Wednesday, 8 May 2013

United Oriental Steamship Company

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 China 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 Karachi 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 Chinwintao, China 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 Karachi / 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 Karachi respectively.

6.                  One  of  the  ship namely SS Ilyas Baksh was captured by India 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 Pakistan Ship-owners 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.


  1. Informative article. Thanks. I sailed on Ilyasbaksh, Anwarbkash, Anisbaksh and Kaderbaksh as Radio Officer...If any of ex baksh marinear can email me at

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  4. My Great Uncle Harold Meik was Captain of the Maula Baksh, he died on board in 1961 when the ship was pulling into port at Dacca (now Dhaka), he was buried at sea as per his final wishes.