, the gateway was Honk Kong, and it was by train that one went to the People’s Republic. That’s the way I had gone to China. Nur Khan turned his attention to China and if there were doubters in the Pakistan government, there were also supporters, including Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Ayub Khan himself. An air link between Pakistan and China was not just a big idea, it was, in a sense, a political hand grenade. PIA would be flying its Boeing 707 and the Americans involved certain obscure regulations that forbid trading with the enemy. Admittedly, a flexible law for big corporations finds a way of circumventing such regulations that are seen as violative of the spirit of free enterprise. But Pakistan could be bullied. There were protracted negotiations. The Boeing 707, after all, was PlA’s property. Since I was not privy to the negotiations, I do not know the details, but in the end some kind of compromise was worked out. I came into the picture only when our advertising agency in New York informed me that we could not mention the People’s Republic of China in our advertising since officially, and in the wisdom of the State Department, it did not exist! We were allowed to mention the cities of Canton and Shanghai that we would be serving. But this is getting ahead of the story.

One evening, as I returned home, having gone to a late show of the cinema, my bleary-eyed cook mumbled to me that Nur Khan had telephoned and wanted me at his residence at 7am, and that I was to carry my typewriter with me. I was not sure that my cook had got it right, and it was an ungodly hour for me to call Nur Khan. It sounded very cloak-and-dagger. I got to Nur Khan’s house. He lived at the Air House in E.l. Lines. He was expecting me. My cook had got it right. It was D-day and we would be announcing our service to China, but we had to have the press release cleared by the foreign office. And we had to go to Mohatta Palace to meet S.K. Dehlavi, the foreign secretary. Nur Khan asked me to start drafting the press release. We needed not to seem triumphant. Yet, it was the biggest story in commercial aviation history. We would make the announcement in muted tones, like a strings quartet rather than the Choral of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the call to the spirit, an ode to joy.

We discussed the press release, some adjectival muscle was removed, and it was decided that the press would be requested to play it down. “But it will be on the front page?” I asked. As a single-column item with no gloating headlines. As Nur Khan and I were leaving, Dehlavi wished us good luck. It sounded almost like a warning, if not that, as a prayer of caution. Hell hath no fury like the US State Department scorned.
Half the battle had been won. But Canton and Shanghai did not have the infrastructure to take a Boeing 707. Runways had to be built, navigation aids provided, terminal buildings improved. The Chinese, on their part, were confident that they were equal to the task. They wanted PIA to just announce the date and they would be ready. We had no doubt that they could do the impossible, but miracles took longer, we reasoned.

PIA had come alive and my own department went into overdrive. The Chinese had informed us that we could take anyone we wanted on the inaugural flight, but no Americans and no one associated with an American publication. I went to New York and Newsweek invited me to meet with them. They would put PIA on the cover if we could arrange for one of their reporters to be on the flight. I told them that my hands were tied. They even suggested that I write the story for them. I said no deal. One famous travel writer, Wayne Parrish, not just the doyen of travel writers but the scourge of airlines, for he wielded a razor-sharp pen, met me and said that he just wanted to touch down in China and take the return flight right back. But I told him that the Chinese would not agree. Our advertising agency was not happy because they had to create advertisements that would not mention China. “So where the hell is the flight going?” they asked in utter frustration.
“Canton and Shanghai,” I told them.

They rightly pointed out that most Americans would not know where these cities were located. “Goddamn it, we fought a war in Korea and most people don’t know where Korea is,” they said. I agreed, “Most Americans don’t even know that Sacramento is the capital of California,” I pointed out.

Gason de Chalus, our PR consultant in London, told me that his telephone hadn’t stopped ringing and he was inundated with requests. The best newspapers in England were asking to be taken on the flight. I told him to handle it the best he could. “It’s time you earned your fee.”

PIA’s marketing people wanted to take their business contacts. Everyone wanted to go to China. There were unholy rows between them and me over how many seats they would get and how many my department. As a rule, on previous inaugural flights, the information ministry recommendations were ignored by us, but this time they wanted to see the list of invitees. Apparently, the journalists had to be cleared by the intelligence bureau. As a rule, we did not invite individual journalists, only the editor or his nominee. We passed the buck to the newspapers.

An industrialist, a tycoon by any definition, telephoned me and wanted to be invited. I told him that he was rich enough to charter a flight. He said it was a matter of status. Rene Burri, the Swiss photographer, one of the world’s best, telephoned me from Zurich and wanted to know if he should start packing his bags. I told him that he could. Rene worked for Magnum, the photo agency of star photographers. He was a celebrity in his own right. The occasion was big enough for a photographer of his caliber. A.J. Kardar was making a documentary film for PIA, and I told him to get his crew ready. Prior to start of the first service, there would be a delivery flight.

I wanted him and Rene Burri to be on it so that they could film the landing of PlA’s history-making Boeing 707 at Shanghai airport and the reception and the ceremonies that had been planned. I, too, would be on the delivery flight. I felt the same excitement that I had felt when I had been taken by my father to the Feroze Shah Kotla Ground in New Delhi to see the MCC play against a Viceroy’s X1. I was some seven years old and it was the start of my love affair with the game of cricket. And I have been faithful to that love affair, after my fashion.

We discussed the press release, some adjectival muscle was removed, and it was decided that the press would be requested to play it down. “But it will be on the front page?” I asked. As a single-column item with no gloating headlines. As Nur Khan and I were leaving, Dehlavi wished us good luck. It sounded almost like a warning, if not that, as a prayer of caution

PIA: The Flight to China
In establishing an air link, the first by a non-communist country and in the teeth of fierce opposition by the United States, to China. PIA had not only made aviation history but political history as well.
The man who rightly gets the credit for establishing PIA as a trail-blazing international carrier is Nur Khan and even his detractors, and he has some because it goes against our grain to honour such remarkable pioneers, acknowledge his role.

More than any one else, it was Nur Khan who made the China air link possible. He was the one who withstood all the pressure that was put on him and it seems pointless to recount the many hurdles that had to be knocked down before PIA finally got the go-ahead from a somewhat nervous government uncertain of how the Americ
Last edited by mikhurram on October 2nd, 2013, 10:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.

mikhurram
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Re: Pakistan in 1967

Post by mikhurram » October 2nd, 2013, 10:39 pm

The late Omar Kureishi more famously as Radio commentator of Cricket matches but there was much more to his personality than cricket. A wonderful raconteur, writer, journalist and PR manager of PIA during the 1950's till the latter part of 70's.

A school friend of Zulfi Bhutto he and Bhutto coincidently studied also together at UCLA where Omar along with Bobby Faruki as the first Asian members of the University Debating team racked up trophies from East to West Coast in U.S.A and remained invincible during their tenure.

Upon Graduating, Omar returned to Pakistan in the early 50's and tried his luck as journalist while occasionally teaming up with Jamshed Market as Radio Commentators of cricket matches.

Later as PR Manger of PIA in the late 50's he was instrumental in coining the official slogan of PIA, "Great People to Fly With" and lifted PIA to news heights under the dynamic leadership of Nur Khan and later Asghar Khan.

Though he is no longer with us but his wit and gift for story telling remains alive in the form of his articles which used to publish weekly in Dawn Review Magazine around 13 years back. Here's are some vignettes of Omar Kureishi which give us an indication of those times and era.


Some Vignettes by late Omar Kureishi


Jackie comes a calling
“FAIRY tales can come true if you’re young at heart” sang Frank Sinatra. It could have been the anthem of John F. Kennedy’s Camelot. I have often wondered if there had been no Kennedy, would it have been necessary to invent him? Was there some hidden fantasy in the American psyche that hankered for a chivalrous, regal, shining make-believe age? A handsome, younger-than-springtime President described by Robert Frost, the uncrowned poet laureate, as “a young emperor,” while hailing the New Frontier as “an Augustan age of poetry and power.”

And there was a beguiling, lovely, non-royal princess, the First Lady, who waved a magic wand and turned the White House into a Disneyland. Pablo Cassals and Igor Stravinsky came to white-tie dinners. A cultural alchemy transmuted a hamburger and made it a steak tartare. Jacqueline Kennedy became America’s sweetheart, not in a Betty Gable-Rita Hayworth pin-up sort of way, but like a Helen of Troy, “a face that launched a thousand ships.” She was the princess of hearts.

Malcom Muggeridge wrote in the New Statesman: “The personality cult is going strong, and likely to get stronger yet. It is very like popular monarchy. There is the same mixture as with our royal family of contemptuous ridicule and imbecile adulation.” But in American hearts, the Kennedys were beloved for being outside the struggle.

And the struggle went on. There was the ignominy of the Bay of Pigs, a monumental cock-up by the CIA, there was the Cuban Missile Crisis as the USA and the USSR played Russian roulette, there was the killing of Patrice Lumumba, of Rafael Trujillo of the Dominic Republic, of Ngo Dinh Diem of Vietnam, of Vietnam itself, pacification of villages, the zapping of ‘Charlie’ (Viet Cong) with Napalm, Death Squads, advisers, Green Berets and the obscenity (and horror) of the self-immolation of Buddhist monks. There was the ugliness of wire-taps on the telephones of Martin Luther King, the savagery of white supremacists falling on civil rights’ activists and there was J. Edgar Hoover casting a long shadow over Camelot.

Pakistan had a visitor, the Vice-President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, the antithesis of John F. Kennedy, a Texan, more folksy yet a hardened politician. On his way from Karachi airport, he spotted a camel cart and stopped his motorcade and got out to shake hands with Bashir, the driver of the camel cart. He did more than that. He invited Bashir to the United States. It must have startled Bashir, but in a flash — a moment of magical destiny — Bashir the camel driver’s life changed forever. When PIA had invited ‘Dooso’ Karaka, the famous Indian writer and the editor of Current, a weekly news magazine, to visit Pakistan, the only person he wanted to meet was Bashir, and I sent out my scouts to locate him and he was found. He arrived at our office, wearing a smart, white, shark-skin sherwani and his manner was very much that of a man on whom fate had sprinkled some stardust.

