Norman- The Man, The Legend



From rocking the 1970s to reaching 70 years of age, this man, the legend, has
played an unimaginable serenading role in transforming the music scene in
Pakistan like no other in his brand of crooning. He is, without an iota of doubt, an
iconic person and the epitome of ‘western music’ phenomenon in Pakistan. He is
And the good thing is, he shares his glorious 70 years this year with
Norman’s contribution to the ‘popular’ variety of music and singing of the 1960s,
1970s and 1980s has been colossal; he is clearly one of the most popular
personalities of his era and continues to mesmerize audiences. As the lead
singer for some of Pakistan’s original live music bands, such as the Moon-Glows,
In-Crowd, Talismen, Keynotes etc; his voice alone could launch a thousand
people tapping their feet at discotheques, clubs and the party-scenes in Karachi.
When singing his favorite songs, his deep penetrating voice, powerful and soul-
searching, is familiar to the vocal chords of legendary artists such as Louie
Armstrong (What a Wonderful World); Frank Sinatra (My Way); Jim Reeves
(Put Your Sweet Lips); Billy Ocean (Caribbean Queen); Engelbert
Humperdinck (Please Release Me) and Tom Jones (Delilah).
Norman was among the first popular musicians to have been interviewed on
television’s mass-appeal ‘Zia Mohyuddin Show’ in the 1970s and also toured
Singapore with the Talismen, playing at the famed Merlin Hotel as the first pop-
band from Pakistan! One of his fans in the Far-East was none other than the
world boxing heavy-weight champion Joe Frazier! (See Picture)
Music and singing keeps him going. His 3-piece band today, including Gerard
Vanderlowen and Clifford Lucas is in great demand throughout Karachi at music
shows, club-evenings, weddings, family gatherings and special occasions. There
is no other group of musicians that can match this trio’s virtuosity in singing the
delightful songs of the golden era of music.
Above all, Norman has been a family man all through his life; his wife Nancy has
stood by him like a rock and his two girls Narissa and Nicole-Ann have made him
proud. I can recall the beautiful rendering of ‘But You Love Me Daddy’ which
Narissa sang as a 6-year old alongside Norman on the guitar. On the other hand,
the 70th birthday party surprise, aptly called “Vintage Dude” by Nicole-Ann was
indeed, very creative, thoughtful and stunning.
Though he is forever performing at some show or the other throughout Karachi,
he is always there in church lending his echoing voice at the daily morning Mass
at 6.30 a.m. and with his Sunday Morning Choir for the 8.00 a.m. service.
God bless you Norman. Keep going.

Posted in Contributions by Christians, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pakistan TV Karachi Shows in 60-70’s


*Raju Jamil*

“Sach Khedoun Aie Barhamin…Gar Tu Bura Na Maanay
Tere Sanam Kadoun Ke Butth Ho Gaye Puranay”

This famous verse of Allama Iqbal had a whole meaning that one of its line was adopted by PTV-Karachi’s GM Aslam Azhar to create a comedy show—the Frost Report of David Frost kind—-in 1969 as “Gar Tu Bura Na Maanay” which had Mohsin Shirazi as it’s “David Frost” supported by a stock cast of four; Zafar Masood, Mohammad Yusuf, Zahoor Ahmed and Shahnaz Ghani (of “BAMBI” child wear outlet since 60’s).

“GAR TU BURA MAANAY” (GTBNM) was hilarious and a parody of many of our customs held during marriages. It was mostly a satire well presented in a formidable style with boxed laughters and sometimes generating a roar of laughter from the viewers of the only network in Pakistan then.

The ongoing golden jubilee year of television in Pakistan…essentially PTV….has many a tales to talk about and remember–from each of it’s several centres which all–produced some most remembered dramas, talk shows and events which remain as infectious as ever. When the private networks will celebrate their golden jubilee—if they reach that point—all people will remember will be advertisements and political battles with no results they were subjected with …every day but never never on Sunday:)

GTBNM…. ran for several weeks and took a break when Aslam Azhar, the Wizard of PTV left for Islamabad on a higher assignment..later becoming the only and ever MD of PTV and later Chairman of PTV and Radio Pakistan. No one has held such combined assignment at Ministry of in Pakistan. Hail Aslam Azhar! He should be awarded NISHAN e Imtiaz on 26th November, 2014 when (or if) the Ministry of information finds time to celebrate such an important event of this wonderful Nation Pakistan. I am certain to have a million “aye’s” on my recommendation above for Aslam Sahab.

