Asrar’s Note: Dear Pharma Veterans! I have created this space for ‘Pharma Veterans’; all of us, not just me. I am filling this space to begin with to keep it moving. You are most cordially invited to write your ideas/ experiences. Please send these to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Your contributions will be published promptly and without editing. Please join the Community and the movement.
Since I first visited Karachi in 1975, I loved the city. I did not think of shifting to Karachi but when the opportunity arose, I took it without hesitation. Sometime in August 1979, our worthy NSM SK Manzar thought it would be better for me to go to Karachi. Like other MNCs, Hoechst also had head office at Karachi, and everyone understood that if you aspired to grow, you would end up in Karachi. I was single and unencumbered and did not have any problem in relocating. And so, I went to Karachi, still working as medical representative. I was assigned a territory and was introduced by my colleagues. The AM in Karachi was Mahmood Ebrahim Mapara, a very considerate, gentle and refined person. Among colleagues, the most note-worthy was Cyclewala.
Hatim Ahmed Ali Cyclewala was notoriously famous in the office and in the field. He had a killer humor and brought smile to everyone he touched. I have seen very few people as sweet as HAAC. He was very hard working and was highly regarded by his customers and colleagues. He worked for many years and finally retired from Regulatory department. I haven’t had contact with him for several years, but I have many good memories with him and more good wishes for him.
We had another very cultured gentleman, S M Akbar who had been working in Quetta for a long time. He spoke slowly and deliberately and always exuded calmness. He loved and played cricket. I remember someone mentioning that he also played Quaid-e-Azam Cup tournament, which was first class cricket. It was before Kerry Packer and before One Day cricket came into being. I watched him in action during office tournament. SMA had style and technique. SMA was later transferred to Karachi as Institutional Sales Manager. I had the privilege of meeting him and his family many times. They were all wonderful people and I pray for Allah’s Blessing for them.
In the head office, we had some very nice people. S K Manzar was National Sales Manager. More about him later. Javed Tirmizi headed Distribution and his department was getting busier as Hoechst was building its own distribution network. And we had the stylish Talha Siddiqi, Sales Promotion Manager. TS had big moustaches that turned upward at the end. The seniors truly lived like seniors. They were kind and generous and teaching and training.
Karachi was still relatively peaceful. It was truly the city of lights. The nights stayed awake and people moved freely. Karachi is a melting pot of ethnicities, languages and cultures. People from all parts of Pakistan came to Karachi with dreams of better lives for them and their families. Karachi had the biggest opportunity and the highest compensation. The wages in Karachi are still higher than other parts of the country. Karachi is way more professional. The variety and quality of services that you get in Karachi are not matched in any other city. Lahore is my home town, I was born here, educated here and stayed most of life here. But for a long time, Lahore was only a big town; not a city. It is changing now but will take time.
In April 1979, General Zia, hanged the former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The country became silent. And the silence was so ominous that the General became worried. However, thanks to the ineptness of ZAB comrades, nothing much happened, and Zia went from strength to strength and was able to brutally crush the MRD (Movement for Restoration of Democracy) which was launched in early 80s.
Earlier, ZAB had forcefully made education of Sindhi language compulsory throughout Sindh. Karachi protested violently, and it had led to severe clashes leading to loss of property and lives. Karachi regained uneasy calm, but scars remained. Despite all this, Karachi was still free and peaceful.
I went to Karachi and worked for couple of months, and had to come back……