Ayub Khan had already gone to Washington and soon after, it was announced that ‘Jackie’ Kennedy accompanied by her sister, Lee Radziwell, would visit India and Pakistan. I was in New York and PlA’s public-relations consultant, Pat Arton, told me that he had arranged for me to meet one of the journalists who would be coming with the First Lady. And I went to meet Barbara Walters, then young and pretty, and not then the celebrity she would become. She wanted to know about Pakistan. “Yes,” I told her, she would be able to see a snake-charmer, but he performed outside the Metropole Hotel for tourists. “Yes,” I said, that the hotels had modern plumbing. She then showed me an advisory she had received from the State Department. I nearly fell off my chair laughing. She was advised to get ready to stay in tents, to take her own rolls of toilet paper, but the piece de resistance was: There will be a man called dhoti who will come to your room and will want to wash your clothes. Don’t give them to him as he will run away with them.” I asked her whether I could get a copy of it and she made me one. I thought that this advisory needed a bigger audience and I mailed it with a covering note to ‘Dooso’ Karaka, who had just the right sense of humour to get a kick out of it. He splashed it in Current.

To seem evenhanded, Mrs Kennedy would travel to New Delhi by Air India, and on her way back, she would travel PIA up to London, where she was spending a few days.

Mrs Kennedy was a media-event on her own. An army of reporters, all of them tough and battle-ready and competitive, trailed her and they reported her every mood and movement and change of clothes. They met me as a delegation when they were told that they would be travelling Economy as the First-class cabin was reserved for Mrs Kennedy and her sister. They had confirmed First-class tickets, and that was the style in which they intended to travel. In that case, I told them, that they would have to take another flight. “No deal” they said in an angry chorus. We finally argued that the leg-room in Economy would be increased and they would get First-class service, including free booze.

A day before the flight, the US Security boys arrived in PIA to go through the passenger list. When they came to my name, they wanted to know why I was travelling. I told them. They said: “This is a private visit and we don’t want any publicity.”

“But we do, I informed them in a no-nonsense voice. There was a brief discussion that was brought to an end when I told them to go to hell. I had had enough from the pack of reporters and now these bully boys were swinging the lead.

Ayub Khan came to see Mrs Kennedy off, but we had boarded the aircraft well in advance. Seated just behind the bulk-head, in three rows, were the ‘heavies of Mrs Kennedy’s security, looking fierce and menacing, in dark suits, each of them ‘packing a rod’ in a memorable phrase of Damon Runyun. Our first stop was Teheran and then non-stop to London. Abdulla Baig was the captain of the Boeing 707. He made his announcements from the cockpit in a solemn voice, like an auctioneer at Sotheby’s. In those days, PIA gave gifts to First-class passengers, in this case, Japanese cigarette lighters (value 25 cents). The cabin staff distributed them and the chief of security asked her if he could have a few more. She pointed to me. He came over to me and asked me. I told the girl to give him as many as she could spare. Delighted by these souvenirs, he said to me: “Do you wanna meet Jackie?” Of course I did. A few minutes later, he came back and asked me to follow him.

Some of the seats in the First-class cabin had been turned into bunks and Mrs Kennedy and her sister were sitting on the bunks. Mrs Kennedy motioned me to sit by her side. She was radiant rather than vivacious, not a stunner, as some film stars that I had met had been, but as a package put together, she was one helluva beautiful woman. What surprised me was that she was spontaneously friendly and so easy to converse with. She spoke in a hushed, breathless sort of voice, a little like Marilyn Monroe. She said: “I think your President is marvellous.” And I said: “We think your President is marvellous.” I asked her how she was enjoying the flight and she said: “I wish it could go on forever. This was my cue. “Mrs Kennedy, can we use that as quote?” She laughed and said: “Go ahead and you can make up anything else. “She was a wonderful, warm and charming person. After I had got back to my seat, my friend, the security chief, brought me a photograph of her, personally autographed to me. “Jackie sent you this,” he said.

Many years later, Pierre Cardin invited Air Marshal Asghar Khan and me to dinner at his house in Paris. I was seated next to Madame Alphand. Her husband had been France’s ambassador to the United States, and Time magazine had reported that Mrs Kennedy had lured away Madame Alphand’s cook. I asked Madame Alphand about this. She talked about the Kennedys and Camelot with great affection. “Madame Kennedy had class,” she said. What about Johnson? “Oh,” she said snobbishly and dismissively, “He likes fried chicken and steaks.” I asked Madame Alphand whether Mrs Kennedy would have charmed De Gaulle? Mais oui,” she smiled.

When Jacqueline Kennedy/Onassis died, I was saddened and said a silent prayer for her, in memory of a few minutes I had spent with her.

PIA enters the jet age
The coercive apparatus of the government was available to keep the press obedient. One of the most effective ways of doing so was to withdraw patronage. The government itself was the country's heaviest advertiser and 'naughty' newspapers found their revenues drying up. This was a way of applying sanctions.

PIA escaped this pressure. But our time came. Ayub Khan had gone to East Pakistan and had been greeted with some sharp editorial comments, not exactly calls to storm the Bastille, but criticism that bruised the vanity of the regime rather than menaced its power. Unfortunately, PIA advertisements appeared on the same day in three newspapers, The Pakistan Observer, Sangbad and Ittefaq - all leading dailies but the ones tilting at windmills.

I can well imagine the scene. Ayub's think-tank led by the Governor of East Pakistan (Abdul Monem Khan?) demanding (in their practised, toady way) that action be taken against PIA for 'trading with the enemy'. Sure enough, I received instructions that henceforth and till further notice, PIA would not release advertisements to these three newspapers.

I was alarmed. PIA was a commercial organization. It played no political role. The press had been supportive of PIA in East Pakistan. Why should we take on board government directives? PIA worked with professional advertising agencies and we did not want to go against their media recommendations. But there was an even greater danger, the danger of the camel getting one foot in the tent. I went to Nur Khan. He agreed with me and told me to give him a paper on why PIA should not be made an instrument in the muzzling of the press. I wrote a strong note and inter alia pointed out that the newspapers were not likely to fold up if PIA withdrew its advertisements, but PIA would make permanent enemies. Nur Khan took the note to Ayub Khan with whom he had an excellent equation. To Ayub's credit, he lifted the ban and the Ministry of Information got off our back.

PIA had entered the jet-age. It did so by leasing a Boeing 707 from Pan-Am. It was a dry lease which meant that the cockpit and cabin crews were of PIA. On the face of it, it was a risky operation, for if the aircraft had developed technical snags, the pure-jet operation would come to a standstill. But so good was the engineering support, that that single Boeing 707 achieved a punctuality record far better than PIA's other aircraft, and we were now flying to New York.

But PIA had placed an order for a Boeing 720B and we were ready to take delivery. I flew to Seattle and took some journalists with me. It was winter and New York was snow-bound. We couldn't leave for Seattle and remained confined to our hotel. Shamim D. Ahmed was our New York manager, and he invited the journalists to his flat for coffee. The journalists had gotten sullen, somehow blaming me for the bad weather. Shamim was an impeccable host, and asked the journalists what they wanted to drink. One of them, from East Pakistan, representing Dainik Pakistan, if I remember rightly, asked Shamim: "Who's paying?" Somewhat taken aback, Shamim said that it was on the house. "In that case, I'll have champagne," the journalist said. I remembered an old Chinese saying: "Not all women in the household are beautiful." I told the journalist that the choice was between black coffee or coffee with cream, and champagne was not on the bill of fare. "I was only joking," he said, a little sheepishly.

We got to Seattle and the Boeing people made a lot of fuss and treated us royally. Captain Abdullah Baig was already in Seattle and he would be flying the Boeing 720B to Karachi. Abdul, as we called him, was one of a kind. I don't know if airline pilots are graded, but he would be at the top of the class. He was by nature a cheerful man, but happiest in a cockpit and at the controls. Whenever I flew with him; I felt safe and though he may have seemed happy-go-lucky, he was a professional to the core. He fitted the bill of 'Great People To Fly With'. There was some tax problem in New York and to avoid it, there was the option of flying direct from Seattle to London. There was some discussion whether the aircraft had the range to do so, but Captain Baig was willing to give it a try. "What the hell do you mean giving it a try?" I asked him. Abdul had a great sense of drama, and he made the non-stop flight seem like a pioneering step into the unknown. But I was sure that he was having me on, but I feared that he might be having himself on as well. The aircraft, now in PIA colours, was ready and there was a feeling of pride when I saw it. It was our own.

The tax problem remained unresolved and it was decided to fly directly to London. Soon after take off, Abdullah Baig called me to the cockpit and said that he had forgotten to bring the maps and he would have to navigate by the stars. "Which ones?" I asked him. The sky was festooned with them, truly a starry night, tiny lights, distant but no less welcoming as they twinkled, as if, waving to us.

There was more snow at London, and our departure was delayed. Nur Khan arrived in London and would be on the flight which would attempt to make the fastest flight between London and Karachi. It was all somewhat bogus since there was no existing record, but it was a part of the public relations bally-hoo. Nearing Karachi, one could almost sense Abdullah Baig urging the aircraft on, like a jockey giving his mount six-of-the best in the last lengths. The decent was steep. No lazy circling. I thought for a moment that he might put the aircraft in a dive. There was a lot of excitement in the cabin. We touched down at Karachi and had made the trip in six hours and some minutes. We would call it a record-breaking flight.

What was staggering was the reception that the aircraft received. It seemed, as if, the entire PIA work force had turned up in the early hours of the morning. They carried banners and garlands. The reception was not for the passengers, but the aircraft. It was a show of achievement.