GTBNM…..made a come back in 1970-71 with the same name and this time Neelofer Alim Abbasi, Zeenat Yasmine, Qazi Wajid, Shakeel Chughtai, Khurshid Talat and myself were stock artiste and after a few weeks—my friend the producer Ishrat Ansari told us or rather gave us a surprise that the name of GTBNM has been changed to “Sach Jama Jhoot Battaa Dou” (Truth+Lies/2) which was presented before a live audience at the open air stage of Hotel Metropole. The excitement of East and West separation had gripped the Nation and in order to suitably stage a media war against our neighbours…this stage show turned into a satirical one focusing on our enemy….and indeed it was a success that the live audience was jam packed and the regular telecast was keenly awaited or in today’s nomenclature…the “rating” was very good ( I can never understand this anomaly of the word RATING which appears to be too sacred and pious for some of the networks—:) ha ha ha ha ).

GTBNM….from PTV-Karachi will always remain in the minds and memories of those 50+ who saw that beauty of the sitcom and such sitcom can never ever be produced again…..unless it’s sponsored which is one good thing to mess up something great of the last without risk–:)

Thank you Aslam Azhar Sahab, Mohsin Shirazi (where is he? How is he?) and so fondly the late members of the stock cast; Zafar Masood, Zahoor Ahmed, Mohammad Yusuf remembered. RIP all of them. The then viewers who are around these days do thank you for giving them an entertainment worth every second of watching it.

PTV has carved its name so strongly that it needs to continue with its great deeds well mixed with the achievements of past and the new dawn of current era.

“Sach Khedoun Aie Barhamin…
Gar Tu Bura Na Maanay

Tere Sanam Kadoun Ke
Butth Ho Gaye Puranay”

Raju Jamil,
PTV Drama Debut 2nd Dec-1967

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forgotten Stories of Karachi

Compiled By Durriya Kazi

Posted in Karachi History | Leave a comment

Hotel Metropole: An Experience

Author Unknown

(if the author of this narrative reads this, please let us know in comments section so we may give proper credit. Photos are also from various sources, some taken by me Amin H. Karim MD )

Old guys will enjoy reading beautiful history of Hotel Metropole

Hotel Metropole was inaugurated sometime in 1953-54. Founded by Cyrus Faramjee Minwala; but after Beach Luxury which came up in 1948.

Hotel Metropole was the second decent and worthwhile hotel of Karachi City with good cuisine in town. It was in the heart of Karachi. Its strength was basically being in city central area.

The main entrance from the Sindh Club side was glorious.
We had midgets (bow nay) on duty at the entrance gate and at the old fashioned grill lift operated manually. Surrounded by the four sides of the hotel was a huge lawn and a stage where I have attended at least 12 Christmas parties…and during the three consecutive ones, my Garden Rod Colony neighbor; Shaukat Aziz was with me. From 1957 to 1968 my father’s eldest sister Princess Mehr Bano Begum of Mamdot after Beach Luxury, stayed in HM as a long staying guest in room no.20 on 2nd floor. She died in this hotel…in 1963.

The top floor of the hotel was all round….fully occupied by the famous German airline LUTHANSA for it’s slip flights crew and offices.

The entrance to the hotel from Services Club side had a huge ballroom where I have attended at least 15 New Year Eve parties during 1968-1980. HM had three Bank branches of ; HBL, Grindlays and MCB. I remained posted in HBlL at HM from 1972 to 1974 July. hM had a huge office of the famous American airline PAN AM (as seen right the front centre view) and HM also had the most famous Chemist shop at the left row of this view right next to the Gerry’s Travels who’s owner died in PIA’s Cairo Aircrash of 1964.

