PIA and alcohol

PIA And Alcohol: An Affair In The Past.

by Maha Farooq

During the late 1960s and 1970s, Pakistani society was predominantly liberal with night cubs, bars and a thriving film industry. Youngsters clad in bellbottoms, hippie-esque shirts and long hair could be seen frequenting the streets. This 1972 cover of The Herald aptly channels the spirit of that time.

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Karachi in old times 1970

Pakistan was a popular tourist hub then and the national air carrier PIA had busy routes. PIA catered to its passengers with fancy inflight meals and a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. This picture from the Facebook page Photo Archives of Pakistan shows passengers being served alcoholic drinks:

PIA serving alcohol
Source: Photo Archives of Pakistan facebook account

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It is pleasant to look back at a time when the national airline was faring well and wasn’t embroiled in scandals and decline. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, PIA was a popular choice among passengers and was often ranked among the top ten airlines of the world. According to cultural critic and columnist Nadeem Farooq Paracha:

“It (PIA) had already been noted for having ‘the most stylishly dressed air hostesses’, great service, a widespread route and, ahem, ‘having a generous and tasteful selection of wines, whiskeys and beers’ on offer”.

Here is an excerpt from a PIA advertisement published in 1958:

PIA serves wine
Source: Historyofpia.com

In the late 1970s as right-wing elements became politically stronger, various Islamic reforms were enacted including a ban on alcohol.However, PIA is now a “dry airline” since serving alcohol was banned in 1977.

Whether it was the stylishly dressed staff, the world-class service or the great menu, we can now only look back wistfully at PIA’s past glory nowadays as the airline suffers from gross mismanagement.

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