The year 1971-72 was very eventful for the economy of Pakistan in general and Pakistan Shipping in particular. The country experienced the worst possible crisis in the Eastern Wing, in 1971 when from March onward all commercial activity came virtually to a stand still and as a result, shipping could not continue its activities in the ports of Chittagong and Chalna. The crises culminated in to the full-fledged war resulting in a forcible separation of East Pakistan. NSC thus lost roughly two third of her traditional trade i.e. imports & exports from East Pakistan as well as inter-wing trade and was left only with the imports & exports of West Pakistan. Exports from West Pakistan too were adversely affected by the labour unrest. Due to these crisis, the World Bank and the Consortium of aid giving countries were reluctant to finance Pakistani projects and there was hardly any thing moving from USA, Canada and Europe except certain negotiated deals
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
The war between India and Pakistan adversely affected the Corporation’s operations. Although all its services continued to operate normally but vessels transiting home waters had to be specially re-routed for security reasons. As a result of rationalization of country’s import below normal because of the prevailing market uncertainties, port congestion, the seamen’s strike in the UK, the increased stevedoring, insurance, port dues and cargo handling costs, affected the Corporation’s revenues. In spite of these adverse factors the Corporation’s overall commercial operations showed adequate and satisfactory profits
Pakistan Steam Navigation Company Limited was established in
Chittagong, East Pakistan. This company was owned by Mr. Abdul Qasim
Khan a renowned personality and a big industrialist. He also owned Jute Mills,
Leather Factory, Match Factory, Insurance Company and Board Building
Industry in Chittagong.
Two old ships of British India Steamship (BI) were purchased by Pakistan Steam Navigation Company Ltd for plying between
Chittagong – Karachi.
This company progressed very well, but, unfortunately ill health of Mr. Abdul Qasim Khan did not allow him to run the affairs of company effectively. Other family members did not pay full attention in the affairs of company which led closure of company in late 60’s of last century.
In the year 1957-58 it was noted that
did not have any share of cargo in foreign liner trades of the country. No
shipping company had the resources or ships to take on this share. In theory
and according to International norm, the trade was to be divided in the ratio
of 40% for exporting country’s cargo, 32% for importing country’s cargo and
remaining for third countries.
Ship-owners therefore decided on a scheme to jointly form a company to take advantage of this norm and obtain
Pakistan Shipping Lines (PSL) which was the brainchild of Mr. Abdul Hameed Ismail and Mr. Eddie Dinshaw was established on 05 May, 1959. All nine ship owners were the directors in Pakistan Shipping Companies with share of Rs.10,000 each. The first office was located in the small premises of Pan Islamic Steamship at
Karachi. First ship to load from
Chalna, East Pakistan for Dundee with full
load of Jute under this conference line was SS Chittagong City.
Nine ships were required to meet the demand of the tonnage. In principal it was decided to demand
share from the two main shipping conferences – the Karmahom ( Karachi – Marmagoa – Home) and the Europe Bay
of Bengal Conference.
The routing of the ships was
Karachi – Chittagong /
Chalna – Europe ( UK
/ N. Continent) and back.
One ship each from the existing companies was in the hands of the Board of Directors appointed by the individual company. By mutual agreement Mr. Qasim Dada was appointed Chairman, Mr. Eddie Dinshaw the Managing Director and Mr. Muhammad Iqbal Qureshi was appointed as the Manager. On Mr. Dinshaw leaving the country in 1971 Mr. Cyrus Cowasjee took over his functions despite not having any official appointment.
The enterprise was run quite successfully carrying
full share of the trade and enjoying the full benefit of the conference pooling
system till 1963-64 when National Shipping Corporation (NSC) was formed. NSC
demanded a share in the business which had to be reluctantly given to them.
However the arrangement continued till nationalization in 1974 when NSC took
over the entire Pakistan
share and PSL ceased to exist.
Crescent Shipping Lines Limited (CSL) was a subsidiary of a Public Limited Company namely Crescent Textile Mills Ltd (CTML) that belonged to M/s. Muhammad Amin Muhammad Bashir Limited (MAMB). MAMB Group was the leading exporters of Cotton of the country and were called as “Cotton King”. During Ayub Khan era the sponsor’s family was one of the top 22 families of
During early 1959 Field Marshal Ayub Khan emphasized the need for a Passenger cum Cargo Ship to provide service between East and West Pakistan and advised Mian Muhammad Bashir to acquire a ship suitable for the requirement of Passenger and Cargo traffic between the two wings of
Accordingly, in early 1959 the MAMB Group established a Private Limited Company namely Crescent Shipping Lines (CSL) with a paid up Capital of Rs.4.4 million. Its major shares worth Rs.4 million were held by CTML, Rs.0.2 million by MAMB and Rs.0.2 million by 14 sponsors. Since the MAMB Group did not have the expertise in shipping, it appointed Mr. Gert Beaulau (a German National, an expert in shipping) as Manager and Mr. Zafar Ahmed, a Senior Chief Engineer, as consultant.
MAMB (the Managing Agents for CSL) awarded a contract to M/s. Hitachi Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Limited,
to build a Passenger cum
Cargo Vessel on May 01, 1959 for about Rs.20 million under foreign exchange
loan and credit from National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). Osaka, Japan
The ship was named as MV Shams and was delivered on December 17, 1960. The launching ceremony was graced by Field Marshal Ayub Khan at Sakuranjima Shipyard,
. Osaka, Japan
MV Shams started regular passenger cum cargo service from January 1960 between East and West Pakistan providing an average of 13 round voyages per year on
/ Chittagong / Karachi route. This service continued till
the fall of Dacca
i.e. till end of 1971. During the disturbances in East
Pakistan in 1971, MV Shams on her last voyage was stuck up at Chalna.
Fortunately she managed to sail out from there with more than 3500 passengers
on board in emergency, before the mines were laid in .