A Wonderful Friendship
Perhaps it was good luck or a moment of rare inspiration that Pakistan had been one of the first countries to recognize the People’s Republic of China. When I went to China in 1956, this was frequently mentioned to me, as frequently as Pakistan’s membership in SEATO, so that the two cancelled one another.

SEATO was China-specific and only by geographic distortion could Pakistan be shifted to South-east Asia. But then, for decades, Taiwan sat in the Security Council of the United Nations as a veto-empowered permanent member. Everything was possible in the then best of all possible worlds. I had gone to China in advance of Choudary Mohammad Ali’s visit, and I got there but he didn’t. The visit was postponed and postponed again. This, too, was mentioned to me, my hosts expressing their mock-grief at his indisposition, the official reason for his showing up missing. I suppose it is not possible to de-recognize a country or else our friend and benefactor, the United States, might have persuaded us to do so.

It was the Sino-lndian war in 1962 that brought a fresh impetus to our relations with China. The Americans were able to stomach Nehru’s cockiness and his non-alignment, and answered his call for help. Pakistan was left wondering what the hell was going on. We did not fall into the embrace of China, we were still in SEATO, but we freshened up our fraternal ties and vows of eternal friendship. China was off the watch-list of our intelligence sleuths, and one could go to a reception at the embassy or consulate and not have one’s car number-plate noted in an exercise book. Though I am not absolutely sure, as old habits die hard, the Americans could not have been too pleased. There were some border adjustments, and relations between China and Pakistan were placed on a sound footing.

China had not given much thought to international air links. When I was there in 1956, I had been told that it was a low-priority subject and there were no scheduled air services. It was linked by air to Moscow and there was some kind of an air service between Burma and some Chinese border cities. The field, as it was, was wide open. On the southern route, the gateway was Honk Kong, and it was by train that one went to the People’s Republic. That’s the way I had gone to China. Nur Khan turned his attention to China and if there were doubters in the Pakistan government, there were also supporters, including Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Ayub Khan himself. An air link between Pakistan and China was not just a big idea, it was, in a sense, a political hand grenade. PIA would be flying its Boeing 707 and the Americans involved certain obscure regulations that forbid trading with the enemy. Admittedly, a flexible law for big corporations finds a way of circumventing such regulations that are seen as violative of the spirit of free enterprise. But Pakistan could be bullied. There were protracted negotiations. The Boeing 707, after all, was PlA’s property. Since I was not privy to the negotiations, I do not know the details, but in the end some kind of compromise was worked out. I came into the picture only when our advertising agency in New York informed me that we could not mention the People’s Republic of China in our advertising since officially, and in the wisdom of the State Department, it did not exist! We were allowed to mention the cities of Canton and Shanghai that we would be serving. But this is getting ahead of the story.

One evening, as I returned home, having gone to a late show of the cinema, my bleary-eyed cook mumbled to me that Nur Khan had telephoned and wanted me at his residence at 7am, and that I was to carry my typewriter with me. I was not sure that my cook had got it right, and it was an ungodly hour for me to call Nur Khan. It sounded very cloak-and-dagger. I got to Nur Khan’s house. He lived at the Air House in E.l. Lines. He was expecting me. My cook had got it right. It was D-day and we would be announcing our service to China, but we had to have the press release cleared by the foreign office. And we had to go to Mohatta Palace to meet S.K. Dehlavi, the foreign secretary. Nur Khan asked me to start drafting the press release. We needed not to seem triumphant. Yet, it was the biggest story in commercial aviation history. We would make the announcement in muted tones, like a strings quartet rather than the Choral of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the call to the spirit, an ode to joy.

We discussed the press release, some adjectival muscle was removed, and it was decided that the press would be requested to play it down. “But it will be on the front page?” I asked. As a single-column item with no gloating headlines. As Nur Khan and I were leaving, Dehlavi wished us good luck. It sounded almost like a warning, if not that, as a prayer of caution. Hell hath no fury like the US State Department scorned.
Half the battle had been won. But Canton and Shanghai did not have the infrastructure to take a Boeing 707. Runways had to be built, navigation aids provided, terminal buildings improved. The Chinese, on their part, were confident that they were equal to the task. They wanted PIA to just announce the date and they would be ready. We had no doubt that they could do the impossible, but miracles took longer, we reasoned.

PIA had come alive and my own department went into overdrive. The Chinese had informed us that we could take anyone we wanted on the inaugural flight, but no Americans and no one associated with an American publication. I went to New York and Newsweek invited me to meet with them. They would put PIA on the cover if we could arrange for one of their reporters to be on the flight. I told them that my hands were tied. They even suggested that I write the story for them. I said no deal. One famous travel writer, Wayne Parrish, not just the doyen of travel writers but the scourge of airlines, for he wielded a razor-sharp pen, met me and said that he just wanted to touch down in China and take the return flight right back. But I told him that the Chinese would not agree. Our advertising agency was not happy because they had to create advertisements that would not mention China. “So where the hell is the flight going?” they asked in utter frustration.
“Canton and Shanghai,” I told them.

They rightly pointed out that most Americans would not know where these cities were located. “Goddamn it, we fought a war in Korea and most people don’t know where Korea is,” they said. I agreed, “Most Americans don’t even know that Sacramento is the capital of California,” I pointed out.

Gason de Chalus, our PR consultant in London, told me that his telephone hadn’t stopped ringing and he was inundated with requests. The best newspapers in England were asking to be taken on the flight. I told him to handle it the best he could. “It’s time you earned your fee.”

PIA’s marketing people wanted to take their business contacts. Everyone wanted to go to China. There were unholy rows between them and me over how many seats they would get and how many my department. As a rule, on previous inaugural flights, the information ministry recommendations were ignored by us, but this time they wanted to see the list of invitees. Apparently, the journalists had to be cleared by the intelligence bureau. As a rule, we did not invite individual journalists, only the editor or his nominee. We passed the buck to the newspapers.

An industrialist, a tycoon by any definition, telephoned me and wanted to be invited. I told him that he was rich enough to charter a flight. He said it was a matter of status. Rene Burri, the Swiss photographer, one of the world’s best, telephoned me from Zurich and wanted to know if he should start packing his bags. I told him that he could. Rene worked for Magnum, the photo agency of star photographers. He was a celebrity in his own right. The occasion was big enough for a photographer of his caliber. A.J. Kardar was making a documentary film for PIA, and I told him to get his crew ready. Prior to start of the first service, there would be a delivery flight.

I wanted him and Rene Burri to be on it so that they could film the landing of PlA’s history-making Boeing 707 at Shanghai airport and the reception and the ceremonies that had been planned. I, too, would be on the delivery flight. I felt the same excitement that I had felt when I had been taken by my father to the Feroze Shah Kotla Ground in New Delhi to see the MCC play against a Viceroy’s X1. I was some seven years old and it was the start of my love affair with the game of cricket. And I have been faithful to that love affair, after my fashion.

We discussed the press release, some adjectival muscle was removed, and it was decided that the press would be requested to play it down. “But it will be on the front page?” I asked. As a single-column item with no gloating headlines. As Nur Khan and I were leaving, Dehlavi wished us good luck. It sounded almost like a warning, if not that, as a prayer of caution

PIA: The Flight to China
In establishing an air link, the first by a non-communist country and in the teeth of fierce opposition by the United States, to China. PIA had not only made aviation history but political history as well.
The man who rightly gets the credit for establishing PIA as a trail-blazing international carrier is Nur Khan and even his detractors, and he has some because it goes against our grain to honour such remarkable pioneers, acknowledge his role.

More than any one else, it was Nur Khan who made the China air link possible. He was the one who withstood all the pressure that was put on him and it seems pointless to recount the many hurdles that had to be knocked down before PIA finally got the go-ahead from a somewhat nervous government uncertain of how the Americans would demonstrate their wrath. But there were technical obstacles as well none more formidable than the absence of an infrastructure in China that was capable of handling operations that involved a commercial airliner like a Boeing 720-B.

Neither Canton nor Shanghai had runways able to take this aircraft, there were no navigation aids. These would have to be provided and would have to meet the exacting safety standards. How the Chinese were able to do so and within a limited time-frame is itself a part of aviation history. Two days before its scheduled services were to start, PIA operated a proving flight, on April 27 1964.

I was on board this flight with Capt. Taimur Beg and the late Capt. Ali Khan at the controls in the cock-pit. When we touched down at Canton, a feather-light landing, I asked the two captains about the runway and they were dumbfounded. As good, if not better than anywhere in the world, is what they had to say.

But clearly Nur Khan was not a one-man band. He provided the leadership to the team that he had assembled but each member of the team was a hard-core professional, people like Enver Jamal, Aijaz Ali, M.M. Salim, the late Jimmy Mirza and S.U. Koreshi and flight crew of pilots who were rated among the best in the business. And they in turn had their own teams, also professionals and equally dedicated.

There was no square peg in a round hole. And that in a nutshell was the key to PIA's phenomenal success. Nur Khan had been brought in by Ayub Khan to set PIA right. He inherited the team and I was probably the only outsider though I was not a "key" player in decision-making. I did sometimes manage to get in my two cents worth. There were personality clashes, rivalries, colliding egos but these were subordinated to the higher purpose of making PIA a great airline and this meant having to work together.

In the airline business there is no other way. But the real strength of PIA came from its employees and not from its management and it was their devotion and commitment that was decisive. A surely, disgruntled work-force would have brought the airline down. And as I look back, I am amazed that there was such a harmonious working environment. One reason may well have been that merit was recognised and there weren't too many sifarishis around and there was no sense of institutional grievance.

This too had to do with leadership. Let me give a personal example. The perception was that I was close to Nur Khan. I was that but it was because of the nature of my job. But I neither asked nor got any favours. Throughout his first stint with PIA I remained in the same slot in which I had joined and got my annual increment in my salary (a pittance) the same as everyone else. I was not even given a company car, just a conveyance allowance, the same as everyone else. There were certainly no material benefits to be had by being "close" to the boss. Only longrun working hours and telephone calls at my residence at odd hours asking for progress on some assignment I might have been given.

