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This week 50 years ago: Long-distance marriage

Updated August 04, 2014


Bride Shehzad Abbas
Bride Shehzad Abbas

Ah, the days of long-distance marriages. Only if Skype was around at the time! On Aug 7, 1964 a news item in Dawn accompanied by a photograph about an unusual wedding ceremony caught many an eye.

It said Shehzad Abbas, daughter of Ghulam Abbas (editor of Ahang) left for Canada on Aug 6 to join her husband, Masood Ahmed, son of Shahid Ahmad Dehalvi (editor of Saqi), after the marriage in absentia.

The wedding had taken place on July 26 at a Karachi hotel after which a contract was sent to the groom which he ‘duly’ signed and returned.

According to the report, Mr Dehalvi’s daughter was married the same way in 1963.

When the young woman was thinking of leaving for Canada to meet her husband, two Canadians arrived in Karachi for an entirely different reason. On Aug 3, J. L. Olsen and Norm Williams, senior engineers working for the Canadian General Electric Company, landed in the city to finalise technical specifications of the 132mw Karachi Nuclear Power Project proposed to be built near Paradise Point. The engineers held meetings with officials of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

Mind you, there was no alarming dearth of electricity supply in the city in the 1960s. But that week, the paucity of an expected product made it to the headlines. On Aug 4, the Pakistan Association of Printing and Graphic Art Industry (there was one?) expressed concern over the shortage of Karnaphuli paper that had resulted in an increase in the product’s price. The association requested the government to put the paper on the ‘free list’ or on the OGL so that an adequate quantity could be imported.

The next day, Aug 5, the city felt proud when one of its daughters, Dr Razia Rahimtoola, was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. She was the first woman to receive the honour. Dr Rahimtoola was serving at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) as associate physician (paediatrics) at the time.

It was a phase in the history of the country when medicine seemed to be the profession that young boys and girls felt strongly about. Perhaps that’s why a students’ conference was held at the Government College Nazimabad. (Nazimabad was a happening place in the ‘60s). On Aug 8, at the conclusion of the moot attended by 15 student bodies of the city, it was demanded that the number of seats at the Dow Medical College be increased and the establishment of one more medical college be included in the government’s next five-year plan. Well, their demands were paid heed to.

Why not. After all, all kinds of diseases were on the rise and people needed medical care. On Aug 9, it was reported that stomach ailments were badly affecting people in some neighbourhoods, particularly in Bangalore Town and PECHS.

‘Stagnant water’ (accumulated because of torrential rains) was said to be the cause of the disease, and the Karachi Housing Society Union was being accused of showing laxity in not draining out the rainwater in time.

Isn’t it every citizen’s responsibility, by the way? Just a thought.

Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2014