She arrived safely at Pussur River Karachi and disembarked
the passengers at . West
Keeping in view the difficulties of the people of Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara, Field Marshal Ayub Khan advised Mian Muhammad Bashir to acquire a small passenger cum cargo vessel to meet the requirement of the people of
during the last quarter of 1961 CSL had acquired a secondhand vessel MV Mombasa
from BI Steamship Company Ltd. for over Rs.2 million under foreign exchange
loan and credit from Industrial Development Bank of Makran
Coast Pakistan. The vessel was renamed as
MV Kareem started regular passenger cum cargo service from January, 1962 on
/ Karachi / Colombo
/ Bombay / Karachi
till August, 1965. After Indo Pakistan War in September, 1965, the vessel was
put on Karachi / Makran
Coast / Karachi
and Karachi / Persian Gulf / Karachi till 1966. The vessel was sold for
scrap in 1967.
During 1972 and 1973 MV Shams was carrying Pilgrims during Haj season and during off Haj season the vessel was employed as cargo ship on
Karachi / Far East / Karachi
Before the advent of steamships, sailing vessels owned by Indians catered for this traffic and the Muslim rulers had given adequate support to this business.
During Mogul times and until the 18th century, pilgrims from
had the option of traveling to Makkah either by overland caravan or by sailing
ships. The land route via the northwest of India was long, difficult and
hazardous and also involved crossing hostile territories. The Indian pilgrims
generally preferred to go by sea, primarily through the Red Sea, and
occasionally through the Persian Gulf.
However, rampant piracy and a strict Portuguese control over the Indian Ocean
in the 16th century made passage through the Red Sea
a dangerous trip. Most ships traveling from India
to the Red Sea were forced to carry a
Portuguese cartaz, or pass.
The earliest visit by Indians to Makkah for Haj is a matter of conjecture but it is very likely that such visits pre-date the Muslim conquests of Sindh in 664-712 AD.
(Because of the location of the
Port as the gateway to Makkah as well
as a leading port for Red Sea trade, it
attracted merchants and pilgrims alike in large numbers every year. The people
of Hejaz were fascinated by ’s
spices, pearls, precious stones, silk, sandalwood, oud and perfumes and looked
forward to the arrival of Indian ships.) India
India, Haj continued to get attention. In 1885, the British
government appointed the famous tourist agency Thomas Cook as the official
travel agent for the Haj pilgrimage. The British government affirmed that it
had special obligations to protect the stream of “Muhammadan pilgrims going to
the sacred places at Makkah and Karbala.”
In 1927, a 10-member Haj Committee was constituted, headed by the commissioner
of police, Bombay,
which was replaced by the Port Haj Committee in 1932.
The largest shipping line operating from Indian ports was the Mogul Line, which was founded in 1888 and managed by the British company Turner Morrison. The oldest of the Mogul Line ships was SS Alawi (built in 1924) followed by SS Rizwani (built in 1930). These ships were scrapped in 1958 and 1959 respectively. Other early Mogul Line ships were SS Saudi (capacity 999), SS Muhammadi and SS Muzaffari (capacity 1,460), SS Islami (capacity 1,200), MV Akbar (capacity 1,600), SS Noorjehan (capacity 1,756) and SS Nicobar (capacity 1,170).
In 1927, Mogul Line ships carried nearly 20,000 of the 36,000 Hajis arriving from
India. In the late 1930s, over 70
percent of pilgrim ships from India
were Mogul Line vessels.
Moghuls Line had the monopoly of the Haj pilgrim traffic. For about 6-7 months of the year, it carried pilgrims from India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Bangladesh and Burma to Jeddah, while rest of the year, the ships were deployed for carrying cargo cum passenger service from India to the Red Sea ports including Aden and Djibouti.
But soon the Haj committee and certain sections of the Muslim community approached the Scindia Steam Navigation Company for berthing its steamers to carry this traffic as some of the Bengali Muslims were dissatisfied with the services of the agents of Mogul Line for trying to induce the Indian Government to close the
port for pilgrim traffic. The Scindia Steam Navigation Company on the other
hand was also tempted to get into this lucrative market. They built two new
steamers at the cost of over Rs.50 lahks and started services in 1937.
The entry of the Indian Line into this traffic received tremendous support and the new steamer El Medina proved very popular! The Mogul Line soon started a rate war and fierce competition followed between the two companies in which the Scindia Steam Navigation Company incurred heavy losses as they were practically carrying pilgrims free. The Mogul Line too began to carry the pilgrims free of charge, providing them incentives like an umbrella and a container for carrying holy water. Several representations were made by leaders both outside and inside the Central Legislature to arrest this rate war. Finally Sir Muhamed Zafarullah Khan, the then commerce member intervened and brought about a settlement between the two companies by which they agreed to quote not less than Rs.115 as the return passage fare. Despite this agreement Mogul Line continued to charge low fares whenever the Scindia Steam Navigation Company’s steamer was on berth. Representations were made again in the Legislature which led to the fixation of uniform, stable and economic rates, but with the outbreak of World War II, pilgrim traffic closed down.
After the war Scindia Steam Navigation Company was unable to cope with the meager share of Haj traffic and soon withdrew. They strongly felt that the Indian Government had treated them unfairly by allotting a meager share of 25 percent of the traffic and 75 percent to Mogul Line. Thus another attempt by an Indian company to enter overseas trade was thwarted and abandoned. Meanwhile, Mogul Line acquired a new ship Islami in 1936 and two more modern ships Mohammadi in 1947 and Muzafari in 1948.
However, most shipping companies operating haj service throughout the world had secondhand ships and the condition of majority of the Pilgrim Ships were pathetic and deplorable. The overcrowding of Pilgrims onboard the ships was common as some greedy ship owners sought to make the most of the short but profitable season. There were only pilgrims on board, so many that the ship could hardly accommodate them. The shipping companies… had literally filled it to the brim without caring for the comfort of the passengers. On the decks, in the cabins, in all passageways, on every staircase, in the dining rooms of the first and second class, in the holds which had been emptied for the purpose and equipped with temporary ladders, in every available space and corner human beings were painfully herded together.
It is also worthmention that most of the pilgrims who traveled by sea were weak, fragile, old. Some of them died during voyage and were buried at sea with full merchant marine honour.
The Pakistan Government chartered passenger ships “Empire Orwell” and British India “Sardhana” and
Bombay based Mughal Lines vessels “Islami” and “Muhammadi”
in 1958 for the
– Jeddah run. The Sirdhana made some pilgrim voyages from both East & West
Pakistan Ports to Jeddah. After that the Pan Islamic Steamship Co. Ltd. and
later Crescent Shipping played a vital role in carrying the pilgrims from Pakistan Karachi and
to Jeddah. Chittagong
Some of the Pakistani passenger ships which carried pilgrims to Jeddah were as follows:
Pan Islamic Steamship Co. Ltd.
