This one hell of a lovely woman was in Karachi one day. The stunning non-imperial princess, a darling of American commoner, won as many hearts during her brief visit to Karachi as she did elsewhere in the world. Omar Kureishi introduced her perfectly to Karachites in his write-up for DAWN, “Jacqueline Kennedy was America’s sweetheart, not in a Betty Gable-Rita Hayworth pin-up sort of way, but like a Helen of Troy, a face that launched a thousand ships. She was the princess of hearts”.
Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy, then The First Lady of America, visited Pakistan from 17th March, 1962 to 25th in response to an invitation from President Mohammad Ayub Khan. She visited Lahore, Taxila, Peshawar, Rawalpindi in detail while spent few hours in Karachi before flying to London.
Mrs. Kennedy arrived in Karachi from Peshawar. There was a fierce sand storm blowing in Karachi that day. However It did not deter thousands of Karachi wallas from lining up on the route and welcoming the first lady. Riding in an open car, Mrs. Kennedy had to cling to her pink beret like cap to keep it from sailing. She attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Jinnah’s tomb which was affected by the storm as one of the awnings sailed off in the wind.
Afterwards she went to presedential house where she met much celebrated Bashir sarban, a friend which Vice President Johnson made during his visit to Asia. Bashir was accompanied by his veiled wife and three children. Mrs. Kennedy was invited for a camel ride by Bashir. Her sister accompanied her on the ride. Few Pakistani officials stayed left and right of the camel, ready to catch should any of them fell off the camel.
“It makes an elephant feel like a jet plane”, said American first lady afterwards, referring to her elephant ride in India a week before. Bashir sarban gave her a camel saddle and traditional Pakistani clothes as gifts while Mrs. Kennedy gave him an autographed photo and a white scarf for his wife. She also visited a hospital before flying to London.
A lot has changed since. Mrs. Kennedy’s fairy tale came to an abrupt end. Karachi is not safe any more for a first lady. But trust that truth and sanity shall prevail in the end. Inshallah. God willing.
Say a prayer for her please, in reverence of the sweet memories.