Filed under: Pakistan
The history of 60s and 70s Rock and Roll in Pakistan – at least within the focus of this site – is quite brief. The mix of influences that created the music of that time and place are unlike anything to be heard anywhere else on earth. And luckily, just when I think I have found the last piece to the puzzle, another record finds it way into my hands – or, in this case – my e-mail inbox.
The first pop song of Pakistan was “Ko Ko Ko Reena” from the Urdu film Armaan in 1966. The song, which was sung by Ahmed Rushdi and composed by Sohail Rana, is a mix of bubblegum pop and Pakistani filmi music. Not too long after, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Socialist Pakistan Peoples Party began a countrywide movement against Ayub Khan’s decade long dictatorship, which he eventually defeated. By 1969, bands that were playing American and British pop covers became popular in Karachi’s burgeoning night club scene as well as at hotels and private dance parties. Long hair came into fashion among young men and hashish became popular drug of choice on college campuses across Pakistan. And hippies from America and Europe flocked to Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.
That all ended in June 1977, when Bhutto’s Military Chief General Zia-ul-Haq – backed by the Jamaat-e-Islami – toppled Bhutto in a coup d’état and declared Martial Law. Zia-ul-Haq denounces the Bhutto regime’s “un-Islamic” ways and declares Nizam-e-Mustafa or Sharia law. This marked the end of the “Swinging ‘70s” in Pakistan, as night clubs and alcohol were banned throughout the country. Television and cinema, as well as popular music, were now subjected to government censorship. After the clamp down, most musicians moved away – many moving to America, Canada and England.
As for The Abstracts, I do know that composer / songwriter Mohammed Yousuf also worked with The Mods. But beyond that, I have not been able to fins anything further information about the band.
Many thanks to Milan Hulsing for contributing this selection.
Catalog number EMPP 5006 on EMI of Pakistan, released in 1976.