Pan Islamic Steamship Co. Ltd.
Pan Islamic Steamship Co. Ltd.
Pan Islamic Steamship Co. Ltd.
Pan Islamic Steamship Co. Ltd.
Crescent Shipping Lines Ltd. / PNSC
Their main operation was carrying the pilgrims but they also had some cargo capacity and were used as cargo cum passenger ships during off Haj season.
In early 1980’s the number of sailings started falling due to the competitiveness of air travel, with low cost flights, and sea borne trade started declining. Pakistani pilgrim ships became more and more older and required heavy repairs and maintenance. It was thus commercially not viable to run them anymore.
The last ship to perform Haj service was MV Shams (1994) (under PNSC) before it was scrapped. Thus the sea borne pilgrimage run effectively ended.
Visit to the sacred center of Islam, the Centre to which every Muslim turns his face in prayer, seems to many of the pilgrims like a visit to heaven. They seek God’s mercy, and in the hope of His acceptance, they seek to renew that covenant with Him and to be purged of their sins, casting off their past life as a man casts off an old suit of clothes, knowing that, in the words of the Prophet, he whose pilgrimage is accepted will return home “free from sin as on the day his mother bore him” The pilgrims find peace and the sense of purpose which they could find in no other place.
Mecca and Madina was always difficult in the
past. In the early days Muslims from all over the world traveled by Foot,
Horses, Donkeys, Camels and by Boats across the Red Sea.
During the long journey some died of sickness, some were caught by desert storms, and some were looted on the way by organized armed bandits. Those who survived the extremes of heat and cold, hunger and thirst or attacks by Bedouin Marauder often succumbed to the plague. Survivors performed the Haj and it would take years for them to return back home safely.
With the passage of time and advance in technology, new mode of transportation came into being. Travelling by land gradually became easier with roads being constructed and more and more road transport available. At sea, Boats were replaced with steamships which moved faster and carried greater number of passengers.
The opening of Suez Canal in 1869 brought regular Steamer traffic from Europe – North & West Africa through Red Sea to the
Port of Jeddah, some 55 miles from Mecca, thus reducing the passage time
significantly over the previous route round the cape of Good Hope. With steamer
traffic, it became commercially viable for shipping lines, throughout the world
to operate for Haj, not withstanding that this trade was relatively short
seasonal one and that these ships were generally put to other use during the
The Pan Islamic Steamship Company was established by the legend and visionary Mr. A. H. Ismail and Mr. A. D. Ahmed who were said to be employee of Muhammadi Steamship Co. owned by Kasim Dada and Valika
They resigned from company and embarked upon establishing a shipping company in
the private sector under the name and style of Pan Islamic Steamship Company
(PISC) in year 1950
The founders of PISC being ex-employees had financial restraints thus they tried to raise money by selling shares locally and almost in all Islamic countries so that funds are raised to buy first vessel. During the year 1954 PISC acquired two passenger vessels Safina-e-Murad which was yacht of Shah
Farooq of and
Four Mast SS Safina-e-Arab (1). Prior to acquiring these vessels passenger
services between East & West Pakistan was under control of British India
Navigation Company (BI) which was operating passenger ship “Aronda” between
Karachi and Chittagong. Due to progressive marketing and possessing two
passenger ships, PISC was able to force BI to stop their operation between East
& West Pakistan. The fares offered were much cheaper than BI thus PISC
established first passenger cum cargo link by sea between East & West
Pakistan and most of the troops and passengers were carried onboard these
vessels. Once the passenger service was established the management ventured to
replace Egypt Bombay based Mughal Lines, which was
catering for Pilgrims from Karachi and on their
vessels “Islami” and “Muhammadi”. In 1958 PISC acquired TSS Safina-e-Hujjaj an
ex-P&O with passenger capacity of over 2500, which could easily cater needs
of maritime transportation of Pilgrims to Chittagong . The company was
financially well established by then and its shares were selling around
Rs.400/- plus. Its shares were listed in capital market since its inception.
The Management decided to build a new passenger vessel Safina-e-Arab in 1960 at
Saudi Arabia and in 1961 vessel was placed
into passenger / pilgrim service. The company continued to acquire passenger
ships and the last ship acquired was MV Safina-e-Abid from China Steamship
Navigation Company, Hong Kong in 1970 while Safina-e-Arab (I). Safina-e-Murad
and other vessels were scrapped. The company had a fleet of cargo vessels also,
namely Safina-e-Tariq, Safina-e-Barkat, Safina-e-Jamhoriyat, Safina-e-Ismail,
Safina-e-Nusrat and Safina-e-Ahmar. At one time it was largest private company
having 10 vessels in their fleet. The passenger management and manning system
adopted by PISC was based on P&O management and this has been largely
beneficial to Pakistani mariners who made their big name such as Capt. M. J.
Sayeed who was the first Master of Safina-e-Arab (I) and thereafter he
established Neptune Orient Line of Singapore. Cadiz, Spain
The company was incorporated at
in April, 1950. Obtained certificate for commencement of business in October,
1950 and was admitted on the list of the Karachi Stock Exchange in October,
One of the principal objectives of setting-up the service was to carry pilgrims.
