He got his primary education from St. Anthony’s School in Karachi, and then St. Patrick’s from where he completed school. Permal used to sprint from his home in Saddar, Karachi, to his school, Saint Patrick's every morning. He received a bachelor's degree in Commerce in 1966.
From 1964 to 1974 John Permal was the undisputed fastest human in Pakistan. P. John Permal first became Pakistan’s fastest man at the 1965 National Games in Lahore, where he actually finished second. He retained the 100m fastest-man-in-Pakistan title in Rawalpindi in 1967, at Dhaka in 1968, at Karachi in 1970, at Nawabshah in 1971, and again in Lahore for the last time in 1973. His best time came in 1969 at a Bonn athletics meet where he clocked 10.4 seconds for the 100 metres event.
The biggest triumph of his athletic career was the gold medal that he won for Sindh in the 400 metres relay at the National Games at Dacca in 1968. During the pinnacle of his career, the international press considered him to be one of the most feared sprinters from this part of the world. He represented Pakistan with distinction at two Asian Games, both at Bangkok, in 1966 and 1970, and the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970. Permal also represented Pakistan at the Munich Olympics in 1972.
Having retired from sprinting in 1974, Permal took up a position with a travel agent in Saudi Arabia. Between 1976 and 1994 Permal dedicated himself to the travel trade doing airline ticketing and reservations. Permal married Josephine in 1978 and they have three children.
- Dawn February 28, 1970, John Permal Fastest Human in Pakistan
- DAWN May 3, 1995
- Christian Voice, June 18, 1995
- Dawn August 21, 2008