On April 29 1964, PIA's Boeing 720B landed at Shanghai airport. The first to disembark was Nur Khan. The Chinese had laid on a right, royal reception with hundreds of flag-waving children to welcome it. Nur Khan looked a little dazzled but appeared not to be overcome by emotion. But he looked a happy man and had every right to be so. I went up to him and told him that he was expected to make a speech and handed him some notes I had made. "I'm glad to see you're working," he said and then got lost in the crowd.
I felt immense pride in PIA and Pakistan. I think that is what needs to be re-captured. Times may have changed but not the essential character of the people. That is why despite all the gloom we see around us, I remain an optimist. Pakistan is a country that is rich in human resources. If it were not so, we would have gone under a long time ago. Empower the people, trust the people for they can move mountains.
It's a strange irony that Kissinger took a PIA flight to China that set in motion the return to normality in relations between the United States and China. That too was history and Kissinger for one must have been happy that we had withstood the pressure and had gone ahead with establishing an air link with the People's Republic of China, a kind of heresy when it was planned.

The inaugural flight to China
Whether it was intuition or just good fortune, Nur Khan had put together a good team. He must have had his likes and dislikes, he was after all human, but he never let on. He was not a hard taskmaster, in that he did not crack a whip and there was no streak of sadism in him. We would routinely get a dressing-down from him, but he backed his team. There was nothing petty in his management style. He was results-oriented. The perception was that I was close to him and I might well have been, but I enjoyed no advantage from the relationship. I worked long hours, but it was my own choosing. I had been a newspaper man and deadlines were a second nature to me, and as in a newspaper, so it was with PIA. Everyday was a new day. We could not afford the baggage of unfinished business. PIA operated in a Third-World environment, but it was now one of the best airlines in the world if only judged by its punctuality record. When an airline adheres to its schedules as consistently as PIA was doing, it was a sign that all systems were go. We were a happy airlines with a hardworking and committed labour force. The airlines had surmounted every hurdle, political and technical, to bring about the service to China and we were ready.

The proving flight was operated by Captain Taimur Baig and by the late Captain Ali Khan. I did not know it then, but Ali Khan’s son, Zafar, would marry my niece, Yasmin, and would himself become an airline captain. For most of the flight, I sat in the cockpit and as we entered Chinese air space, the aircraft was called up on radio and greeted “Welcome to China.” As the call-up came, even the unflappable cockpit could not conceal their pride. They had become part of aviation history, and I went back to the cabin to inform A.J. Kardar and Rene Burri and others on board that we were now flying over the People’s Republic of China. They sent up a cheer.

Three hours and 20 minutes after we had taken off from Dhaka, we touched down on the spanking new runway of Canton airport. It was the first time that a Boeing 707 had landed on Chinese soil. Did our friends at the Boeing factory in Seattle share our pride? Captain Baig told me that the runway met all the specifications, length, strength, aids including Instrument Landing System (ILS). We were received by civil aviation officials (CAAC) and smiling girls, young pioneers who presented us with bouquets. I was returning to China after eight years and I wondered if it had changed. Was there still that faith that moved mountains? That energy, that drive, that self-belief? l had taken a flight from Canton to Beijing in 1956. I had been a young journalist full of curiosity, with many questions. I was still young but older in hours and had travelled much, but China still thrilled me.

In 1956, the writer, Han Suiyin, had been in Beijing and we had become good friends. She had advised me to see China with Asian eyes. Every country has its own history, but there are some common experiences. India had been colonized by a single power. Not so China, but within the framework of its sovereignty, it had been ravaged by colonial powers who exercised authority without responsibility, the prerogative of a harlot. In 1956, my interpreter and I were walking on a boulevard in Shanghai, he pointed to a building and said, “Before Liberation, Chinese and dogs where not allowed in that building.” I had told him that in British India, there had been clubs where Indians had not been allowed but because the British were animal lovers, dogs were allowed.

After a brief layover, the proving flight proceeded to Shanghai. We were met by CMC officials and by Hurmat Beg who had been appointed general manager for China.

Hurmat or Saabji as we called him, had become a close friend of mine. He was one of the most lovable people I had encountered. He made no secret of the fact that he was a man of humble origin and had worked his way up from the ranks. It turned out well for him, for he was senior management and one of PlA’s brightest stars. He was an avid bridge player and that is how he got close to Yunus Saeed and Farooq Mazhar. Our bridge sessions were hilarious and Hurmat kept up a running commentary on the stupidity of his partner, whoever it was. He was a good man. Every other quality was a plus or minus.

The inaugural flight was due on April 29, and I spent the time with CMC officials working out the airport ceremonies and getting A.J. Kardar and his film crew settled. The Chinese authorities informed me that there would be no restrictions on them nor on Rene Burri. They could work as they pleased and if they needed assistance, it would be provided. Rene liked to wander the streets and capture on camera unguarded moments of people at work or children at play. I used to call him a human-interest photographer. All the pictures he took had people in them and he captured more than images. He captured moods.

The inaugural flight was due to arrive late in the afternoon. I gathered that there would be some speeches and on general principle, I drafted a speech for Nur Khan. We got to the airport marry hours ahead of the arrival of the flight. Already, it was apparent that the aircraft would gets tumultuous welcome. Hundreds of children were already at the airport, holding small flags and pompoms and Chrysanthemum bouquets and slogans were being rehearsed. The friendship was spontaneous, but its expression was being drilled. It was one more example of the Chinese genius for discipline. We were told that the aircraft was on time and soon we caught sight of a Boeing 707, first circling overhead and then getting into position to land, its wheels down, the final roar of its engines and it touched down, a smooth-as-silk landing. On cue, there was prolonged applause, as if, one was in a cricket stadium and someone had reached a hundred. It was an extraordinary sight. Children waved their small flags and pompoms and as the aircraft doors opened, the band started to play the Pakistan national anthem. Nur Khan emerged and I passed on the speech I had written for him. He looked not just overcome, but overwhelmed. Not even in his wildest dreams could he have imagined such a welcome. He was being received like a conquering hero. China’s isolation had ended and it had opened its doors.

Now that the air link had become a reality, it was easy to forget how hard it had been. The original proposal was to start a PIA service as a regional air link connecting Dhaka with Kunming. Nur Khan had gone to China to discus this. He suggested a major air service to Shanghai. The CAAC had been surprised by the boldness of the proposal. They said that the only person who could take a decision on this was Zhou En-Lai, the Chinese Prime Minister. Nur Khan met him and he was a man of vision, he saw the big picture and he had agreed.

Nur Khan had to persuade the Pakistan government, the then foreign minister and the finance minister, but it was Ayub Khan who had given the go-ahead. Nur Khan had a special equation with him and there was mutual respect and affection.

For the inaugural flight, PIA had brought a large number of guests, there were Pakistani editors and distinguished aviation writers from the UK, France and Italy, including Arthur Narracourt of The Times, Mary Goldring of The Economist, Ian Coulter of The Sunday Times, Andrew Wilson of The Observer and Aungus Macpherson of The Daily Mail. All of them were heavyweights in their fields. There were travel agents and businessmen, including Gul Adamji.

Some of the guests had brought a huge amount of Pakistani currency and they wanted to change it into Chinese money for the shopping they had planned. It was left to me to tell them that it was contrary to Chinese foreign exchange regulations. The Chinese did not expect their honoured guests to break the law. One businessman complained to me that there seemed to be no halla gulla in Shanghai, and why couldn’t we take them to Hong Kong? But by and large, the inaugural party looked forward to their fortnight in China. The Chinese were impeccable hosts. They showed a lot of patience and a lot of tact. But a programme had been laid out and we kept to it. I was busy all the time, both host and guest.

A Free Spirit
PIA was already flying to New York. It had added Canton and Shanghai to its network. Now it turned its attention to Moscow. It was, as if, the airline was setting its own example of peaceful co-existence. Pakistan’s relations with the Soviet Union had been decidedly on the cool side. Pakistan had thrown its weight behind the Free World, as the anti-Soviet allies chose to call themselves.

Gary Powers had taken off on his U-2 from Peshawar and Khrushchev had penciled in Peshawar as a city doomed to damnation. India, on the other hand, had remained non-aligned with a tilt towards the Soviet Union. But after the Sino-Indian war, India’s nonalignment that had been called “immoral” by John Foster Dulles, acquired a certain respectability. India was the enemy of one of the enemies and was, therefore, a friend of sorts. Pakistan’s growing friendship with the People’s

Republic of China had put a further strain on relations with the Soviet Union. It was against this background that PIA had been able to acquire rights to not only fly to Moscow, but beyond. Other airlines terminated their flights in Moscow. PIA would fly on to Frankfurt and London with full traffic rights. It was another PIA first.

‘Jimmy’ Mirza was PIA’s Commercial Director and he was close to Nur Khan. He was, by nature, a quiet man, low-profile and soft-spoken but very able. He was unflappable, I do not remember him ever raising his voice. He seemed an unlikely man to be heading such an aggressive marketing team. Yet, he was a through professional. I got on with him swimmingly, both respect and affection, and often turned to him for guidance. I valued his advice and his friendship. He was a calming influence. His lovely wife, Iris, was a fine lady and she and ‘Jimmy’ made a good team. After ‘Jimmy’ tragically died in the Cairo crash, Iris came to work with PIA, and I was honored that she had chosen to work in my department. There was the driving leadership of Nur Khan, but behind PIA’s commercial success was the hand of ‘Jimmy’ Mirza. The Moscow service was one example.

Once again, we had another inaugural flight on our hands. It was too soon after China, and I decided to give it a miss. Nur Khan, too, would not be going and Air Commodore Balwant Dass would lead the delegation. If I remember right, he was DGCA then, a wonderful man and a family friend, particularly close to my brother, Sattoo. When I think of people like him, I bemoan how much poorer we all are without them.