Unfortunately in 1974 when the company was at its peak and had 10 vessels, the company was nationalized along with other private companies and its flag ship Safina-e-Hujaj and other were scrapped during the course of nationalization. In 1980 the President of Pakistan on the plea of the Saudi share holders and the Chairman of the company, denationalized the company and the Management was taken over by the ex-owners of PISC. The owners did not loose heart and re-ventured by acquiring Safina-e-Barkat with the financial help of DMI Geneva. The company also acquired Safina-e-Ismail (II), a cargo vessel and continued their operation till 1997. After the sad demise of its owner Mr. A. D. Ahmad in 1993, the company could not be managed and it was closed in 1997 by scrapping its passenger and cargo vessels (Mr. Abdul Hameed Ismail had already left the company due to sharp differences with Mr. A. D. Ahmad). It was very serious setback to Pakistani Seafarers as the passenger vessels were employing maximum seafarers onboard to cater for needs of Pilgrims between
Pakistan and . Unfortunately the
closure of the company in private sector discouraged new entrepreneurs. Saudi Arabia
The PISC made its mark on the maritime map of
and it shall always be
known as pioneer being: Pakistan
i) The first Pakistani public sector company to commence passenger cum cargo service between the erstwhile East & West Pakistan in 1950’s.
ii) The first Pakistani company to carry pilgrims from East & West Pakistan to
iii) The first Pakistani company to operate passenger service
Karachi / Bombay
and East Africa route in 1962.
iv) The first Pakistani company to start cargo service between East & West Pakistan to
in 1958. United States
v) The first Pakistani company to start regular passenger service between
and Gulf ports in 1972. Karachi
Before independence the Baksh family of Chiniot were traders of Cotton and Leather. Their main office was in
Calcutta from where they exported these commodities mostly
to . Far East
After independence they settled in
Karachi and were the main cotton exporters
specially to China.
All was going well until the Korean War broke-out (around 1950), when they
could not find ships for their cargo, as most of the shipping lines refused to
enter the Chinese waters due to Korean War.
Mr. Maula Baksh a young and dynamic man of Baksh family went to
and Hong Kong to find mean and ways of exporting cargo to China. In Hong Kong he met several people and managed to find a
ship that could be chartered. In the process he also thought of buying old
ships for his business, and was able to find two ships, naming them Anwar Baksh
and Kadir Baksh.
Back home his father Mian Kader Baksh was monitoring these developments with great interest. When Mr. Maula Baksh returned to
he along with his three brothers Mr. S. M. Anwar Baksh, Mr. S. M. Iqbal Baksh
and Mr. S. Maqbool Baksh under the guidance of their father laid the foundation
of United Oriental Steamship Co. (commonly known as Baksh Line).
In addition they purchased a marine workshop by the name of Carstairs & Communings Ltd located at the
West Wharf, Karachi, from where hundreds of Engineers apprentices were
trained to join the Pakistan
merchant fleet. A total of 12 ships were registered in MMD Karachi in the
ownership of United Oriental Steamship Company from 1949 to 1971.
The following is a precise list of cargo trades undertaken by them:
1. About 300,000 tons of coal cargo from
to East Pakistan in 1968.
2. Regular general cargo liner service both scheduled and unscheduled between
Karachi and East Pakistan on own and chartered vessels.
3. Liner service between
/ Chittagong / East Africa
/ W. C. India with general cargo, Raw Jute, Jute goods and cashew nuts in
competition with the established company Bankline of UK.
4. Carriage of their own full loads of Pak raw cotton bales from
Karachi to China as other foreign shipping lines had
boycotted to carry cargo from Karachi to China thus jeopardizing export of cotton to China.
5. Bakshline bought and operated coal burning steamship Kader Baksh 5,000 DWT built 1919 and Moula Baksh 7,500 DWT built 1915. Subsequently Kader Baksh and Moula Baksh were converted to oil burning at Hong Kong and
6. One of the ship namely SS Ilyas Baksh was captured by
in 1965 war. Another vessel Anis Baksh was destroyed by enemy operations in1971
in Chittagong and yet another vessel Anwar Baksh
was captured by Indian Navy in Bay of Bengal.
The rest of four ships (Maqbool Baksh, Kader Baksh, Maula Baksh & Iqbal
Baksh) were taken over by the Government in 1974 under nationalization policy.
7. Pakistan Shipping Lines was formed jointly by all
around 1960 to operate a regular liner service between UK North Continent and Pakistan.
Baksh Line nominated their vessels continuously to fulfill the tonnage
requirement to this International liner trade.
At the time of partition there were very few industrialists and one of them was Mr. Eduljee Dinshaw. He had business interest in all major English companies like Ralli Brothers, Forbs Campbell, Greece Cotton etc. In 1959, Mr. Eduljee Dinshaw established a company in
East Pakistan by the name of Chittagong
Steamship Company in which famous parsi family of Mr. Jamshed Marker was also a
shareholder. Initially this company was given premises for office in East Pakistan by Mr. Abdul Ahad a Bengali Muslim
businessman. He was also Director of this shipping company. Later Mr. Dinshaw bought
at Ralli Brother Building Wood Street, Karachi for Chittagong Steamship Company.
This Public Sector Company was also sponsored by the families of Mr. Minocher Dinshaw, Mr. Godrej Kandawala and Mr. Jamshed Marker. As there was not much response from the public in East and
West Pakistan the remaining shares were
taken over by Trans Oceanic Steamship Company.
Though the Company was registered in
Chittagong with Head office there and Karachi regional office at Ralli
the Management of the Company was entirely in the hands of Mr. Eddie Dinshaw
who carried out day to day business from his office at 260 R. A. Lines, Karachi.
The first vessel purchased by the Company and registered in 1959 in
Chittagong, was “ss ”.
Subsequently, the company purchased another cargo vessel and registered it as
“ss Chittagong City Dacca City”
Both these vessels started plying between Karachi
/ Chittagong /
Chalna. Later these vessels were subsequently scrapped in 1972.
In 1970 an order was placed in Sunderland to build a cargo vessel for the Company which was delivered in January, 1972 and registered on 23rd January, 1972 at Karachi as “MV Ocean Envoy”. This brand new vessel was taken over by the Government at the time of nationalization in 1974 and handed over to PSC, later after merger of PSC & NSC in 1979, it became a part of PNS fleet.
The Company was established in 1949 at
with head office at 260 R. A. Lines, by the families of Mr. Minocher Dinshaw
and Mr. Godrej Kandawalla. Mr. Eddie Minocher Dinshaw was the Managing Director
from its inception. The company commenced operation by plying their ships
between Karachi / Chittagong / Chalna.
The first vessel Binfiled was purchased but was sold very shortly without registering. Then a coal fired steamship was purchased which was named “Ocean Endeavour I” which after plying for some years was sold subsequently in sixties.
In mid fifties there was shortage of coal and the company arranged to charter several vessels on behalf of the Government of Pakistan to transport coal for
/ Chittagong from China.
After 1971 the company continued to ply their vessels abroad by chartering to foreign companies. At the time of nationalization the company had the following vessels.
