1955 Pakistan

September 30, 2012



Denis Fowler is a retired diplomat who served in Iceland, Nepal, and Pakistan amongst other places.

He has kindly trawled his old photos and slides and sent this (slightly fuzzy) shot of his Ford Prefect, on standard  KA (Karachi) Pakistan plates, but identified as a diplomatic vehicle by the CD oval, which had silver letters on a dark green background and a white rim.    He adds that he bought the Prefect from UK Ford dealer Lex via  the tax-free Home Delivery Export Scheme in August 1955, and ran it for a couple of months before handing it back to Ford for shipment to Karachi.

He knew that upon becoming a republic in March 1956, Pakistan was planning to switch from driving on the left to the right, and so he ordered the new Ford in Left-Hand-Drive, but after he arrived in November 1955, the plan was scrapped for this extraordinary reason:  camel-drawn carts were then used to take the imported goods from Karachi docks to all parts of Pakistan, by day and by night, with their drivers sleeping much of the time.

It became recognised that the animals could not be trusted to walk unattended on the ‘wrong’ side of the road to that to which they had  been accustomed for generations.    It would have caused accidents and chaos, and so the new republican government never proceeded with its plan – which had probably merely been a symbolic act of casting off their imperial yoke, and not of any actual practical value.

We hope to see further pictures from Dennis’ delving in to his photos and slides!

His daughter spent periods in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Bolivia and his son drove back to Britain from Nigeria in a Landcruiser.    They have been asked to inspect their albums for period plate shots!

1955 British Ford 100E Prefect in Karachi, 1956. KAA 4957


Readers are advised to ask for such pictures of any old pals who once served abroad.    They are a unique record of extinct plate types, and will not generally be recognised as being of interest to their heirs, when they inherit parents’  old photo albums and transparencies/slides.      Sad to think how many great pictures are thrown out in house clearances…..



Below is an unusually-plated Morris Minor, also in Karachi, but shot by me (VB)  in 1965, and which for years I had never properly identified.

Apparently the Urdu script reads ‘Mashriq’ 41  – any ideas, anyone?

ANSWER from Europlate member Kurt Leothold  –

 “The word  correctly translated is: MAKRAN, a province from Baluchistan, Pakistan (Gwardar).”

Wikipedia notes: Makran Division (Persian: مکران ) was an administrative division of the Balochistan Province of Pakistan, until the reforms of 2000 abolished the third tier of government.    Districts of Makran Division included GwadarTurbatMand and Panjgur.

Makran is the ancient name for Baluchistan and was an exclave of Oman until 1958, when Pakistan bought it from the Sultanate of Oman.

So – thanks to Kurt, a 47-year-old puzzle eventually explained!      (The low number 41, the colours and the style of the plate would indicate that it was a Morris Minor of the Khan/Sultan’s fleet – or possibly of some high-ranking State official.)


Finally, one of the very few Pakistan plates seen in Britain since 1947 Partition – a VW Camper from Quetta in Baluchistan, sporting a PAK oval provided by the Karachi Automobile Association.     Seen in Kensington Church Street, London in 1964, by VB.

QA 6209, a Quetta plate in 1964 London.

More finally, I parked my Peugeot 404L  next to a pair of diplomatic VWs in Rawalpindi in 1968.     That same CD system is still in use in Pakistan, 44 years later!

I doubt if the airline offices are still intact, as such places have become targets for angry mobs fretting about cartoons and daft films.       It was a peaceful and pleasant country then, with the Moslem population kind and hospitable……

BELOW: When EU38 visited the newly-built British High Commission in Islamabad to collect my mail from the Poste Restante service they used to offer travellers, I was amazed to come across a car from Sarawak – the first I had ever seen!   And as used to be the convention, it showed the international oval SK, as supplied by the Kuching office of the AA.

How unusual to see a vehicle from Borneo in the ‘stans!

Sarawak K 9033 outside the BHC, Islamabad, 1968.   K=Kuching.



PR-9679  —  Seen in Karachi in 1965, this Jeep with United Nations connections, belonged to the Pakistan Forestry Project and was registered in Peshawar in the regular series.                                 Brumby archive 1965



ID 8146 ID was the newly-created  code for the 1960’s-built new capital city of Islamabad (PeaceTown),  when this photo was taken in the 1970s, on a Datsun 1200.      There were still very few  such fully-imported cars in neighbouring India, due to the shortage of foreign currency with which to buy such, yet Pakistan seems always to have imported  from anywhere without difficulty, even though it must have been even shorter of money.      Previously, British Ford 100E Anglias were built there from parts sent from Dagenham. and Morris Minors were assembled in India, alongside the eternal Morris Cowley a.k.a. the Hindustan Ambassador, Indian production of which 1955 design finalised in 2013!.      The Suzuki pick-up is from Peshawar – PRH 3032.    Soon such Japanese products displaced the British-built vehicles  which had held sway from 1900.                  Brumby archive 1970s (Capt. Pointon-Taylor)


KAW 6444  --  red-on-yellow Karachi Trade-plate on a new British Vauxhall Victor, there in 1965.     Brumby archive.

KAW 6444 – red-on-yellow Karachi Trade-plate on a new British Vauxhall Victor, there in 1965.                        Brumby archive.


(PAK1a)('47~)_KAE9800 Urdu_comp_VB_resize

KAE 9800 — It was unusual to see an Urdu-scripted plate in Pakistan in the 1960s. This oddity is seen in Lahore in 1965, on a Morris 1000, registered in Karachi.                            Brumby archive 1965