About a couple of days before the inaugural flight to Moscow, Nur Khan sent for me. A red light on my intercom would flash, a signal that the boss was calling and one almost leapt to attention, and hurried to his office, turning to his personal assistant, Abid, to inquire if the boss was in a good mood. It was a sort of ritual. Nur Khan never explicitly asked you to sit down. You could remain standing or sit down. It was your choice. He told me that I should go to Moscow. It may have been his own decision or Balwant Dass could have asked for me. He told me that he wasn’t sure, but he might join us in Moscow. Shamim D. Ahmed had been appointed manager and he was already in Moscow. Shamim had been manager in Rome when I had joined PIA and was a good friend of mine. We had gone to Rimini together and had spent many convivial evenings at Jerry’s on Via Veneto in Rome. Shamim was an extrovert and had the gift of making friends. It remained to be seen how he would fare with the more dour Muscovites.

Strangely, I was not thrilled about going to Moscow. I should have been and it would have allowed me to compare it with Beijing, even if superficially. Perhaps, my curiosity had been dulled. Perhaps, if I had been working journalist, I would have been more excited. I was not particularly enamored by Russia’s political system. I did not have too high an opinion of capitalism, but even by the rigid standards of McCarthyism, I was no communist-sympathizer. I liked to think of myself as a free spirit, not a prisoner of any doctrine. There was, I admit, a contradiction in my thinking. I found nothing stifling in the regimentation of the Chinese system, but the Russian model seemed oppressive. It made no sense, but that was the advantage of being a free spirit!

But I was not unaware that Russia had produced great writers such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Gorki, Turgenev, and at one time or another, I had read them; great musicians such as Tchaikovsky, Rachminoff, Shostakovich and I had listened to their music. There were great traditions of ballet, Paviova and Njininsky, of cinema, art, chess-masters, athletes. A society rich in achievement, Moscow would not be a cultural wasteland. If I kept my head down and my mind open, I could enjoy myself.

Because our relations with the USSR were correct and formal, rather than warm and fraternal, negotiations for the Moscow connection were tough. There was, however, no objection, none from those who had been cautious and wary in our government about the China service, none from the US government and none from Beijing! Thus, Pakistan, a card-carrying member of SEATO and CENTO, at the height of the Cold War, had air links to the People’s Republic of China, the USA and now the USSR. PIA’s route-map should have been displayed at the United Nations. PIA also flew to Bombay and New Delhi. Some other Picasso should have painted a PIA aircraft as a peace dove.

The air link to Moscow was not international news and even our own public did not seem particularly enthused. Yet, it was a commercial breakthrough and should have softened political relations. It didn’t. Politics is made of sterner stuff.

The inaugural flight left without any fanfare, a routine departure and no one, except the concerned passengers, took any notice when it was announced over the public address system that PIA’s flight to London via Moscow and Frankfurt was ready for boarding. Unlike the China inaugural, there were no ceremonies at Moscow’s airport, just the lonely figure of Shamim Ahmed. We went through normal channels, passport and customs. There was certainly no red carpet, no flag-waving schoolchildren. Strictly speaking, we were not guests of the USSR government but of PIA, and In-Tourist coaches and guides had been hired by PIA. There were, in a manner of speaking, no smiles at the airport.

We would be staying at the Ukrania Hotel, described locally as a skyscraper but it was no Empire State Building. It was, all the same, a large building in the style of architecture favored by Stalin. He may have had other virtues, but architecture style was not one of them. It was a rather ugly building. The PIA office was also located in this hotel. As far as I could make out, there was only one lift in the hotel. The PIA office was on one of the upper floors, as was my room. And to get from my room to the office amounted to commuting. It could take half-an-hour, if one was lucky. There was also no room service. Big, burly women were posted on each floor as hotel staff, but one couldn’t help feeling that they were “eyes” watching the coming and going of guests. It provided me the opportunity to give full rein to paranoia.

On our first evening in Moscow, the PIA hosted a reception at the Metropole Hotel that was at some distance from our own hotel. An In-Tourist coach was waiting and we were supposed to depart at 6pm. At the appointed hour, there could not have been more than four or five of us in the bus. The others, it seemed, were more cavalier about time-keeping. The young lady who was in charge looked at her watch and promptly told the driver of the coach to get going. I protested to her that a substantial number of guests had not yet arrived, and she once again looked at her watch, like a reprimand, and we moved on. There was no expression of regret. She seemed almost robotic. I asked her if the bus could go back and pick up the stragglers and she shook her head. She understood English, but was in no mood to make any conversation.

Some of the guests did manage to get to the Metropole Hotel and they cursed not themselves for being late but In-Tourist for being on time. I hoped they had learnt a lesson. How different it had been in China! I missed the pampering. I told some of our guests, good-naturedly of course, that they should consider themselves lucky. The next time they could find themselves in Siberia or worse, trapped in the lift of the Ukrania Hotel.

A Message of Reassurance
Asghar Khan’s designation was President (PIAC). The Ministry of Defense had been at pains to point out that it was mandatory to affix PIAC after President, the assumption being, of course, that lest people may confuse him with Ayub Khan who was President of Pakistan. Was it a straw in the wind of a mutual hostility?
Asghar Khan had arrived at the PAF Drigh Road base in a C-130, still in his uniform. PIA’s top brass had been present to receive him and after shaking hands with them had wondered, with some slight sarcasm who was minding the store? Later, a circular would be issued that he did not expect all and sundry to receive him or see him off, a chamcha practice that had been in vogue whenever Ayub Khan traveled from point A to point B and beyond.

Dressed in civvies, he came to PIA the next morning. Whenever there is a management change, there are rumors and everyone seems to prepare his own hit-list. I had been close to Nur Khan. But there was nothing personal in the relationship. It was the nature of my job. I had to function at that level to be effective. I might add here that he had showed me no special favors. Still, my staff was concerned, not so much for me as for themselves.

Within an hour of Asghar Khan being in the office, he sent for me. My staff feared the worst and had gathered in my office. I entered his office and was greeted by a warm, reassuring smile. He asked me to sit down. “Tell me how you work and I’ll tell you how I work and let’s see if we can work together,” he said.
I felt that my response would be crucial to our working relationship, if any. I told him that I was an unorthodox operator and I believed in results. That I didn’t much care for protocol and if I needed to see him, I would walk into his office.

“Good,” he said, “we will get on well.”

Asghar Khan was also the Chief Administrator of Civil Aviation and Tourism. He said he wanted me to handle the public relations for that as well. It had been a brief meeting but it marked the beginning of a working relationship that was at all times close and honest. It was said of him that he was difficult to work with and that he was inclined to be rigid, fixed in his views. Nothing of the sort. He was a bold administrator and open to new ideas and he gave me a free hand. He was never too busy to see me. He was known as a man of unassailable integrity. In all the years I have known him, he never compromised on integrity. He set a high standard.

But Asghar Khan did not have time to settle down. Relations between Pakistan and India were heating up. Normally confined to an exchange of words and rhetoric, something far more serious was in the works, some dangerous miscalculations had been made. Chief of which was that an uprising in Kashmir could be engineered. About Operation Gibraltar, I will write later but on September 6 when I got to the office, I was told that PIA’s overflying rights over India had been cancelled. An American news agency reporter had telephoned me to get PIA’s reaction. As I was talking on the telephone, Air Commodore Piracha, who was our Administration VP, walked into my office, overhead the conversation and informed me: “Eff the overflying rights, we are at war.”

I felt myself getting numb. There was a radio in my office and I put it on. Radio Pakistan was playing martial music and patriotic songs and soon General Musa, the C-in-C would be making an address. He came on the radio and confirmed that a state of war existed and the Indian armed forces had crossed the international border and its armies were heading for Lahore.

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming concern for Pakistan and with it came the realization how much I loved my country. I was not one of those who wore his patriotism on his sleeve. But a sort of affirmation of my patriotism had been provided by my mother. She understood enough English to get by but would not have been able to follow the cricket commentary. Yet, she would listen and when I would return home, she was able to tell me whether Pakistan had done well or poorly. How did she know? She said that she could tell from my voice.

The radio and television commentator Brian Johnson had said much the same. He was asked a question about me and he said that I did my best to be impartial but it was obvious which team I was cheering for. It was meant to be a compliment.

As a journalist, I had sometimes been critical of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Subsequent events had proved that I had been right. I had called it a “toady” policy. At the same time I had been distrustful of the flag-waver and had tended to agree with Aldous Huxley, who had seen patriotism as group-hatred of a common enemy. But now, with Indian armies marching on Lahore, I wanted to do something.

I telephoned Radio Pakistan and told them that I was available to do any broadcasts they wanted. They said that they would come back to me. What was immediately apparent was that the entire country had been galvanized. It was, as if, a switch had been turned on and a dark room had been flooded by light. A blackout had been imposed on Karachi and one did not need air raid wardens to enforce it. The people readily complied. The BBC announced the fall of Lahore and like the announcement of his death, Mark Twain had found the reports to be “slightly exaggerated”. General Choudary had boasted of having a “chota peg” in the Lahore Gymkhana. For the duration of the war, General Choudary would have his “chota peg” in Delhi’s Roshanara Club!