Ø Ocean Energy … Built 1953
Ø Ocean Endurance … Built 1966
Ø Ocean Endeavour … Built 1965
The company also owned
, Old Ralli Building Talpur Road, Off I.I.
Chundrigar Road., Karachi which was
also taken over
by the Government after nationalization of shipping in 1974. This building
has covered area of 9,856 square meters.
Importance of the
as one of the World’s strategic
gateway, can be borne by the historical facts as we go back to the times of the
invasion / exodus of Alexander The Great. Port of Karachi
The geo political situation in the sub continent and the
also population migration in the 30s and 40s drove many entrepreneurs of those
times to cross the distance barriers. The southern ports of Cutch and Gujrat
were vital links of the Karachi Port and Seth Hosainbhai Aboolally, the Head of
Bandukwala Family who were
established in the city since 1885, built with local expertise cargo cum
passenger ship SS Haydri at BABA Island ( Karachi).
This vessel actively traded on the West Coast India route till 1944. After a
short gap Karachi Steam Navigation Company Ltd. (KSNCL) was registered in Karachi with their first
vessel “Pakistan Progress” which had the honour to fly Pakistan Flag for the
first time in far away ports. This was followed by delivery in UK of “Pakistan Prosperity” in 1950 at the hands
of Wife of High Commissioner Begum Rehmatullah in the presence of Lord Mayor of
Pakistan Promoter, Pakistan Progress, Pakistan
Protector joined the fleet to establish and consolidate the vital sea trade
between Karachi and then East Pakistan ports of Chittagong, Chalna. KSNCL
also successfully competed the then dominance of British India (BI) fleet both
on the coastal and the Persian Gulf routes.
KSNCL also provided a much needed link with Gwadar
Port for export of dry fish to Colombo.
The Millwala family in pre-partition
had a well established Iron and Steel business and were ship breakers with
offices in Bombay and . At the end of World War II, the
family purchased a fleet of vessels from the British Government for scrapping.
One of the vessel was tanker named Olwen which was sea worthy but in need of
certain major repairs. The family on the advise of its friends connected with
maritime business, decided to repair the vessel and invested large sums to
restore the vessel to trade and named it SS Mushtari but then soon came
partition and the family elders decided to transfer this vessel to Pak Flag. Cochin
The said vessel, steamship tanker, was immediately given on time charter to Caltex Oil. Thus with the change of vessel flag to Pak Flag, SS Mushtari under Gulf Steamship Ltd became the first tanker to be operated under Pak Flag earning valuable foreign exchange for the country.
This began historical start of “The Gulf Steamship Company Ltd.” in the
The company was headed by Mr. port of Karachi Fakhruddin
M. Millwala and his younger brother Ibrahim M. Millwala. They migrated from Bombay at the time of partition to settle in the port city
of Karachi and
established their offices.
The trade between East & West Pakistan was flourishing and shipping services were the key link. With growing experience in shipping the family soon invested in acquisition of a cargo ship and gradually built up a strong fleet. There was no looking back and at one point of time the private family company, owned and operated 10 ocean going vessels under their Gulf Steamship Ltd and East Bengal Steamship Ltd, which was their second shipping company incorporated in the former East Pakistan.
With Buoyant trade and commerce activities, the growing challenges of those times necessitated the family to make their shipping business into a publicly listed company. In pursuance of their objective the Millwala family floated a new company namely “The Gulf Shipping Company Ltd” and listed it on the Karachi Stock Exchange at the beginning of 1970. The public company then acquired the assets of Gulf Steamship Ltd.
However, political troubles in East & West Pakistan led to war with
India in December, 1971. The Gulf
Shipping lost two of its ships in the said war. One, MV Mustali sunk while
anchored in Chalna by bombardment while its prized vessel in the fleet and of
most recent 1961 built at that time, namely MV Baqir, was taken over and
claimed as war booty by the Indian Navy.
The Gulf Shipping Company Ltd. was thus after the 1971 war, left with only one vessel namely MV Mansoor of about 15,000 DWT. The Management competence and sagacity saw it overcoming all odds and with one vessel the company became once again profitable having managed to pay its liabilities to creditors etc. for the losses suffered in
East Pakistan. However, the new Government nationalized
the shipping industry in 1974 and merged all the nationalized shipping
companies into new single entity company named as Pakistan Shipping
Late in the year 1946, the Partners of Cowasjee & Sons, who had till then, prior to World War II, considerable experience in chartering ships for their coal and salt business decided to enter into ship-owning. Led by Rustom and Noshirwan Cowasjee, they purchased a World War I built ship “Seringa”, took delivery of her on 27th January, 1947, and renamed her “Firoza”. As
Karachi was not then a port of registry she was registered
As interesting interlude, pre war Lloyds Register of Ships record shows Mr. Minocher Cowasjee as the owner of the Bucket Dredger “Edward Jackson”. This dredger was sold for scrap by Karachi Port Trust. She was repaired and re-commissioned by Mr. Minocher and his colleague Mr. Hashim Ghanci a famous scrap merchant and chartered to the Gaekwar of Baroda who was then setting up Port Okha and she became the nucleus of the development of that Port.
The first partnership named East & West Steamship Co., consisting of nine members of the Cowasjee
Family was formed and registered at Karachi on 6th
(Cowasjee family originally belonged to “Variaw” – a port near
The family moved to Surat Karachi in 1860 – at that time
was upto Native Jetty) Karachi Port
Meanwhile these same owners purchased thirteen minesweepers from the Royal Indian Navy of LOA 153 feet and about 450 GRT. The purpose was to convert them into small coastal ships to trade on the west coast of
upto Colombo and to the Persian
Gulf ports. Four of these ships were converted to cargo carriers
at the Cowasjee owned shipyard of British India Engineering Works at Karachi. The first to be
named “ Fatima”, after the first lady
of Pakistan, became first merchant
ship to be registered in the newly established Port
of Registry at Karachi on 11th August, 1948.
Further conversions were abandoned as the coastal trade had died down
The next to join the fleet was
Fakira. Later more ships were acquired and the
Pakistan Merchant fleet took shape and became a reality.
