Women and Pakistan International Airlines in Ayub Khan’s Pakistan



This article weaves together several unique circumstances that inadvertently created spaces for women to emerge away from the traditional roles of womanhood ascribed to them in Pakistan. It begins by tracing the emergence of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) as a national carrier that provided an essential glue to the two wings of Pakistan. Operating in the backdrop of nascent nationhood, the airline opens an opportunity for the new working women in Pakistan. Based on first-hand accounts provided by former female employees, and supplementing it with official documents, newspaper reports and the advertising used for marketing at the time, it seeks to provide an illuminating insight into the early history of women in Pakistan. While the use of women as markers of modernity and propaganda is not new, here within the context of Cold War and American cultural diplomacy, the ‘modernist’ vision of the Ayub-era in Pakistan (1958-69), and its accompanying jet-age provide a unique lens through which to explore the changing role of women. The article showcases a different approach to understanding the so-called ‘golden age’ of Pakistani history: a neglected area of the international history on Pakistan, which is far too often one-dimensional.

Link to the article: https://doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2018.1472622

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