Radio Pakistan came back to me and asked me to do a daily five-minute broadcast. The subject was: Pakistan and the World Press. They counted on me to make the most of it and under its umbrella, I could talk on anything I considered appropriate. These broadcasts were pre-recorded and were on air on the national hook-up at 8.15, each evening. I have done a lot of broadcasting, apart, of course, from cricket commentary. But these broadcasts were the best that I have ever done. They came easily to me. My voice had been associated with cricket and was instantly recognizable. I wanted the same voice to send a message of reassurance. The city was under a blackout and the homes would be darkened and I could sense anxious families huddled together, listening to the radio. I have never felt so close to my listening public, almost, as if I was talking to them individually. I would wind up the broadcast with an almost whispered “Good night and God bless you.”
I would get encouraging phone calls from all manner of people. Brigadier F. R. Khan telephoned me to tell me that Ayub Khan was very pleased with the broadcast, but could I make it longer. I told him that even Churchill was not able to sustain listener interest for longer than five minutes. Air Marshal Nur Khan, now C-in-C of PAF, telephoned me from Peshawar and wanted to know why I was not mentioning the PAF more often. I told him that the PAF was shooting down enemy aircraft so fast that I would have to do the broadcast in short-hand. Zahur Azhar, who was DO Radio Pakistan, sent me a congratulatory message saying that the Indians were jamming my broadcast.

War is a time for great camaraderie. It was about this time that I got to know Rafi Munir. Rafi had had a tiff with his father and had come to work for my brother Sattoo at his factory at the airport. Since I worked at the airport too, he and I started to have lunch together and a friendship developed that lasts to this day. Rafi is one of a kind, a very decent human being who has met both triumph and disaster with the same disdain, his spirit has remained unconquered. Rafi would come to my house every evening. He would be dressed as usual in shalwar-kameez and he wore dark glasses.

I had a Labrador called Maxie, my son Javed’s best friend. Maxie rarely barked in anger and generally ignored visitors. I felt that Maxie was a bit of a snob. But I could always tell when Rafi arrived because Maxie would start growling... “You can’t win ‘em all,” I would tell Rafi.

Another visitor was Waris Ishaq. Waris was an advertising man but he had also been a journalist and much else. He was a man of raffish charm and somehow dedicated to disproving Abraham Lincoln that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Waris would bring us up to date with the latest rumors.

There was a scare when there were reports that hundreds of parachutists had landed in Karachi and they were in disguise. Of course, it was nonsense but in a time of war, fact and fiction get blurred. There was the case of a Brazilian who was staying at Hotel Metropole. Unfortunately, for him, he had red hair and had a beard, a rather smart ‘goatee’. Leaving the hotel, some people saw him as a suspicious character and pounced on him and gave him a bit of a thrashing. He was advised to shave his beard, which he did. The next day when he appeared on the street, he was recognized by the same people. And the fact that he had shaved off his beard confirmed their worst fears and so he was thrashed again. I don’t know if there was any truth in this but it was a story that was doing the rounds. I had heard it from Waris Isheq.

There were, of course, many voices but none more inspiring than that of Nur Jehan, truly Pakistan’s nightingale. She sang to the troops and for the troops, and somehow managed to convey a message to them on behalf of all the people of Pakistan. But there is nothing romantic about war. There are only heroic moments.

Both Pakistan and India had large populations that lived below the poverty-line. War was a luxury that neither country could afford, not just for moral reasons but for hard economic reasons as well. War leaves rich nations poor and poor nations destitute. Any one who has used a credit card knows that the bill comes at the end of the month, the day of reckoning.

Going for an Overkill
“Everyone is ignorant but on different subjects.” I came across this one-liner in the Reader’s Digest. I must clarify that I didn’t read the Reader’s Digest but since I traveled so much, it was impossible to avoid it.
I was ignorant on more than one subject but particularly so in the matter of art as it pertained to paintings. I belonged to the school that frankly admitted that I liked or did not like what I saw on a canvas and did not try to commune with the artist’s soul. I was not altogether a Philistine. I had gone to the Louvre in Paris and seen the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, I knew who Picasso was and even Salvador Dali and an arty-crafty friend of mine had taken to me to an art gallery in London and he had made buy a Turner print. I was more comfortable with books and music.

But I had a lot of friends who were artists. There was Nagi and Ajmal Hussain, and when I went to Dhaka, I would invariably spend some time with Zainul Abedin whose sketches on the Bengal famine in the forties had been considered subversive by the British. The angry artist outraged by the obscenity of starvation on such a massive scale had mellowed. Zain Bhai, as all his friends called him, had become a teacher. Guljee was a good friend as was Sadequain and it was to Sadequain that PIA turned to create a mural for the new office we had acquired on the Champs Elysee in Paris.

Patronizing art was not entirely new to PIA. The artist Jehangir had been commissioned by PIA to do some watercolors and these had been put up in the offices of senior management. Many might have preferred pin-ups but watercolors is what they got. It was Asghar Khan’s idea and he had felt that a PIA office in Paris needed to show off Pakistan’s greatest painter. He had mentioned it to me and I had thought that it was a big idea.

There used to be a weekly Management Board meeting attended by the departmental heads. Asghar Khan believed in getting an input from his management team. A meeting was convened and Sadequain had roughed up a sketch of his mural. This had been passed around. The impression was that the mural had been my idea and before Asghar Khan arrived at the meeting, there were some ‘informal’ remarks about the idea and some comments on the rough sketch itself, all addressed in varying tones of sneering jocularity in my direction.
“Which side is up?” one of them asked me. Another was of the opinion that his 11-year old daughter could do better. “I take it that will come out of your budget,” the finance man observed. I am not a great believer in management by consensus. I don’t think that a non-expert should be asked to render a judgment on someone else’s expertise. I could hardly tell a pilot how to fly a plane or an engineer how to fix a technical fault. But, I suppose, everybody is entitled to an opinion on a mural.

Asghar Khan arrived at the meeting and it became clear that the Sadequain mural was his idea and the whole atmosphere of the meeting changed. The doubters and the mockers and the nay-sayers saw more virtue in the project than it deserved.

“Sadequain is a national treasure,” said the one who wanted to know which side was up and the finance man said that a painting was an investment safer than blue-chip bonds. Had Asghar Khan expressed any misgivings and doubts, it would have been a different story.

The same thing had happened but with a different outcome when we had met to determine the fate of our advertising slogan ‘Great People to Fly With’. A board meeting had been held and Asghar Khan had announced at the start of the meeting that the slogan had outlived its utility but he would go round the table to get the views of others. When it came to my turn, he said he would get to me last. PIA had lived with the slogan for many years but now no one could be found to say a word in its favor. When my turn came, I said with some sarcasm that since PIA’s own management did not believe in the slogan how was the public expected to believe it. I added for good measure that this was the first time anyone had expressed his disapproval.
Sadequain, who was in Paris, was informed that his mural had been approved and he should start work on it.
Asghar Khan called me in one morning and told me that Ayub Khan had mentioned a man called Paul Augier who owned the Negresco Hotel in Nice. He was a high-powered PR man and was a personal friend of the likes of the Shah of Iran and Nikita Khrushchev, two birds of altogether different feathers. The New Yorker had also done a profile of him. PIA might want to consider hiring him to handle our European public relations.

I felt that would be an overkill and we didn’t need someone like him. In any case, Asghar Khan felt that there was no harm in my meeting with him. I flew to Paris and met him. “Why don’t you come to Nice as my guest and we can talk about it,” he said. I did some quick mental calculations. I may be his guest at the Negresco but I would not even able to tip the doorman of such a hotel. I declined the invitation saying that I had to get back to Karachi. I told him that we needed bread and butter public relations but if something grand was being planned, we would get back to him. It was all very amicable and he told me that his invitation stood.
The Pakistan cricket team was due to tour England in the summer of 1967. I was hoping that the BBC would invite me once again to be the guest commentator and hoping too that Asghar Khan would release me. I got in touch with my friend Max Mueller who was the head of BBC’s Outside Broadcast. I wrote to him that since I was going to be in London, we could have lunch. We had made some changes in our PR set-up in London. Salahuddin Siddiqui had been transferred to London and to back him up, we had appointed Nasim Ahmed who was Dawn’s correspondent as a part-time PR consultant.

Max Mueller promptly got back to me, saying he would be delighted to meet me. I went to London and took along Nasim Ahmed with me. Nasim Ahmed had been an old friend and Kardar had introduced him to me. Nasim had just returned from a trip to China and was quite enthusiastic about his visit. It did not take long for Max Mueller to ask me to be the guest commentator and the rest of the lunch was given over to listening to Nasim’s views on China and his meeting with Marsal Chen Yi. He repeatedly informed us what he had said to Chen Yi. After Nasim left Max Mueller observed: “What an interesting man”. I wonder what Chen Yi said to him.”

After I got back, I sent a formal note to Asghar Khan asking for leave to do the cricket commentary. His response was: “Since the team is not likely to do well, your association with the team would be unfortunate. However, I am prepared to discuss.”

He hadn’t turned me down and had left a window open. I went to see him and told him that I had been associated with teams far worse than the one that was going to England. I couldn’t help feeling that he was having me on. It did not take long for him to agree. It would be great getting back to cricket. I had been very busy and had given a couple of home domestic tours a miss. Hanif Mohammad was going to be the captain and there were two young players that I was keen to see perform at that level - Majid Khan and an exciting new wicket-keeper, Wasim Bari.

Whatever I may think of the English as a people, an English summer was like no other summer and central to it was the game of cricket. No matter how well or poorly our team performed, the sun came out or it rained and as the writer Andrew Lang waxed eloquent: “There is no talk that is as good as cricket talk. When memory sharpens... and the old happy days of burned Junes revive.”
I was a lucky man. An entire summer watching and talking cricket and getting paid for it. Who said that life was unfair?

Pierre Cardin Comes to PIA
Respectability exacts a terrible price. It leads to conformity. Yet, as a young man, I had shunned both. I was not a Bohemian and went regularly to the barber and shaved every morning. I was not even a rebel, but I had had a restless streak, a kind of institutional discontent, a compulsive need to rearrange the furniture. I had no idea what I wanted to be. Public relations was neither an art nor a science. It could not be defined precisely, it was like soup made from leftovers. It was the Abominable Snowman, there was the suspicion that it existed. The Hungarian-British writer, George Mikes, better known for his book, How to be an Alien, trying to define what humor was not, in another book, recalls an old story which is about explaining something very difficult to understand.