At the time of partition the
port of Chittagong,
the only port in East Pakistan was very small
and underdeveloped. Drafts at the were very low
ranging between 22 and 24 feet at high tides. Ships had to wait upto 60 / 70
days to obtain berth at one of the only four suitable berths available. Ships
had to register at the port for berthing, waited several days, and often ran
out of bunkers and fresh water thus had to proceed to the nearest bunkering Karnaphuli
River to replenish. Incidents
were known when this was done twice during a ships single call. Added to this,
ships had to unload part of their cargo into barges to achieve the smaller
draft for entering the port of Vishakapatnam Karnaphuli River where
was located. port of Chittagong
Mostly the ships carried rice and general cargoes from
Karachi to Chittagong
and return via Calcutta or Vishakapatnam with
coal cargoes and jute for Karachi.
A round voyage took anything upto 100 days. This continued till 1956 when India stopped coal shipments to Pakistan.
With the increase of the fleet year by year and development of
Port and tea and paper industries all
over East Pakistan the inter coastal trade
flourished. However shortage of shipping space continued to be felt till late
50s, putting “premium” on freight rates.
Another venture of the East & West Steamship Co. was in the field of Salvage. Until 1952 this side of shipping remained the sole and close preserve of German, Dutch and Danish Companies. East & West broke this stranglehold to become the first company in
South Asia to enter this field to the great
displeasure of the north Europeans. In 1952 they took from the British
Admirality a Salvage Vessel on a five year bareboat charter. Manned by German
officers and Pakistani crew under the personal supervision of Partners of East
& West, many stranded and distressed ships were salvaged by them.
The most famous case was that of the Norwegian Ship “Telodo” which ran aground whilst outward bound from
Karachi in June 1952, and
found herself stranded due to very rough weather and swell. On Clifton beach, she became
a sightseers target every evening when cars could drive around her at low tide.
After strenuous combined efforts of East & West’s “Salvigil” and small
coasters combined with the barge fleet of Cowasjee & Sons she was
eventually re-floated. Her entire valuable cargo of 5,000 tons was safely
landed and transported by road via Clifton
to Keamari. For this enterprise Lloyd’s Underwriters awarded to the Cowasjee
the highest recorded salvage which remained in the Guinness Book of Records for
over 14 years.
Pakistan’s North Western Railway
and East Bengal Railway were entirely dependent on coal for their engines. This
coal was supplied by India
over its land borders and partly be sea. India suddenly decided to curtail
its supply leaving Pakistan Railways and Government in quandary. Large stocks
of coal were urgently required. International Coal markets were not prepared to
supply the quantities required.
The ministry of Industries under whom the Coal Commissioner operated called upon Mr. Rustom Cowasjee to use his thirty year connections with British Owners of coal mines in
South Africa. Mr. Cowasjee together
with Mr. Dinshaw who were the largest bunker coal suppliers in Pakistan
managed with their old connections to induce the mine owners for supply an
emergency supply of 750,000 tons.
Timely transport was the next hurdle and Government unilaterally decided East & West to be the sole ship-owner capable of arranging such quantities in the short time required and placed an order for 400,000 and 350,000 tons each to
respectively to be transported in chartered ships. This was done within a
period of six / seven months most successfully at a fixed rate per ton to
government. During the period 1947-1974 East & West had owned 18 ocean
As the shortage of shipping between the two wings continued due to the inordinate delays at East Pakistani Ports, the company formulated a new concept of a scheduled cargo cum passenger service and for this purpose purchased in 1961 a German passenger cum cargo ship to be named “Rustom”. Heavy opposition to this concept was raised by other ship-owners resulting “Rustom” not being allowed to operate according to this concept, despite prior approval having been granted by Government. With the great perseverance of Mr. Ardeshir Cowasjee for almost one year, government eventually agreed to allow the 26 day round voyage concept. This service was started in 1962 and followed by other ship-owners who had then strenuously opposed same. The “Rustom” continued to be the most favored ship in the inter-wing traffic till joined by the purpose built “Ohrmazd” in 1968. Later ship remained the pride of East & West Steamship Company fleet till nationalization of Private Shipping by Government in 1974.
After the separation of the two wings of
and “Ohrmazd” traded successfully between Karachi
and Northern Europe, the latter achieving the
highest daily rate of charter at that time for a ship of that size.
True history must record all facts available. During their ownership East & West lost two ships at sea.
The first was “
Fakira” in February, 1956 in the .
The redeeming factor was that all crew managed to take safely to the lifeboats
and were rescued by a merchant ship which landed them at the China Seas .
The Owners chartered KLM Super Constellation to bring them to port of Saigon Karachi as “destitute seamen with no baggage”.
They were surprised by a demand from the airline, it turned out that the crew
had managed to salvage much more than their personal belongings including the
ships crockery cutlery and linen before abandoning ship. The sole exception was
the second mate Mr. Abdul Jabbar Randev who was the last to leave the ship with
only her compass and log books in true maritime tradition. Pakistan Government
honored Mr. Randev for his bravery under distress. After retiring from sea life
Capt. Jabbar served meritoriously as Principal Officer Mercantile Marine
Department for many years.
The other loss was that of the “Minocher Cowasjee” in 1957. Whilst on a voyage from Tientsin in North China to
Antwerp via the Cape of Good Hope, off the coast
the ship suddenly stopped sending her noon report to the owners who promptly
alerted the agencies in the vicinity. With the assistance of underwriters an
air sea search / rescue operation was organized for over ten days without
success and the ship was declared lost with all hands on board.
The erstwhile owners also took pride in their standard of maintenance of their ships. They mention two episodes demonstrating this. The first, in 1965 after the Indo-Pak war, the Government was badly in need of coal to be imported from
China and against the protest of the owners,
ordered the “ Fakirjee Cowasjee” then
40 years old to proceed in ballast to North China
in full cyclone season. A foolhardy direction by marine standards. The ship
encountered heaviest gales in the China seas to the extent that the
Master reported moving backwards for three days in his noon reports. She
eventually made it to Tientsin to the great
relief of the government officer who gave the order, and the owners who cared
for their crew.
In July, 1966 the same ship, then 41 years old, whilst on voyage from
Karachi to Chittagong in the Bay of Bengal
in heavy monsoon received a distress call from a sinking Greek Ship. Being the
nearest ship in the vicinity the Master gave full speed ahead to his Chief Engineer
who responded by reaching a speed of 15 knots with the whole ship shuddering.
