Women and Pakistan International Airlines in Ayub Khan's Pakistan




Journal Title

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Taylor and Francis



Peer reviewed



This article weaves together several unique circumstances that inadvertently created spaces for women to emerge away from the traditional roles of womanhood ascribed to them in Pakistan. It begins by tracing the emergence of the Pakistan International Airlines as a national carrier that provided an essential glue to the two wings of Pakistan. Operating in the backdrop of nascent nationhood, the airline opens an opportunity for the new working women in Pakistan. Based on first-hand accounts provided by former female employees, and supplementing it with official documents, newspaper reports and the advertising used for marketing at the time, it seeks to provide an illuminating insight into the early history of women in Pakistan. While the use of women as markers of modernity and propaganda is not new, here within the context of Cold War and American cultural diplomacy, the ‘modernist’ vision of the Ayub-era in Pakistan (1958–1969), and its accompanying jet-age provide a unique lens through which to explore the changing role of women. The article showcases a different approach to understanding the so-called ‘golden age’ of Pakistani history: a neglected area of the international history on Pakistan, which is far too often one-dimensional.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Pakistan, women, aviation, Cold War, PIA


Virdee, P. (2018) Women and Pakistan International Airlines in Ayub Khan's Pakistan. The International History Review, 41 (6), pp. 1341-1366


Research Institute

Institute of History