A blind man asks a young girl to describe milk. The young girl is astonished that someone can be so foolish that he doesn’t know what milk is. “Milk is white,” she tells him. The old man tells her that he is blind and doesn’t know what white means. The young girl tells him that this is very easy to explain and tells him that a swan is white. The old man tells her that a swan may be white, but he has never seen a swan. “It has a curved neck,” she tells him. The blind man says that he has no idea what ‘curved’ is. She lifts her arm, bends her wrists forward like a swan’s neck. “Feel it,” she says, “that’s curved.” The old man feels the girl’s arm, touches the girl’s wrist and exclaims joyfully: “Thank God. Now at last I know what milk is.”

Public relations, I discovered, had to be defined by some same circuitous route with even less comprehension. For a long time that which did not fit into a known or formal classification was handed over to public relations, not, of course, menial or janitorial jobs. My staff was also flattered to learn that they were the only literate persons in the organization. It was being asked to draft letters on every subject for other departments. If a manager in Rome wanted to present a pair of Pakistani jootis to the wife of a travel agent, someone from my department had to go and shop for it. I put a stop to all this in good time. I had worked closely with Nur Khan, but was not quite in the ‘loop’.

Asghar Khan saw a bigger role for me. He started to consult me on policy matters, get an input from me. Policy impacts on the public, and he felt that I should be involved from the onset. This created the perception that I had ‘influence’ with him. But I was well aware of the boundaries. Many sought me out with their grievances, passed over for promotion or wanting a foreign posting. I turned them down, saying that I had not been issued an open, general license to interfere in the bureaucracy of other departments, and that I had not been appointed as an Ombudsman.

One morning, Asghar Khan sent for me and told me that he was thinking about changing the air hostess’ uniform. “Perhaps, we should get a French designer to do it,” he said. Those were fairly ‘liberal’ times, the pre-Ziaul Haq days, and public morality had not been put in a straitjacket in the name of religion or orthodoxy. I thought it would be a good idea. At the same time, he suggested that we could hold a competition and invite Pakistani designers to send their ideas.

Erwin-Vasey had replaced Hobson, Bates, and we got in touch with them to sound out some well-known names in fashion designing. They came up with the name of Pierre Cardin. He was nowhere as famous as he would become. Erwin-Vasey informed us that he was receptive. I went to Paris to meet him.

I hadn’t been to Paris for some time. The first time I had, it was soon after I had returned from the United States and was passing the days, as it were, in Hastings in Sussex trying to sort out what I wanted to do with my life. I had been bewitched by Paris. But I had not been worldly-traveled and had only London or New York or San Francisco to compare with it. Los Angeles, where I had spent so many years, did not come into reckoning. LA had much to commend it, but lacked a pedigree. The only town that came close to Paris in grandeur and cultural conceit was Rome, though the French were more arrogant.

A Frenchman had once asked that since I was not an Englishman, why did I speak English? I pointed out to him that he had asked me that rather foolish question in English! Then, on my first visit, I had taken the ferry from Folkeston to Calais and a train to Paris. Now, I had arrived by a jet airliner. Would Paris, too, reflect this progress? Would the trees on the Champs Elysees been chopped down? I was assured by Karol Klacko that one could stain the soul of Paris.

Karol Klacko was a friend of my brother, Sattoo. Though he was Czech, he was by temperament a Parisian in spirit and passion. When he got agitated, he let his arms do the talking. He was a wonderful man, and he was at the airport to receive me and offered to come with me to meet Pierre Cardin. I declined, though he might have been useful as an interpreter. Pierre Cardin spoke very little English and I did not speak French. The PIA manager said that there was a young Pakistani girl on the staff and I took her along with me. That she was fluent in French was a bit of an exaggeration.

I had been briefed that Pierre Cardin was considerably miffed because Air France had spurred his offer to design the uniform of its air hostesses. He saw the chance of being asked to do this by an international airline as a rebuff to Air France. The discussion I had with him was of a general nature. I had stressed the importance that the new design should not be too great a departure from the present uniform, in that we needed to retain the shalwar-kameez and the dupatta. He listened quietly. I then suggested to him that before he put pen to his sketchpad, he should visit Pakistan. To have asked a French designer was a bold step, but we wanted to get it absolutely right. “We need you to blend the modern with the traditional, and not to lose out on either account.” This needs some translation, but he got the drift.

Present at the meeting was his chief cutter, Andre Oliver and Madame Pascuier, a kind of special assistant. When I asked him about the sort of fee he would want, he was fairly dismissive. He said that his main interest was the challenge. I got the impression that he was prepared to design the uniform without any fee. Pierre Cardin was a shrewd businessman and he saw that the opportunity presented him a platform that would allow him to launch himself as an international designer. In principle, we had reached an agreement and he decided to visit Pakistan and would bring Andre Oliver with him.

In the meantime, we had gone ahead with our own competition and I was surprised at the number of entries we received. Everybody had his or her idea how the PIA Air Hostess should be dressed. We held the finals to coincide with Pierre Cardin’s visit, and among the judges, as I recall, were Alys Faiz and Begum Kulsom Saifullah.

Pierre Cardin was not keen on tourist sites, but the bazaars fascinated him. He was interested in fabrics and designs and the colors. In Peshawar, at Qissa Khani, he bought thousands of rupees worth of glass bangles. What would he do with them? He said to watch out for his next collection.

He held discussion with the department concerned and he asked questions about the average height and weight of our girls. There was some talk about the color of the uniform and we held to our position that it should be green, and it was. But for the winter uniform, we agreed to a smart biscuit brown.

It took several months and I made numerous trips to Paris. On one such trip, I had gone to London before going to Paris for what was a crucial meeting with Pierre Cardin. I stayed at the Liberal Club, Winston Churchill had been a member. I was greeted by the hall porter with this cheerful information: “You are the youngest gentleman to stay at the Club, Sir.” I saw this bit of trivia as a warning.

The Liberal Club was in Whitehall. It was stuffy, snobbish, anti-feminist and really a museum-piece and bore no resemblance to The Drones Club, frequented by Bertie Wooster in P.G. Wodehouse books about the British upper-class. I fell ill and telephoned our PIA manager, M. Naseer, who also happened to be a close friend of mine. He had worked for Swiss Air and claimed that I had persuaded him to join PIA. In any case, he was one of our brightest officers and a cheerful man in the bargain.

The PIA doctor, Dr Cowan, was not available but he brought along Dr Mazhar Ali Khan who turned out to be a family friend. Dr Mazhar took one look at me and said that I had an abscess and I needed to get to a hospital. He took me to the King’s College Hospital (my father had done his internship there) and the abscess was drained. But I had to remain in hospital for a few days.

I told the doctor that I had a most important meeting in Paris. He was aghast but I insisted and all bandaged up, I went to meet Pierre Cardin. He looked at me in horror. I was unwell and groggy and was close to fainting. But I got a glimpse of the uniform that he had designed. It was stunning. It was still a shalwar-kameez, but he had taken the bagginess out of the shalwar. The dupatta became a sort of hood. We had anticipated that there would be some criticism. There always is as a matter of general principle. But the Pierre Cardin Uniform was received with near unanimous acclaim. But more than that, it became a fashion trendsetter not only in Pakistan, but in many Western countries as well.

We knew we had a winner and PIA changed the direction of its advertising. We created a campaign around the uniform. PIA had already established itself as a safe and reliable airline. But the Pierre Cardin uniform was a giant leap forward in our image as a modern airline. My own role had been marginal. I had been merely the liaison between the airline and the designer. It had been Asghar Khan’s idea and he had stood his ground. In the cultural context of Pakistani society, it was both a bold and imaginative decision.

The final tribute came when the European staff at our foreign stations that had balked at wearing the shalwar-kameez demanded that they be issued the Pierre Cardin uniform. As for Pierre Cardin, he became even more famous. He hadn’t designed the uniform for money. As best I recall, we paid him something like $1,200 which even in the ‘60s was not a lot of money. But we had both gained. That’s what’s called a good bargain.

A man of vision
Nur Khan is a sports person and cricket is only one of the games that he follows. He does not get too passionate as he did about hockey and squash. He is a man of strong, clear-cut views on most matters, a closed mind but one who leaves a window open. That was his management style, an impatient man who was result-oriented, a competitive man because he sought the best, brooked no nonsense. But behind the tough guy exterior was a compassionate man and one who was embarrassed when he was caught in an act of kindness.

A former Test cricketer, now wrinkled with age came to see me and wanted a job in PIA. I told him that he was already passed retirement age. He looked to be in despair and he gave me a sob story including informing me that he had come by bus. I felt awful since tears were rolling down his cheeks. I went to see Nur Khan. Nur Khan read me the riot act. It was the job of the cricket board to look after its players. I told him that while I agreed, meanwhile I had a very distressed old man in my office. I suggested that we could hire him as a coach of the PIA team.

"Bloody nonsense," he said and read me a further clause of the riot act. And then like a storm that had spent its fury, he asked me what sort of salary did he have in mind. I mentioned a modest sum. "Hire him and ask the accounts department to pay him a year's salary in advance," he said and he shook his head and called me a "bloody fool." The impulse of compassion had gone. I am pretty certain that Nur Khan has no recollection of this but for me it defined the man.

PIA's sports department was not something pre-planned and not certainly its cricket team. Nur Khan almost gave the impression that he considered cricket as a waste of time. In 1960-61, Pakistan toured India and the first Test match was at Mumbai at the Brabourne Stadium. I was doing the commentary and the commentary position was high atop the Tata Pavilion, the main clubhouse; so high in fact that one felt that one needed an oxygen mask. They were a lot of stairs one had to climb to reach it. I got a message that Nur Khan had arrived and was at the ground watching the match, indeed watching Hanif Mohammad and Saeed Ahmed involved in a scintillating partnership. I went down during the lunch interval to meet him. I think he fudged up some story that he had some work in Mumbai and had just dropped in to see the match.

"What does Hanif do for a living?" he asked. I told him that I thought he worked for the PWD, courtesy Kafiluddin Ahmed, a wonderful man who did more for cricket than any one else I can think of and about whom I will write separately when I get down to persons like Justice Cornileus and I.A. Khan. Nur Khan asked me to find out whether Hanif Mohammad was interested in working for PIA. I spoke to Hanif who said that a house went with his job. To cut a long story short, Hanif was hired.

When I returned to Karachi, the lovable Mir Mohammad Hussain was the PIA sports officer and Mir Saab had his own style of making a point. "We've hired Hanif. I'll need ten more players to make up a team," he pointed out. "Start looking for players," I told him and I would get Nur Khan's approval. I never got a formal approval but merely a perfunctory "do what you like". At the same time he told me that I was not to waste my time on cricket and get on with the job for which I was hired. That's how PIA became a power-house in cricket. But Nur Khan laid out the general philosophy: sportsmen could play as much as they wanted but they should also work so that they could be absorbed in the regular cadre.

There is no other organization in the world that has done more for sports than PIA. And the entire credit for this goes to Nur Khan. Publicity for the airline was farthest from his mind. He was a genuine sports lover and he considered our sportsmen as a national trust and he was in a position to help them. "A sportsman should be able to concentrate on his sport and not have to worry about from where his next meal was coming."

He kept himself abreast of all major sports events and unofficially it became my job to keep him posted. When Mohammad Ali, as Cassius Clay fought Sonny Liston, it was late at night according to our time and first thing in the morning he buzzed me on the inter-com and the red light started to blink. It rarely did unless there was a crisis situation. I had just got in. I answered it, somewhat anxiously. Nur Khan wanted to know the result. I told him I would find out. I telephoned APP and got the result. I got him on the inter-com and told him that Cassius Clay had won. "Are you sure? " he asked, excited like a true boxing fan. "Come on over," he ordered me. He was in a meeting but as far as he was concerned, the meeting was over and he discussed the fight with me. "Amazing," he said, "but I knew he would win. He's a true champion." He was jubilant, as if he had landed the knock-out punch himself.

Nur Khan is best remembered in the sports field for the starring role he played in making Pakistan world hockey champions. He had the rare gift of picking the right man for the right job and he brought a remarkable energy to the post of the president of the Pakistan Hockey Federation; considering that he was also the head of PIA which was a full time job this was no mean feat. To both jobs he brought a total commitment. My own interest in hockey was marginal and I was kept out of the loop. Quick to realize that modern hockey would be played on Astroturf and this would put Pakistan at a serious disadvantage, he cut through red tape and provided Pakistan with its first Astroturf pitch.

He also became the president of the cricket board but I felt that he was somewhat out of depth. But for the record he was instrumental in making Imran Khan captain ahead of the claims of more senior players and he was the first one to raise the idea of 'neutral' umpires and the match-referee. Cricket is a game that is slow to respond to new ideas and he has had to forego the credit for these revolutionary changes.

Not hockey, nor cricket, though his contribution was considerable, he was the first to see the potential of squash and he turned his attention to it and for reasons I found baffling, he put me in charge. He built the PIA Squash Complex, at that time, the world's most modern. He sent me to London to talk to the BBC to televise the game and the BBC felt that with the technology available at that time it was not possible. I spoke to Athar Waqar Azim of PTV and although he had never seen a game of squash, he was willing to give it a go. And what a great job he made of it. Jahangir Khan owes much to his own talent and to his father, Roshan Khan. But it was Nur Khan who spotted Jahangir Khan as a potential world champion. Had there been no Nur Khan, would there have been Jahangir Khan, the greatest squash player ever? One can't say but the golden door was opened for him by Nur Khan.

I had my ups and downs with him when he was my boss in PIA. My respect for him as a professional has never wavered. But it is as a person, as a decent, caring human being that my affection for him has remained steady. One can always tell who are one's well-wishers and who are the time-servers. I have been a well-wisher and now that he has retired, I can even claim to be his friend. Nur Khan will not disown this friendship.

Managers to remember
Brigadier ‘Gussie’ Hyder managed the Pakistan team that toured England in 1962. He got the job as a result of a scathing report of Pakistan team’s manager on its tour of India in 1961. Dr Jehangir Khan had been the manager and his report confirmed the validity of a Spanish proverb: “Beware the fury of a patient man.”

When Ayub Khan read the report he is said to have made the notation that the players were goondas and in future someone should be sent who would deal with them with an iron-hand or sentiments to that drastic effect. In Ayub Khan’s scheme of things only a military man fitted the bill.

‘Gussie’ Hyder, fortunately or unfortunately, was not the drill-master that Ayub had sought. He was a cheerful, back-slapping type and a most likable man. Players loved him and though he would threaten dire punishment, he would only be beating the naughty floor.

In sports, his forte was polo and he had probably never seen a cricket match. My guess would be that the first cricket match he saw was the one against Worcester, Pakistan’s opening tour match. I would wonder what he would have made of this strange game where the players dressed in white shirts and cream-flannel trousers and for long periods of time nothing appeared to be happening? Cricket creates its own controversies like a country invents an enemy. At that time ‘chucking’ was the flavour of the season. Prior to the tour, a Commonwealth XI had visited Pakistan and Richie Benaud and Colin Cowdrey had been members of the team. I had overheard Benaud telling Cowdrey that the bowling actions of some of the Pakistanis were suspect. I had confronted Benaud and there had been a slanging-match in which I had pointed out to him that he had won a series against England with Meckiff and Rorke and was the last person who should have been talking about suspect actions. But word had spread through cricket’s grapevine and the media in England was waiting, like highwaymen hiding before the ambush.

‘Gussie’ Hyder lived in blissful innocence of this ambush. Crawford White of The Daily Express fired the first salvo when he sought out the manager for an interview. “I am told that some of your bowlers are chuckers?” he had asked in a gentle inquiry and not as an accusation. “What do you mean some? All my bowlers are chuckers and bloody good ones,” the manager had responded. Hyder’s answer completely floored Crawford White. He came up to me and asked me if the manager was for real. “You have met your match,” I told him leaving him completely bewildered. Cricket is a complicated game and there is no crash course available to understanding its nuances. During the Leeds Test Pakistan lost an early wicket and it was nearing the draw of stumps. It was decided to send in Nasim-ul-Ghani as night watchman. The manager wanted to know why he was being sent and he was told and seemed satisfied. Nasim survived and the next morning he was padded up. “Why the hell are you padded up?” the manager wanted to know. “Because I am not-out,” the batsman told him. The manager was perplexed: “You were sent in as the night watchman. A regular batsman should go in,” was the opinion of the manager.

We were playing Glamorgan at Swansea and it was a bitterly cold morning. It had been raining and the start had been delayed. As happens the players were just hanging around, lounging or playing cards. Fazal Mahmood had arrived to join the team and was sitting with the manager. I joined in the conversation. “Why are players just hanging around,” he wanted to know. “They should be on the ground exercising.” He told Fazal to round them and get them to do P.T.I suggested that there was the danger that a player might pull a muscle in the damp, cold weather. “Nonsense. They have to be tough,” he said and so the players were rounded up and they did their P.T. exercises. Obviously with little enthusiasm and much grumbling.

Despite all these gaffes he was a popular manager because at heart he was a very decent and kind man. On tours, the local Pakistani community takes it upon itself to be the custodian of the team’s morals and the manager receives a steady stream of complaints. A player was seen entering a bar, another with a girl in tow and yet another arriving at his hotel late at night. These were seen as trespasses against the good name of Pakistan. ‘Gussie’ Hyder made it clear to the complainants that he was in-charge of discipline and he hadn’t outsourced it to them.

I got on very well with him. I don’t think he was entirely aware that it was an unhappy team and the results were proof of it, a case of ignorance being bliss. But the players did not have a quarrel with the manager, they had a quarrel with one another and ‘Gussie’ Hyder must have heaved a sigh of relief when the tour was over. But he would have been better educated about the game and the games that are played within the game.

I.A. Khan was an altogether different person. He was a senior civil servant and considered himself something of an expert. He managed the 1967 team to England with Hanif Mohammad as the captain. Khan ‘Saab’ had played first-class cricket and I think had been the captain of the Aligarh Muslim University team or one of its stars for whenever he talked about cricket, it was Aligarh that would be his terms of reference. He himself still played club cricket and when posted at Karachi, he would turn up every weekend for the Karachi Gymkhana. As a civil servant, he enjoyed the reputation of being very correct and above board. But he had a soft spot for cricketers and when he had been Chief Controller of Imports and Exports (CCIE) a Test cricketer would manage to get a permit to import a car.

There were no problems on the 1967 tour, and if they were they were handled quietly. I was doing the commentary for BBC and had little to do with the team. There was one occasion at Lord’s when I lost my cool with him. Pakistan was playing Middlesex and Mohammad Ilyas twisted his ankle going for a sharp single. He was carried off and brought to the dressing-room. The ankle was swelling before our eyes and I asked Khan ‘Saab’ whether he had sent for a doctor. “Omar yaar, in our days we would just apply choona and haldi and carry on playing.” This infuriated me and I told him that since Ilyas was a PIA employee I would send for the PIA doctor. Rather than be offended, he thought it was an excellent idea and I duly called up Dr Cowan and he looked after Ilyas.

I.A. Khan was a genuine lover of sports. Apart from cricket, he played tennis until he fell under the spell of golf and that becomes a full-time love affair. He was a thorough gentleman and a man of breeding and learning. His contribution to cricket was huge. Was he an aristocrat with a common touch or a common man with an aristocratic bearing? He was probably neither. But he was a special man and he was commanding without being arrogant. He was a very decent person and for a senior civil servant he had both feet on the ground.
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