By 70’s the hotel got itself under it’s own management, two of the most reckoned night clubs; in fact one a Discotheque namely “Karachi Discotheque” on the first floor and a night club “SAMAR” which were decorated royally with chamois sofa seat covers and beautiful candle stands with coolest air-conditioning you can feel in Genting Highland, Malaysia or in Salalah, Oman now….. It had a chilling effect and the liquor with imported sifts drinks in cans like coke and pepsi. The food was awesome and so were the people. SAMAR always had a Foreign Band in attendance….with some great numbers like “Yesterday Once More” and “Mardi GRAS” not go forget that French romantic hit Je’Taime for slow dancing. We divided the weekends in two each fir SAMAR and Karachi Discotheque….as both the places had a different mood and ambiance…. SAMAR more of ballroom dancing and light music with live shows and KD with more of Rock n Roll and Twist numbers…..The famous Christian local band IN CROWD were amazing and mesmerizing at the KD and I think in SAMAR also.

KD has great memories of knuckle duster fights arising out of some bullys getting drunk after one or two glasses….and then the flying handle and sometimes knives even but never a gun!!

Hotel Metopole had an AC in every room… I remember the make “Welbilt” and “Westinghouse” which had chilling effect. The first floor had many offices by the 70’s including GULLIVER TRAVELS of Nawab Kaifi husband of our TV Artiste Ghazala Kaifi. The rooms were larger then the ones PC has now…and the view from the Sindh Club side was beautiful… You could see the lush green lawn of Frere Hall even.

Right on the road touching the shop pavement of HM in front of HBL… a man use to showcase some retrievable parts of ships he use to get after the ship were scrapped in HUB chowkidars, Karachi. Ship locks, Helms, Bell….et al were promptly displayed every day scattered on the roof and bonnet of my phoppi’s PREFECT car…..which eventually went to that old man as a gift from the Princess.

During my HBL days…not very long but relatively limited to two years, we had many staff of PIA Shafi Courts Booking and District Sales Office next to Karachi Gymkhana visiting and and us visiting them for distribution of their salaries in cash…. I remember people like Abdullah Jaffery, Mrs. Munaf, Shahida Jaffery (wife of our dear departed TV Artiste Saleem Jaffery.. A Unikarian) and (now) the wife of former Governor SBP Saleem Raza….who became so cooperative that we enjoyed preferred booking on priority through hand written PIA tickets then.

Mr. Malabari, the Chief Accountant at HM gave me special discounts at SAMAR and KD with two times a month free entry/dinner etc for four……..

Entering Hotel Metropole gave you a totally relaxed feelings. I can never forget it’s cupcakes and special large size pastries…. Malabari use to send us at the branch.

The new year parties were a fairytale that still looms o wonderfully in our minds. Of those umpteenth NYP at HM……all had live bands and I can never forget my tuxedo which my father had bought for me from Hong Kong in 1967…..which gave me an extra advantage with a black bow, a golden inside jacket with tux having shinny selvedge on coat collars and trousers sideline that sanding to the music of Ce Sera Sera played by Defenders at Hotel Metropole’s ballroom was ever mesmerizing…..and so was my partner Veronica from PIA who migrated to Perth, Australia after the last dance I had with her in 1969 NYP at HM.

The history has it that the American actress Donna Reed spent two nights at HM when she was flying from London to Bangkok by PAN AM. She had desired to see Frere Hall and Jehangir Kothari Parade in Clifton. The American Embassy took care of her. That was probably in 1964. I saw her at the lobby of HM being received by Happy Minwala’s father…….

Our famous actors of that era like; Sabiha, Santosh, Nayyar Sultana, Bahar, Shamim Ara, Darpan….all use to stay in HM whenever on shoot in Karachi. In fact the famous movie “Saheli” starring Shamim Ara, Darpan and Nayyar Sultana ( also linked as a copy of Indian hit ANDAZ ) also has a song which mentions the glory and modernism of Hotel Metropole by words..sung by Irene Perveen.

The most famous outlet in HM was the Universal TDK/AKAI shop facing the Princely Travels adjacent to the other famous spot AMPIS SHEZAN…which still survives. That was the era of tape recorders and big spools recorded with music or speeches and fixed with two spools to loop the tape passing through a small gadget which carried the head having the system to read the magnetic tape ( just like the strip on your credit/debit visa card which carries your data ) and reproduce whatever recorded through a mic or direct cable system. The best known player one time and for long was AKAI….and I still have over 12 spools in my archived collection from 60’s and 70’s…… Our famous (Fifty-Fifty) TV artiste Adil Wadia use to work for Universal / AKAI. I had many cassettes and spools taped with my favorite songs there. In fact, if you pass between HM and AMPIS SHEZAN…you can still see UNIVERSAL/TDK closed shop with it’s signboard nobody…in this running world of Karachi….has time to take it off.

