Pakistan is a Muslim country and alcohol is forbidden. Alcoholic beverages cannot be found in local markets but there a few liquor stores.. Alcoholic drinks are generally only sold in hotels. In the Himalayas some people drink barley beer or rice beer. People can purchase smuggled in imports or locally-made moonshine. The stigma attached to drinking is particularly intense during Ramadan, when Pakistan's few liquor stores are closed.

At party at Buckingham Palace, Churchill reportedly had the following exchange with the Prime Minister of Pakistan: "Will you have a whisky and soda, Mr. Prime Minister?" "No, thank you!" "What's that?" "No thank you!" "What, why?" "I'm a teetotaller, Mr. Prime Minister." "What's that ?" "I'm a teetotaller." "A teetotaller. Christ! I mean God! I mean Allah!"

Annual alcohol consumption per capita: 0.1 pure alcohol in liters:, the lowest of 191 countries listed (compared to 17.4 liters in Belarus; 9.2 liters in the United States; and 2.4 liters in Japan). [Source: World Health Organization data, Wikipedia Wikipedia ]

Alcoholism (deaths per 100,000 people): 3.08, ranked 170 out of 183 countries, (compared to 14.68 in Russia and 2.04 in Jamaica). [Source: World Health Organization, World Life Expectancy worldlifeexpectancy.com ]

Drinking Customs in Pakistan

Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol. A lot of Muslims drink but they are either very secretive about it and just do it occasionally. In Muslim countries that have alcohol prohibitions alcoholic drinks are generally available at hotels with Western customers. Sometimes alcohol is offered to Western guests by Westernized Pakistanis.

Tea is often served to guests and enjoyed during breaks. A lot of socializing revolves around drinking tea. Many people drink milk tea served in small cups. Muslim law and tradition even describe how a person should drink tea: three slow sips, not blowing on the tea, but waiting for it to cool naturally. Sometimes tea is spilled into a saucer to symbolize generosity of a host.

When drinking with a group in a party style atmosphere it is customary to pour drinks for other people not yourself. When drinking from a communal container or glass don't touch your lips to the container or glass. As a rule women are discouraged from drinking with males and smoking.

Drinking Alcohol in Pakistan

Alcohol has a long association with Pakistan’s leaders. The country’s deeply revered founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah drank a nightly whiskey and soda. Military dictator Pervez Musharraf's also loved whisky. Alcohol was legal for all Pakistanis to purchase until 1977, when prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto banned its sale to curry favor with right-wing Islamist political parties. Imported whisky of average quality costs about US$60-100. [Source: Joris Fioriti, with Ashraf Khan, AFP, May 8, 2020]

According to AFP: “In Pakistan, home to about 215 million people — 97 percent of whom are Muslim — only a minority is thought to drink, but this includes the elites who can afford to buy imported alcohol. “For Muslims in Pakistan, drinking alcohol is prohibited and talking about it is taboo," Pakistani novelist Mohammed Hanif once wrote in a column in the New York Times. “Drinking and denying it is the oldest cocktail in the country." “A senior police official said underground sales persist, with bottles smuggled in through sparsely populated areas on the south coast. “Busting Pakistan's liquor market is quite a task as the elite of the country makes the essential consumers," the official said.

Under Pakistani law, non-Muslims and foreigners who obtain a special government permit may buy small amounts of liquor and beer from licensed sellers, most common in the southern metropolis of Karachi, where there is a large Hindu population.

But it's common knowledge that some Pakistani Muslims drink. Empty beer cans are a common sight in trash-strewn gutters. Bars at luxury hotels don't always demand to see permits, and [Source: Nicolas Brulliard, Washington Post, April 28, 2010]

Alcohol Laws in Pakistan

At one time drinking alcohol was quite common. After alcohol was banned in 1977 many people stopped drinking and began taking drugs as a substitute. Those caught drinking can become targets of Taliban militants and other Islamists, some of whom have declared drinking to be a "heinous crime" punishable by public flogging.

When buying alcohol in a hotel you often need to sign a form that states that you are a non-Muslim and pay a small fee. You can also obtain a license (ask at your hotel how to get one) that allows to buy alcohol from government liquors stores in major cities. If you bring liquor into the country it will be confiscated from you at the airport. Liquor found in a travelers luggage can sometimes get their liquor back when they leave the country.

After the consumption of alcohol was banned 1977 non-Muslims were allowed to produce or purchase it by permit. Alcohol is available at the luxury hotels in the major cities that cater to foreign travelers, and many Pakistani Muslims do consume alcohol despite restrictions, purchasing it covertly from hotels. [Source:“Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices,” Thomson Gale, 2006]

According to the Washington Post: “Muslim drinkers can easily procure alcohol from bootleggers or willing Christians or Hindus. "Most people, they drink beer, but they don't tell," Yasin Sadiq, 47, the chief brewer at Murree Brewey, who as a Muslim is legally barred from drinking his creation, told the Washington Post. That laxness bothers lawmakers such as Khurshid Ahmed, a senator with the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami, who says the government doesn't do enough to enforce a ban he says Islamic law requires. [Source: Nicolas Brulliard, Washington Post, April 28, 2010]

In 2012, the Pakistani government decided to allow beer exports to non-Muslim countries. Approval for alcohol exports was aimed mainly at generating more tax revenue. The decision mainly affected Murree, Pakistan’s only brewery (See Below), who saw the decision as an opportunity to do business in India. In India’s state of Punjab, Murree beer is already routinely smuggled over the border from Pakistani Punjab. [Source: Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2012]

Pakistani Boozers Have Hard Time During Ramadan Coronavirus-Lockdown

Getting you hands on some alcohol in Pakistan was particularly hard during Ramadan in May, 2020 which coincided with a coronavirus lockdown. Joris Fioriti and Ashraf Khan of AFP wrote: “Drinking alcohol in Pakistan can be a complicated affair at the best of times, but for 25-year-old student Iram, the coronavirus pandemic has made getting a beer all but impossible. [Source: Joris Fioriti, with Ashraf Khan, AFP, May 8, 2020, 4:21 PM

“Every spring, as the weather starts to heat up, she usually enjoys a cool brew or two. However, this year the lockdown has compounded the annual booze shortage that comes during the holy month of Ramadan, making the task of finding a drink an even greater challenge. “There is no more beer!" lamented Iram, an Islamabad resident who asked AFP, to use a pseudonym for fear of reprisals in this conservative country where drinking is illegal for Muslims, even though many people enjoy a tipple. “I checked with four bootleggers. Three had run out and the last one was offering 24 cans for 15,000 rupees (US$95)." The sum is equivalent to the monthly wage for many people, and Iram initially baulked at the price. When she changed her mind a couple of days later, the beer was gone. “Normally, we still manage to get what we are looking for. But this year, it has become very complicated," said Hassan, a thirty-something banker living in Islamabad.

“Similar scenes are playing out across Pakistan. In Lahore, the second-largest city after Karachi, things are "dry, dry, dry," said Daud. “The hotels are closed, so there's no place to get local booze," said the lawyer, who also asked AFP, not to use his real name. Ramadan this year came just as Pakistan was locked down in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19. “Because of the pandemic, air travel into Pakistan has stopped, and with it the flow of passengers bringing in duty-free booze. For the last month and a half, the Murree Brewery, like many other manufacturers, was forced to halt production. Instead of producing drinks, Murree is now using alcohol to make hand sanitiser.

“Isphanyar Bhandara, Murree's chief executive, said Pakistan's alcohol shortage means drinkers are being forced to source home-made alternatives that are frequently unsafe. “The only people who are thriving are the ones who already have imported alcohol in their stores and are selling them at jacked-up prices," Bhandara said. “The other beneficiaries are the murderous people who are making home-made alcohol with low quality which is making poor people die." “Faced with so many obstacles and a month of sobriety, Daud, the lawyer in Lahore, said in the absence of booze he is smoking more hashish, which is produced in large quantities in northwest Pakistan. “My dealer still delivers to my house," Daud said. "It's just a lot easier."

Murree Brewery

There is one local brewery in Pakistan — Murree Brewery — which sells an "export" quality beer for Christian Pakistanis and foreigners. Founded by British colonial rulers in 1860 to supply beer to their troops, Murree produces both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. It is Pakistan's largest and oldest producer of alcoholic products. In 2015, it produced 10 million litres of beer, along with hundreds of tons of single malt whisky, vodka and brandy. Muree is a publicly traded company listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange. Its products are exported to India and Bangladesh and has a flagship store on Park Avenue in New York City. In 2013, it was named by Forbes as one of Asia's 200 best companies. The brewery has manufacturing units located in Rawalpindi, Punjab and Hattar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is one of Pakistan's fastest-growing companies. [Source: Wikipedia]

Reporting from Rawalpindi, Nicolas Brulliard wrote in the Washington Post: “This conservative city is known for its army generals and fundamentalist mosques. Yet in a cluster of brick buildings in the center of town stands a family-owned brewery that has somehow survived more than a century of adversity. Established in 1860 to quench the thirst of British troops, the brewery has withstood riots, shutdowns and severe restrictions, including laws that for more than three decades have put alcohol off-limits to the vast majority of Pakistanis. [Source: Nicolas Brulliard, Washington Post, April 28, 2010]

“Today, Murree Brewery is a bustling operation. While Isphanyar Bhandara is Zoroastrian and therefore not subject to the alcohol ban, nearly all of his employees are Muslim. Many interrupt their work to heed the call to prayer and walk to a nearby mosque. Bhandara said sales — which totaled about US$30 million in 2008 — are on the rise, although he declined to offer specifics.

Bhandara said he is lobbying the government to lift the export ban but also focusing on developing new products. On a recent Saturday, he hosted representatives of a flavoring company to discuss a new energy drink. After quietly listening to the pitch and posing questions alternately in English and Urdu, Bhandara delivered his verdict. If the ingredients proposed were too expensive for him to make a 30-cent drink, he wasn't interested. "The price has to make sense," he said.

“Beer and liquor remain the core of the company's business, but in Pakistan's volatile landscape, Bhandara is increasingly focusing his attention on products that can be sold to the whole of the country's booming, impoverished population. "You cannot be certain with the future of a brewery in Pakistan, especially now with the intolerance toward the Western way of life," he said.

Reuters reported in 2012: “Relying on word of mouth and an influx of thirsty diplomats and foreign investors, annual alcohol sales have grown an average of 20 percent over the past five years, reaching US$26.8 million in the 2012 financial year. The company’s stock is up 175 percent so far this year...Despite its strong sales, the company’s net profit after taxes rose a mere 1 percent year-on-year to 525 million Pakistan rupees (US$5.48 million) for the year ended June 30, due to an increase in alcohol taxes and rising labour costs. The brewery, which employs 1,100 people, is located within the headquarters of the Pakistani Army and across the street from the residences of the country’s top military commanders, making it arguably the most protected brewery in the world. [Source: Randy Fabi. Reuters, November 16, 2012]

Murree Alcohol Sales in Pakistan

Murree is most popular brand of local beer (See Murree Brewery Below). It makes Murree Stout, Murree Lite Export (pilsener), Murree's Light (American-style pale lager) and Murree's Wheat Beer. A bottle generally costs around five dollars at an upscale hotel restaurants but is less than a dollar at a government-authorized liquor store. The duties are very high on imported brands. o prosper despite the restrictions on alcohol, Murree produces a wide range of products: whiskeys, gin, rum and vodka, including a 12-year-old single malt whiskey and Irish cream, as well as juices and soft drinks. To circumvent a ban on alcohol export, they secured an agreement with an Austrian brewer to produce their beer in Europe.

Alex Rodriguez wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “In Pakistan, sales are hardly a problem. At hotels in the capital, Islamabad, cases of Murree are hauled away by thirsty Westerners just as quickly as workers can stock them. Black marketeers make millions of rupees serving the legions of Pakistani Muslims who drink on the sly. [Source: Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2012]

That Pakistani Muslims can get their hands on Murree beer, whiskey, vodka and gin doesn’t really bother Bhandara. “Murree’s direct customers are institutions, not individuals,” said the beer magnate, whose non-Muslim family has owned Murree since the late 1940s. “I’m only allowed to sell my product at government-authorized outlets. If those hotels and shops sell to Muslims, that’s not my concern or jurisdiction.”

The people Bhandara might worry about the most, Pakistan’s array of Islamist militant groups, have never attacked the brewery. The reason may lie in its location, a sprawling red-brick compound less than a mile and a half from the army’s headquarters, Pakistan’s equivalent to the Pentagon, and not far from the residence of army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani.

Inside the brewery, a tidy, clockwork rhythm prevails that seems out of place amid the dusty bustle of bazaars and motorcycle-rickshaw-choked avenues of Rawalpindi. Workers and technicians, almost all of whom are Pakistani Muslims, tend to conveyor belts spitting out thousands of bottles a day of Murree’s honey-gold lager. In the distillery, an eclectic array of liquors is produced: Lemo’ Lime gin, Dew of Himalayas malt whiskey, Bolskaya vodka and, until recently, even an Irish cream.

Producing Alcohol in Pakistan Under Islamic Glare

Nicolas Brulliard wrote in the Washington Post: Today, Murree Brewery offers a window into the contradictions of modern Pakistan, where secular practices endure in the face of rising religious fundamentalism. In a nation where conservative Islam is gaining influence, that is the kind of stance Isphanyar Bhandara, the brewery's 37-year-old chief executive, said he must carefully dance around every day. [Source: Nicolas Brulliard, Washington Post, April 28, 2010]

“The brewery keeps a low profile: It does virtually no advertising for its alcoholic products. That has not always been easy for the operation, named after a nearby resort in the Himalayan foothills. Murree Brewery was burned to the ground in 1947, during the riots that broke out during Pakistan's creation. Partition from India cost the brewery access to many clients who lived across the new border. The biggest hurdle came in 1977, when Bhutto banned alcohol consumption among Muslims. To Bhandara, the move was pure Pakistani politics — a leader seeking to appease religious conservatives and distract the population from a less-than-stellar governance record. "The leaders we've had over the years, they've always misused religion by stirring up the masses," Bhandara said. "Alcohol is the easiest child to whip." The move wasn't enough to rescue Bhutto's political career. He was hanged a stone's throw from the brewery a couple of years later.

Bhandara's father, who ran the brewery for nearly 50 years before his death in 2008 continuously engaged the government. Those who knew the late Bhandara, who was a longtime member of Parliament, attribute the brewery's endurance to his adept dealings with authorities. "That needed finesse," said Ardeshir Cowasjee, a newspaper columnist and distant cousin of Bhandara. "He had to be very diplomatic."

Randy Fabi of Reuters wrote: Today, “Isphanyar Bhandara, lives in constant fear that authorities will shut down alcohol production at any moment as Pakistan drifts towards a more conservative interpretation of Islam. “Pakistan is moving more and more to the right. That is not good for Pakistan and not good for us,” said the 39-year-old executive at his office in Rawalpindi, a military city just outside the capital, Islamabad “Each day we are allowed to survive, that is a blessing.” [Source: Randy Fabi. Reuters, November 16, 2012]

Government Restrictions and Pressures on Murree

Alex Rodriguez wrote in the Los Angeles Times: In 2011, the brewery, which is already heavily taxed, got word from the Punjab government that Murree would be assessed a separate pre-production duty on ethanol purchased for use in its distillery, a move that brewery executives said amounted to double-taxing. [Source: Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2012]

“Murree balked at paying, and for six months the brewery’s operations were virtually shut down. Bhandara estimates his losses amounted to about US$1 million. Murree threatened to take the case to court, but eventually agreed to pay extra duty on the ethanol provided it wasn’t made retroactive.

“There are other government-imposed restrictions that the brewery grudgingly endures. Each morning, the brewery can’t open until a Punjab provincial inspector unlocks the gates. That inspector also has the keys for the buildings within the compound that involve alcohol production, including the brewery’s fermentation vats and storage tanks, the bottling department and the distillery. He unlocks only those departments that are expected to be in use that day. “It’s done to prevent pilferage,” Bhandara said. “The government wants to ensure that for every drop that goes out, it gets its share.”“

Will Bruce Willis’s Helps Daughter Puts Murree on the Map?

Randy Fabi of Reuters wrote: “What have Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, underage drinking and Pakistan’s only beer maker got in common? It was the arrest of the Hollywood stars’ daughter in New York with a can of Murree Brewery’s beer last June that propelled the company out of obscurity and into the spotlight. Inundated with emails asking about its beer, Murree Brewery seized on the free publicity to launch expansion plans outside the Muslim nation, [Source: Randy Fabi. Reuters, November 16, 2012]

Five months since the arrest, Murree lined up distributors to help to sell its flagship beer at “liquor store shelves in the United States and Dubai” in 2013. “Demi Moore and Bruce Willis’ daughter gave us multi-million dollars worth of publicity by default. We plan to go to the United States and make a queue to hug both the daughter and the mother,” Sabih ur Rehman, special assistant to the chief executive, joked with Reuters.

Murree Brewery is desperately looking for business overseas to hedge against its uncertain domestic market. To ensure survival, it has turned to a European brewery to produce its beer for overseas consumption due to a government ban on alcohol exports, which was eased just recently. The Pakistani brewery said it has reached an agreement with the Czech Republic’s Zatec Brewery initially to produce at least 5,000 cases, each containing 24 bottles of Murree Beer, annually from next year. That amount will double in 2015, Rehman said. However, the managing director of Zatec Brewery, Martin Kec, said he knew nothing of this arrangement and his firm had only produced a very small amount of Murree Beer in the past.

“Murree Brewery also said it has lined up distributors in Texas, Dubai and Denmark to market and sell its lager under franchise agreements, and is looking for partners in Britain and other European countries. “We are virgins and we are looking for husbands,” said Bhandara, whose family is from the country’s non-Muslim Parsi minority. The company’s last attempt to break into Western markets failed after it was forced to end its partnership with an Austrian brewery due to high costs and logistical problems. Analysts say a few tabloid headlines will not be enough to be successful and Murree will also need a multi-million-dollar promotional campaign. It is also unclear the type of consumer they are trying to sell their beer to, since most Pakistanis living abroad are Muslim and unlikely to drink alcohol.

Deaths from Alcohol Poisoning in Pakistan

In April 2020, at least 29 people died after drinking bootleg liquor according to AFP. In September 2007, poisonous alcohol killed 27 people in in southern Pakistan. Wire services reported: The deaths were reported after more than three dozen people were brought to various hospitals in Karachi, the nation's biggest city. