NEW DELHI: Iraq is today associated with the Islamic State, which has captured large swathes of territory in the country’s north and neighbouring Syria and provided fodder for the United States and Wests’ continuing war on terror. It is racked by sectarian conflict, which has been exacerbated by the US invasion of 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has concluded that women’s rights in Iraq are increasingly being threatened. Child marriages have been on the rise since 2003, notes the International Population Reference Bureau.

Over a million people in the country are displaced. Over 10,000 civilians were killed in 2013 alone. An Oxfam report notes that 97 percent of the country’s children face learning impediments.

The depressing statistics are unending.

However, Iraq was not always conflict-ridden and regressive. These pictures -- courtesy the the British archival footage company Pathe -- from the country in the 1950s show a very different Iraq; one that served as an important connect between the east and west, that was opening up to prosperity and modernity, where women were beginning to enjoy freedom and equality ahead of the rest of the Arab world.

Baghdad, the capital, was once a modern city, with wide roads and commercial activity.

Summers were spent poolside.

Schools and colleges saw droves of women students.

An aspiring middle class was beginning to emerge.

The port city of Basra was known as the “Middle Eastern Venice” and rightfully so.

The video British Pathe video, titled “Ageless Iraq” depicts Iraq in the 1950s. “The twentieth century has come to Iraq” the narrator declares, as the film shows us scenes from the country. The twentieth century came, briefly, and Iraq regressed from then.