Another huge attraction to have tea or ice cream in HM’s coffee shop was the adjacent PALACE Cinema which was a small yet most visited cinema hall of Karachi for comedy and slapstick movies—specially the Sunday morning shows at 10 AM ( yeah….people were mad enough …..then that they got up at 8 AM for breakfast with the entire family or joint family and put on the radio to enjoy the special Sunday morning program “Hamid Mian K Yehan” with laughters and proximity…. ). Palace has now become shaadi gharr….the only development seen in this nation of 180 million if we are to talk about what have we achieved past 64 years? We now have shaadi ghars “all over this land”…(sorry Trini Lopez…!)

Hotel Metropole, Karachi has a huge history matching it’s size of plot now in focus of hawks!!!!

The sad part is that they failed to manage the hotel while Avaris did remarkably well due to their experience and service, quality and superb management.

Posted in Contributions by Parsis, Entertainment in Old Karachi | Leave a comment

June Thorburn

By Dr. Sohail Ansari

June Thorburn:

An English actress, who was born in Karachi on 8th June 1931. Her father was a colonel in the Indian Army. She spent most of her schooldays in boarding schools in India. It is said that she attended thirteen different schools in India and was expelled from ten of them. Iberia flight from Malaga bound for London Heathrow crashed in Sussex (England) on 4th November 1967 killing all 37 souls on board. One of those victims was June Thorburn, who was pregnant.

May be a black-and-white image of child
Posted in Karachi History | Leave a comment

The Legacy of Turab Studios in Commercial Photography

The Legacy of Turab Studios in Commercial Photography

By Menin Rodrigues

KARACHI: September 3, 2015 – Mohammad Turab was eons ahead of time when he
forecasted the photographic needs of industrial and commercial Pakistan, including corporations and advertising agencies. TURAB STUDIOS was established in 1948 by Turab, an oil-and- canvas artist, introducing pioneering photographic work when photography outlets in the city were limited to doing films retakes, family portraits and special occasions. Turab did it differently and started capturing ‘life’ in all its essence, splendour and transforming ‘lifeless’ products into lively objects of desire. He introduced handmade artworks, pen and ink, pencil sketches, spray-guns, halftones and linework of the highest quality. The outcome captured the imagination of visualizers and the country’s fledgling advertising space took on a new turn – thanks to Turab, creative photography was making its mark. Writes the late Anwar H. Chowdhury, his son-in-law in his memoir tracing the early years of Turab when he moved with his family from Patna, Behar to Bombay in 1943, “His lounge, the largest room in the flat, doubled as his studio where he seemed permanently engaged with a team of some 25 artists, painters, and others. There he was churning out cinema decorations, banners, show cards, posters, costumes, and hoardings etc., as well as designing and building sets for film and theatrical productions. On top of all that he undertook still-photography.” “When he moved in 1943 to Bombay, the commercial capital of India, he was looking for greener pastures that would also test his capabilities, which were not available to him in the provincial capital of Bihar. In fact, his arrival in Bombay was perfectly timed, because it was the start of the golden age of Bollywood.”

As Pakistan’s advertising gurus focused on the design, sketches and copywriting requirements of a campaign, the demand to take photographs of sites, structures, factories, models, and products grew; and when that happened, the Turab Studios was the Lone Ranger on the scene. They were well-equipped with a mix of top-end cameras, an assortment of lighting apparatus and an extra-ordinary spacious studio (on Elphinstone Street, Saddar) that could accommodate large, very large products, such as machinery, bed and drawing room furniture, and other fixtures, to be captured by the magic of cameras like the Linof Super, Hasselblad and Mamiya. The 1960s and 1970s saw the Turab Studios a place to be, agencies made a beeline to get a slot of their precious time and booked their photography requirements months in advance. The iconic exhibitions of the 1960s, such as the one held on the open grounds on the outskirts of Bunder Road, ultimately to be called ‘Numaish’ and the Decorama on the Polo grounds were occasions where the Turab Studios made a tremendous impact.

Turab’s sons Farooq and Feroze took on the mantle to continue the legacy of their illustrious father and did a splendid job of retaining the iconic work associated with Turab Studios. While Farooq was a mastermind behind the camera, building a network of clients and friends, his brother Feroze was the backend support in operational and management affairs. They were the best-known photography kings in the advertising industry.

Throughout Pakistan, the Turabs were called for industrial, commercial, and aerial photographic requirements of large multi-national and state organizations. In the 1950s, the Turabs also played a significant role in developing the logos of Pakistan Railways and Karachi Port Trust. A full- fledged framing section with a choice of hand-made frames in a variety of design and colors, added value and soon, the outlet was the talk-of-the-town.

Recalling the advent of advertising agencies and the profession itself, Chowdhury writes, “The infant state of Pakistan, backwater of the former British Indian Empire, had to nurture
almost every economic activity from an embryonic stage. When M. Turab set up Turab
Studios in Saddar in 1947 to provide his services, Pakistan’s advertising industry was
non-existent; not until the 1950s it started on a reasonably serious scale.”

When Queen Elizabeth visited Pakistan in 1961 and several VIP events of President Ayub Khan, the Turab Studios team was called upon to cover the functions.

“Turab Studios, in the heart of Karachi, was much more than its owner’s place of work.
It was a shrine to his labour and accomplishment, the sum of his life. A home from
home, where M. Turab had spent many a night, either painting away feverishly or too
late to go home.”

TURAB STUDIOS is no more, the brothers and their families have moved on but the endearing legacy of the pioneering work of their father Mohammad Turab, will live forever.

Posted in Art and Crafts of Karachi, Major Businesses in Old Karachi | Leave a comment

Memon Masjid by Artist Hanif Shahzad

Memon Masjid 27 by 36″ Oil on Canvas

The Memon Masjid located in Karachi, Pakistan, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the city located on M.A Jinnah Road. The first committee of the Memon Masjid was formed on 17th September 1948 and the first Adhan was given on 15th July 1949.

Posted in Art and Crafts of Karachi | Leave a comment

A Drive Down Victoria Road

A short clip of Abdullah Haroon Road (Old Victoria Road) as you go west towards Shahrah-e-Iraq (Old Clarke Street), passing by the on your left the building which has the dental office of father of President of Pakistan Mr. Arif Alvi, the Paradise Market (site of old Paradise Cinema) and the Saddar Market and finally Regal Chowk. On the right backside of ILACO Building, Hotel Jabees, Mehmoob Market, the lane which once had Capitol Cinema, and finally Saddar Post office. (Amin H. Karim MD)

Posted in Karachi Neighborhoods | 2 Comments

The First Citizen of Pakistan


A linguist, a journalist, a traveler, a scholar, and a writer.

He was issued the first Pakistani Passport, immediately after the independence in August 1947 in Karachi.

*Origin and early life:

Muhammad Asad was born into an Austrian Jewish family as “LEOPOLD WEISS” on 12th July 1900 into a small town called “Lemberg” of Astro-Hungarian empire (currently known as “Liviv” in Ukraine). His father Akiva Weiss was a lawyer unlike his grandparents who used to be Jewish Rabbis for generations. While still at school he got fluency in Hebrew and Aramaic beside his native German and Polish Languages. When he reached his mid-twenties, he also mastered in English, French, Persian and Arabic languages.

In 1920, after his graduation was completed, Leopold went to Berlin to become a journalist. He joined one of the most prestigious media houses in Europe “Frankfurter Zietung” and to prove his skills, he went to knock the door of Maxim Gorky, the famous Russian author, without intimation and successfully interviewed his wife.

*In Middle East:

In 1922, he was assigned by the newspaper to go to Palestine. Where he was posted in Jerusalem. Palestine was then under British mandatory rule. There, he had a chance to observe closely the teachings of all the major religions and consequently he was greatly inspired by the Islam.

In 1926, his love for the Islam took him to Saudi Arabia . He traveled all the way on the camelback, from Jerusalem to Macca through the desert to embrace Islam and acquired the name Muhammad Asad. “Asad” is the rendition of his basic name Leo or Lion.

He lived there for next six years and was very well received by the king Ibn Saud. Who appointed him one of his religious advisors and gave him some other responsibilities too.

By the year 1932, the political scenario began to change a little and so was the environment in the court of king. This made many of king’s advisors to flee out of the country. Sensing the change, Muhammad Asad also left the country and came to settle in british India.

*Asad In British India:

Muhammad Asad came directly to Lahore. Being a renowned Islamic scholar and author of many books already, he was warmly welcomed by the political and literary circles of Lahore, particularly Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal. Both of them quickly became good friends. Allama Iqbal actually encouraged him to write his book “Islam at the crossroads”. Which he wrote in no time and was published in 1934.

*Asad imprisoned:

At the start of world war-II in 1939, he was imprisoned by the british authorities in Lahore for he was of Austrian origin and thus the friend of their enemy. While his father Akiva was detained by the Germans into a concentration camp back in Austria because he was a Jew.

Asad was freed in 1942 after three years in prison.

After being released, he came to KARACHI and put all his efforts behind the ideology of Pakistan and worked tirelessly through his writings as a free lance journalist.

Finally the dream came true and Pakistan came into existence on 14th August 1947.

Acknowledging his services and unconditional support for Pakistan, none other than Quaid e Azam himself honored him by presenting him the first passport of Pakistan and declaring him officially the first citizen of Pakistan.

*Asad serving Pakistan:

As Asad was a great supporter of the movement of Pakistan. Therefore in 1947, not only he was awarded with the citizenship of

Pakistan but also he was appointed as Director of the “Department of Islamic reconstruction”.The core responsibility of this department was drafting the first constitution of Pakistan. Which he did successfully but after the death of Quaid e Azam, there was change in the goverment policies. So the first constitution of Pakistan was delayed until 1956. Finally, it was promulgated after much changes and additions into it.

Meanwhile, in 1949 Asad joined the ministry of foreign affairs as the head of Middle East division. In 1952 he was appointed as Pakistan’s envoy to United Nations in New York.

At UNO, he met a Polish American woman named “Pola”. which was to be his third wife. He came back to Pakistan along with Pola and submitted a formal application to the foreign ministry for the approval of his marriage. To much of his surprise! He was denied due to security reasons. This made him resign altogether from his responsibilities for Pakistan and he chose to stay back in New York never to come back again except in 1983, when he was invited for a short trip by then president Ziaul haq. Pola was converted and was named as Hamida Asad and they eventually got married.

*Asad’s literary work:

During his stay in New York he wrote his best seller autobiography “Road to Mecca” which is also translated in Urdu as “Shahrah e Macca” but the greatest work of Muhammad Asad is the translation of Holy Quran in English along with commentary to explain the contents of holy verses.

This book “The message of the holy Quran” took him seventeen long years to complete it and it is regarded as the most comprehensive and authentic translation of the Holy Quran in English so far.


In later years of his life, Asad went to settle in Spain. Where he died on 20 Feb 1992. He is buried near “Alhamra” in Granada. Which is one of the provinces of Former Muslim Andalusia in Spain. (Adapted and corrected article of unknown source)

May be an image of ‎1 person and ‎text that says '‎PAKISTAN پاکستان 1900 Rs.15 1992 MEN OF LETTERS ALLAMA MUHAMMAD ASAD‎'‎‎
May be an image of 1 person and standing

View insights

2.5K post reach

149You, Zafarullah Syed, Nargis Farooqui and 146 others


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Norman D’Souza

By Menin Rodriguez

FILM based on the life of Patrician NORMAN D’SOUZA, who rocked the music scene in Karachi from 1960s and still performs to live audiences.

1978, a Mansfield Films & Sanat Initiative presentation directed by Hamza Bangash is back via Locarno Shorts Weeks! This Pardi di domani nominee from 2020 produced by Rashid Maqsood Hamidi & Abid Aziz Merchant world premiered at Locarno Film Festival in 2020 will be streaming FREE worldwide from Feb 15-21, 2022. Now is your chance to experience the best of 1970’s Karachi lovingly re-imagined.

1978 will be available for free viewing and voting online from 15th to 21st Feb.Don’t forget to VOTE for 1978 as it’s in the running for the Audience Award.


Posted in Contributions by Christians | Leave a comment

Capture of Manora Island circa 1839

By Dr. Sohail Ansari

3rd February 1839 was a game changer for Karachi. The Fort of Manora came under fire, when East India Company stormed and captured Manora, leading to fall of Karachi under the Raj. Four years later, the rest of Sindh was also captured. Karachi was required as part of British strategy in Anglo Afghan War, due to it’s location. The port was what attracted the invasion, besides accessibility to Punjab and beyond. The history of Modern Day Karachi began with that capture. What was then a sleepy small fishing village quickly transformed into a major seaport. It soon became a big metropolis. The following century saw the growth of Karachi never witnessed before. This drawing was made on 2nd February 1839 as HMS Wellesley prepared to invade Manora under the command of Rear-Admiral Maitland.

Sir Alexander Burns had long recommended that ‘Kurrachee’ should be the first point to be occupied. In January 1839, Colonel Pottinger also advised that a force must go to Kurrachee, in order to take possession of that place.

H.M.S. Wellesley set sail with Rear Admiral Frederick Maitland, Commander in Chief on board to conduct the operations. The land forces were under the command of Brigadier Valliant.

On one hand negotiations were ongoing between the British and Talpur rulers who had already been squeezed hard. On the other, as a surprise, the Wellesley arrived unexpectedly all of sudden.

She attacked on the pretext that a gun was fired from the Manora Fort on their ship. It is controversial whether the gun was actually fired or not. If it was, there was debate on whether it was an actual act of belligerency, or a mistake, since the Manora Fort was grossly ill equipped for combat at the time.

The Fort of Manora was basically a mud made structure which was not really fit for defence. The Fort commander or ‘Killadar’ of Manora was a brave Baluchi soldier, Wasul Ben Butcha. There hardly were enough men in the Fort to think of them taking advance of firing the World’s super power navy. There were not even enough guns to hand. So, it is very unlikely that the Fort would have fired the ship. On that context, though, the British flagship 74-gun HMS Wellesley bombarded the Fort. It was completely smashed to smithereens by the bombardment. It engulfed the sky with smoke.

Despite all his pride the Baluchi Killadar was made to surrender and he hoisted the white flag. The army of British ground force immediately stormed Manora and Karachi. Consequently, the British took over Karachi on Sunday the 3rd February 1839 . It happened quickly within a matter of hours. Following surrender agreement, Karachi was formally occupied by the British on Thursday the 7th February 1839.

Seth Naomal Hotchand had corroborated with the foreign forces to help them plan the invasion and take siege of Karachi.

Manora turned out to be the gateway to the capture of Karachi (and subsequently of Sindh). The fortunes of the city changed and it witnessed an unprecedented growth in the following century.

Posted in Karachi History | 3 Comments

Naheed Iskander Mirza

By Dr. Sohail Ansari

May be an image of 3 people and people standing

Nahid Iskander Mirza 6 February 1919 – 23 January 2019In 1951, Mohammad-Ebrahim Mirza Amirteymour Kalali was posted as Iran’s Military Attaché to Karachi. His daughter, Nahid Afghamy came with him. She was married to Colonel Mehdi Afghamy and had a daughter. It was then that she met Iskander Mirza, Secretary of Defence of Pakistan, at a reception in the Russian Embassy. He was married too, and had six children. Still he fell in love with her. The love blossomed, she divorced and married Iskander Mirza in September 1953.


