In Pakistan, the alcohol trade flourishes despite of the ban

He does his work in the shadows and is always on the lookout for the police, but Abdul is not into the drug trade. He is providing to the tipplers their ration of alcohol. Every afternoon, Abdul hits the road and remains on duty until midnight. With several bottles of alcohol hidden under his car seats, he drives around the length and breadth of Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province ( NWFP), a conservative town not very far from the Afghan border.

In Pakistan, alcohol has been banned in 1977. The ban was issued by the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to appease muslim conservatives at a time when he was in hot political waters. ( Drinking alcohol is prohibited by the Koran.) But Bhutto himself did not consider liquor “haram”( forbidden by Islam) and used to drink daily. The law has since been strictly followed  especially after 1979, when the general Zia Ul-Haq, who used Islam to make valid and extend his rule, came to power.

Every year, law-enforcing agencies make the rounds and confiscate a huge quantity of alcohol. In the 2000’s, when Pervez Musharaf was the President of Pakistan, the government tried to sell off its collection of confiscated alcohol believed to be worth millions of U.S. dollars to the non-muslims to generate much needed funds for the state kitty.

The ban is not absolute. The country’s small christian population and non-muslims foreigners are allowed to possess and drink alcohol, although they need to acquire a permit to do it. In some provinces, many christian families with permits sell their quotas to muslims. While almost all the alcohol consumed in Pakistan is produced in the country (!!!), only a small quantity is smuggled from India. Moreover, some embassies in Islamabad are even known for selling liquor to the residents of the capital.

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1 Response to In Pakistan, the alcohol trade flourishes despite of the ban

  1. Interesting blog. Pakistan was not always so intolerant about alcohol. I remember visiting the Murree Beer Brewery in Rawalpindi back in the early 1970s.

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