They succeeded to rescue several seamen.
A year later owners sought government permission to scrap this ship which was promptly refused owing to the past record. The Director General, a Commodore from Pakistan Navy was eventually persuaded to grant the request when his attention was drawn to the fact that the ship was two years older than him.
The National Line.
To cater the growing need for promoting coastal trade between the two wings of the country, on which no Pak-flag ships plied, the establishment of the Muhammadi Steamship Company Limited was conceived. The company was incorporated on May 12, 1947, a quarter ahead of the country ‘s becoming a sovereign
of the Sub-continent. Muslim State
In August, 1947, Mr. Muhammad Ali Habib, Mr. Rustom Cowasjee and Mr. Kasim Dada went to
London to fetch ships for newly established
shipping company. Muhammadi Steamship Company Ltd.
Apart from looking ships, they started looking for Muslim shipping men from
India and recruited Mr. M. Abdul
Hameed Esmail, Haj Manager of Scindia Steamship Co. as General Manager and Mr.
A. D. Ahmed from the same company as Assistant Manager. K. R. S. Captain who
had marine experience as a Master Mariner and Pilot of Bombay Port was
appointed Marine Superintendent for Muhammadi Shipping.
Muhammadi purchased their first ship “Al-Ahmedi” and got it registered in Mercantile Marine Department (MMD)
Karachi in 1948.
Mr. Muhammad Ali Habib along with Mr. Kasim Dada were major share holders of the company till 1959-1960. However, after their departure from the scene, company went into deep financial crisis.
Valibhai who was one of the sponsoring Director intervened into the affairs of
the company and became Managing Director / Chairman by buying the controlling
shares of Company. He immediately took drastic steps to revive the company and
started replacing old vessels with secondhand modern cargo vessels of lesser
age. In 1967 he also placed an order for the first ocean going vessel to be
built by Pakistan
to Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works Ltd.
The new ship was named “Al-Abbas” popularly known as “Pride of Pakistan” or “Jewel of Muhammadi”. After being fully in operation she was plying between
route on liner basis. Her commercial performance was excellent. Unfortunately
during 1971 war, the ship was badly damaged by Indian Air Force bombardment at Chittagong and was later
declared as total loss. Another order was placed with Russian Shipyard for a
new vessel “Al-Abiden”.
During the chairmanship of Mr.
Fakhruddin Valibhai, the company’s performance
increased by leaps and bounds. Apart from running a shipping company, the owner
also established a workshop by the name of Muhammadi Workshop at Keamari to
cater for repair of not only Pakistani ships but also foreign flagged vessels.
Apprentices were also recruited as future Marine Engineers. Famous Muhammadi House on
also belonged to Muhammadi Steamship Co. Ltd. Chundrigarh Road I. I.
Muhammadi Steamship Company Limited happened to be one of the first few quoted companies, by getting enlisted on the Karachi Stock Exchange in 1949. The record of dividend disbursement by the company specially from 1964 to 1970 was noteworthy.
Other features were as follows:
Ø Al-Sayyada of Muhammadi Steamship Company was the first ship to be dry docked at Karachi Shipyard.
Ø Al-Abbas was the first merchant ship built in Karachi Shipyard. The President of Pakistan Field Marshal Ayub Khan, was the Chief Guest at the launching ceremony of “Al-Abbas” at Karachi Shipyard.
Ø Muhammadi Steamship Company was the first shipping line to be listed at Karachi Stock Exchange in 1949.
Ø However, when shipping was nationalized in 1974, Muhammadi Steamship Company, Muhammadi House and Muhammadi Workshop became part of Pakistan Shipping Corporation (PSC) and later of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation.
In 1974 the Federal Government decided to take over the management and control of entire shipping in
including NSC through promulgation of the Pakistan Maritime Shipping
(Regulation & Control) Ordinance, 1974 which later on became an Act. Under
this Act, ten shipping companies were taken over by the Government and two
Boards of Management were setup to manage the affairs of NSC and nine taken
over private shipping companies respectively (which were merged together and
named as Pakistan Shipping Corporation (PSC). Pakistan
Mr. Rustom F. Cowasjee, a former shipping tycoon, was nominated Chairman of the Pakistan Shipping Corporation, and Mr. Mohsin Ali Shaherwala, a former Director of the Pakistan Shipping Lines, was made the PSC Managing Director.
Mr. G. Ahmad, a retired civil servant was named the NSC Chairman and Mr. A. D. Ahmad, Managing Director of the Pan Islamic Steamship Company was appointed the new NSC Managing Director.
This arrangement also did not prove satisfactory, as the two Corporations tendered to undercut each other rather to compete with other International operators.
1971 War and subsequent emergence of
a profound impact on the Pakistani Shipping sector. Seven ships were captured or destroyed in Bangladesh East Pakistan and another four were seized at sea by the
Indians. This meant a loss of about 13 to 15 million dollars (71-72 prices) for
replacing the tonnage, besides deprivation of so many earning units just when
the nation needed all the foreign exchange. There were some vessels which had
to be retired. The shipping industry in general suffered other losses too,
apart from loosing the earning units. There were heavy payments due to war risk
insurance premium. Worst still, Pakistani trade had got dislocated with the
result that most of the ships became idle for a period before rehabilitation of
the trade could take place. The entire shipping was in doldrums.
Role of Merchant Navy:
Merchant Navy plays a vital role in the economic and Industrial development of a country. History has shown that all the leading maritime nations of today had given great importance to the building up of an efficient fleet of merchant ships in the earlier stages of their progress. In fact it will not be incorrect to say that these very nations owe much of their importance, progress and prosperity to this basic form of sea transport.
Pakistan is situated at the north
eastern corner of Arabian Sea with a vast
coast line of about 1100 kilometers. No country with such a long coast line can
underestimate the significance of shipping as an important economic activity.
Thus a strong and active merchant marine is essential for our country, not only for commercial reasons also for national defense.
On independence in 1947,
inherited one deep sea port of Karachi in West Pakistan and a River Port of
Chittagong in East Pakistan which was very
small and undeveloped. Draft at the river port was very low ranging between 22
- 24 feet at high tide. Also there were 3 ships: one of 7000 tons, the second
of 1800 tons and the third an oil tanker of about 16000 tons which belonged to
Millwala family as they brought this tanker from . The smaller one (1800 tons)
was handy and served as a carrier of defense cargoes mainly explosives. The
tanker was of no immediate use and she remained on charter with oil companies.
The bigger vessel was used as a grain carrier. The first demands on shipping
was for heavy movement of food grains, salt and defense cargoes. The two cargo
ships were quite inadequate and the country leaned heavily on ships of foreign
companies which had been operating in this region. India
Incidentally just before partition, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah asked Mr. Rustom Cowasjee to assist in the formation of a shipping company. He foresaw the necessity of merchant fleet particularly in view of the great distances separating the two wings.
Mr. Cowasjee, the only shipping man in the new
required both financial and trade backing for the venture. Mr. Jinnah,
therefore introduced him to Mr. Muhammad Ali Habib, the owner of first Muslim
Bank in Pakistan .
Between them they gathered the nucleus of Muslim merchants prominent in trade,
both in Western India & Bengal. India
The Bantwa Memon community was the largest group of Muslim Traders in undivided
They controlled the grain and other trades from their small towns in India Kathiawar. They were also known to Mr. Cowasjee who
operated a Stevedoring and Ship-handling company in thirties in five ports of Kathiawar.
The commercial strength of these merchants could be judged by the fact that Sir William Currie, the then Managing Director of British India Steam Navigation Co, the tycoon of British Shipping, used to personally visit them every year in the small towns braving the heat and dusty roads.
Mr. Habib coordinated with these merchants to join in forming Muhammadi Steamship Co. Ltd. Prominent amongst them were:-
Ø Mr. Mirza Muhammad Ispahani of M. M. Ispahani –
Ø Mr. Valli Muhammad Dada of Hussein Kassim Dada later Dada Ltd
Ø Mr. Abdul Rehman Abdul Gani later ARAG Ltd
In August 1947 Mr. Muhammad Ali Habib, Mr. Rustom Cowasjee, and Mr. Kassim Dada went to
the hub of world shipping, to buy ships. As it was not possible to buy and
operate ships overnight, they decided to initially time-charter three ships
jointly for a period of one year extendable by another six months. Muhammadi
Steamship Co. was yet an unknown entity in the shipping World and ship-owners
were reluctant to enter into charter with them. However two ships 'Strymon' and
'Vest' were chartered in the name of East & West Steamship Co and at the behest
of London Brokers of the Cowasjee family a third ship " London "
was chartered in the name of Muhammadi. Mount Kyllene
On the return of the these promoters,
was found to be in post partition
turmoil. No office accommodation was readily available and the operations began
from a small office of Habib Sons in Karachi Laxmi
Building, Bolton Market, . Karachi
However dependence on foreign chartered ships could not be reduced immediately. In 1947 alone foreign chartered ships performed 20 voyages.
Seeing heavy drain of foreign exchange and to create public interest in shipping business the Government declared the ports of
& Chittagong as
for ocean going ships. The Control of shipping Act was invoked to restrict the
freedom of foreign shipping operating on the coast and to foster port of Registry
under this umbrella. Food grains of course were moving in large quantities but
this could have been just a temporary phase. The pattern of future trade was
not at all clear. In order to make investors shipping minded, without much risk
to their capital, Government decided to throw the doors open, practically, to
buy anything that would float for the next four years or so. The idea was to
save the immediate drain on foreign exchange and at the same time to let investors
gain experience of shipping at little cost to themselves. Ships were cheap in
those days, and would have paid for themselves in four year's time. Thereafter,
standards could be set, and the old ones replaced by later and better ships. It
was in this confusion that the Merchant Navy had to develop. Pakistan
In August, 1948 the first ship to be registered was "
(named after Mohtarma Fatima Fatima Jinnah)
GRT 671. It belonged to Cowasjee Family.
It was followed by AI-Ahmadi of GRT 5185 belonging to Muhammadi Steamship
Company Ltd. From 1947 to 1951, there was a little tonnage under the Pakistan
Flag and the inter-wing trade was significantly run by foreign shipping lines.
The capital for investment was short and the managerial capability shorter still, yet entrepreneurs came forward gradually to built up a merchant fleet, albeit an old one.
In this connection, however, it may be remembered that immediately after the termination of the Second World War, ships of recent built were just not available or if a few were available, the prices demanded were phenomenally high. There were also a great many restrictions on sale and transfer of flags of recent built ships in a large number of countries. Under those circumstances,
had no alternative but to purchase vessels that were comparatively old. Indeed
many countries in the world in the past made a beginning in shipping with old
ships. Each and everyone of these vessels, however, were purchased with the
blessings and full approval of Pakistani Govt. Pakistan
Within a decade, the fleet size rose to 21 in 1957 with total Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT) 168932. By 1960
had a fleet of 41 ships
with total DWT 353945, with all shipping in private sector. Most of the ships
of private sector were very old and did not ply on international routes because
they were not allowed under Control of Shipping Act. Hence they concentrated on
their operation on the lucrative trade between the two wings of the country. Pakistan
As far as recruitment of crew was concerned it was no problem. Traditionally this area has been providing seafarers to international shipping for some 150 years when ships under its own flag were non-existent. The Pathans from Swat (NWFP) (as engine crew), the Bengali's from East Pakistan, Kutchie's, Kokani's and Balochs from Karachi (as deck ratings) have been going to sea in British, German and other ships since long.
However, there was a dearth of senior officer specially Masters, Chief Engineers & 2nd Engineers. On most of the ships they were of European countries such as
Norway, Poland and even from . However, by mid sixties
they were all replaced by Pakistanis. Turkey
The worth-mentioning Pakistani companies which entered in the shipping arena at that time were:
Ø Muhammadi Steamship Co.
Ø East & West Steamship Co.
Ø The Gulf Steamship Ltd.
Ø Karachi Steam Navigation Co Ltd.
Ø Trans Oceanic Steamship Co Ltd.
Ø United Oriental Steamship Co.
Ø Pan Islamic Steamship Co.
In 1963 the Government decided to establish National Shipping Corporation (NSC) with a view to provide safe and efficient shipping service in both international and inter provincial routes.
Within a period of about eight years, its fleet expanded to 32 ships in 1971. By then the private shipping companies had a total of 25 ships belonging to various companies which were mostly very old.