Naheed: The Mysterious First Lady of Pakistan

By Waseem Altaf

She was the wife of Iranian military attaché to Pakistan namely Lieutenant Colonel Afghamy in 1951. It is conjectured that since the Colonel had close dealings with the Ministry of Defense, Naheed met Pakistan’s Secretary Defense Sikander Mirza in some social gathering at Karachi. Perhaps they got involved much earlier, however, It was much later that the family of Sikander Mirza came to know of the close relationship.The Secretary Defense’ elder son Hamayun Mirza was studying in London and every summer Sikander Mirza and his wife Rifat Mirza would visit their son in UK. In early 1952 Hamayun Mirza, received a letter and some money telling him that the wife of Iranian defense attaché would be visiting London and he was to take care of her during her visit. Later that year, Sikander Mirza asked his son Hamayun to look for a suitable school for the younger daughter of Mrs. Afghamy. In the spring of 1953, Mrs. Afghamy herself took her daughter to a school in England for enrollment.On June 4, 1953, the younger son of Sikander Mirza got killed in a plane crash. Sikander Mirza came to Selsdon Park Hotel in Croydon, Surrey for a private grieving. It was here that Hamayun witnessed Naheed coming to the hotel and comforting Sikander Mirza in a very intimate way. The son got infuriated by Naheed’s behavior but some guests cooled him down. A few days later Sikander Mirza sent his son Hamayun to Karachi to join his mother and four sisters while Sikander and Naheed stayed behind. A month later Sikander returned to his family in Karachi.In April, 1954 Sikander Mirza was appointed governor of East Pakistan as the ruling Muslim League lost elections in the province and governor rule was imposed. Sikander Mirza left for Dhaka but chose not to take his family along.It is not known when Naheed got divorce from Colonel Afghamy but she admitted that she and Sikander Mirza got married by proxy on July 7, 1953.However, the actual marriage ceremony took place on September 5, 1953. But there is no public record of her account.In November 1954,Hamayun was getting married with the daughter of US ambassador in Pakistan Horace. A. Hildreth yet none of his family was present at the occasion. His mother Rifat was in China with a women delegation while Sikander Mirza was in Karachi with his four daughters. It was then that Naheed informed him that she could no longer be his secret wife and the relationship must be disclosed to the public. Sikander disappeared for one week and on his return informed his four daughters that he had married the ex-wife of Colonel Afghamy. The son Hamayun came to know of his father’s secret marriage on his wedding day while the first wife Rifat became aware of her husband’s second marriage after she returned from China. Sikander Mirza left his family for good and from then onward Naheed was to play a pivotal role in his life.On October 6, 1955 Sikander Mirza took the oath of Governor- General and a week later all four provinces of West Pakistan were merged into a single West Pakistan Province to create parity with East Pakistan. On March 6 Sikander Mirza was elected as President and the constitution was promulgated on March 23, 1956. Three days later, on March 26, 1956 with Nahid on his side Sikander Mirza took the oath as President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Thus, in a passage of two years, mostly through palace intrigues and backroom dealings, an ex-soldier and a career bureaucrat rose from the level of a department head to the position of the Head of the State. And the Iranian born Nahid Afghamy, the wife of a Military Attaché lifted by a government Secretary of the host country, became the First Lady of Pakistan. For the next two and a half years Nahid Mirza as wife of the President was to play a significant role in the national and international affairs of Pakistan. (Pervez Munir Alvi,2013)Mirjaveh, which is the main crossing point between Iran and Pakistan, was ceded to Iran under the presidency of Iskander Mirza. Nahid Mirza played an instrumental role in the deal, Ahmed Yar Khan writes in Inside Balochistan.Exiled by General Ayub Khan in 1959, who took over power in a military coup, Mirza lived remainder of his life in exile in London, England where he financially struggled running a small Pakistan cuisine hotel until his death. He died of a heart attack on 13 November 1969, his 70th birthday. President Yahya Khan denied him a burial in Pakistan. The Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi sent his personal plane to London to bring President Mirza’s body to Tehran, where he was given a state funeral. Hundreds of Iranians, including Prime Minister Abbas Hoveyda, and Pakistani expatriates in Iran bade farewell and offered their prayers.The funeral ceremony was marred by the absence of Sikander Mirza’s relatives living in Pakistan. The military government barred them from leaving Pakistan in time despite the best efforts by Ardeshir Zahedi, Iran’s foreign minister, and President Sikander Mirza’s friends in Pakistan and Iran. There are unfounded rumors that after the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979), his grave was desecrated.Naheed spent rest of her life in London in anonymity. Shepassed away in London on 25th January 2019.

30Yasmeen Kazi, Ghulam Nabi Kazi and 28 others11 CommentsLikeComment

Posted in Karachi History | 1 Comment