THE issue of price hike has always put governments in a spot of bother; it’s not just a 21st century phenomenon. On Nov 29, 1972, this newspaper reported that prices of essential commodities had registered an increase despite the government’s warning to traders to bring them down. Most of the items were being sold at higher prices causing hardship to the lower middle-class and middle-class segments of society. For example, one seer of atta, which was a week back available for 62 paisa, was now sold for 75 paisa. The prices of wheat, maida and suji had also gone up in the span of a week.

However, the provincial food minister, (who also held the portfolio of Sindh’s minister for revenue and law) Syed Qaim Ali Shah in a statement issued from Karachi on Nov 28 claimed that the prices of commodities such as atta, sugar and vegetable ghee were gradually coming down because of various measures taken by the government. He was of the view that the upward price trend was experienced globally, adding that the devaluation of the Pakistani currency had also contributed to the problem. Doesn’t it all sound familiar?

Inflation was indeed a cause for concern for citizens, but on Dec 2, Karachiites got to witness something pretty eye-catching. An exhibition of graphics by the Turkish artist Mustafa Aslier opened at the Arts Council. About 60 exhibits revealed the plasticity of the artist’s style which, according to a critic, was a synthesis of the modern artistic idiom and the ancient Anatolian cultural milieu. “His etching and woodcuts in abstraction are co-related with the local environment and are versatile expressions of his thinking self, emphasising the relationship between his personality and the environment. He combines the virtues of the Oriental philosophy of the self with the modern techniques and styles of western paintings.”

The show at the Arts Council again highlighted the fact that Karachi had always been, and still is, an urban attraction whose tourism potential has never been fully tapped. (To be honest, even now when the city’s colonial history is celebrated by scholars and town planners alike, nothing is being done about it.) To work in that direction, on Dec 1, Sindh’s Group Committee of Regional Planning of Tourism set up three separate groups to look into the issues related to the development of tourism in Karachi region. They were made to deal with the beaches and coastal areas, historical and archaeological centres and facilities of transport and other allied matters. The secretary of the ministry of minorities affairs and tourism, Enayatullah, said on the occasion that the groups would help in preparing a more useful master plan for tourism in Karachi. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Naval Headquarters, the KDA, Provincial Irrigation and Highway departments, the PTDC and foreign experts working on the master plan project for the city.

That said, not all tourists seem what they actually were in those days. On Nov 28, an American couple was arrested from a hotel for possessing hashish — 35 seers — by the Excise Police. They were identified as Thomas Martin and Deborah Jane Peterson. They had entered Pakistan through Torkham border, and were heading towards Denmark.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2022

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