Pakistans first adult magazine ishtraq in 1970

Pakistan’s First Adult Magazine “Ishtraq”—You Won’t Even Believe It.

by Ayesha Sohail

Hard-hitting books, dirty jokes, and beautiful women help the majority remain in their inner shell of fantasy surrounded by kinkiness. We, the present generation, might think that the world was safe from these sexual fantasies in the 1950s and 1960s. But the reality is, the formula has never been changed. People from every age always find a way to watch “Fifty shades of grey” and read “Playboy” in their own way according to their own era. Do you think Pakistan is an exception? No way, (Kaisy peechy reh sakty hain Bhai?)

Poster of Karachi’s nightclubs Oasis and Playboy(established in 1970s especially for middle and lower class clients) in Saddar area Tariq road

In the 1950s, when America launched Playboy and Penthouse (Adult magazines), people smuggled them into Pakistan. They started selling them at a price affordable to the only elite class. (Matlab ghareeb ka koi dil nahi tha?) It took Pakistanis almost 23 years to understand this notion, and in 1976, the journalists decided to publish Pakistani Playboy “Ishtraq” in Urdu that cost only Rs. 3 a copy.

Ishtraq Magazine Cover
It all started when Pakistan’s film industry produced the first X-rated film, “Dulhan Aik Raat Ki,” in 1975. It became a massive hit for Zinda Dilan-e-Pakistanis. Ishtraq was not published on glossy papers rather carrying black and white pictures. It had a day to day political articles, short stories, and kinky photos from Playboy and Penthouse, which are the real hit for the people. (Political articles ka to bahana hi tha). The magazine also had a column on ‘sexual advice‘ in which psychologists answered readers’ questions.
Source: Dulhan Aik Raat Ki Youtube video

Okay, coming to the point, the magazine was only available in the big metro cities – Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. After about ten months, its circulation grew by 400% in Pakistan (too much…uhh) even though the publishers had raised its price by 50% in July 1976 from Rs.3 to Rs.4.50. (Achi cheez ka daam wese e barh Jata Pakistan mein).

Former President of Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (1924-1988)

Unfortunately, the magazine went out of print with the Zia-ul-Haq regime’s coming into power in 1978. My sympathies 🙁 … That’s why some liberals hate Zia’s regime; others appreciate his step while Zia be like:


Interestingly, in 1978, the reactionary against Zia-ul-Haq had renewed the license and allowed it to function only as a social lifestyle magazine.  Later in 1979, the government canceled the license again because of the apolitical story considered a taunt against Zia-ul-Haq’s teeth.

Did you know about Ishtraq? And what are your thoughts about its ban? Let’s know in the comment section. 

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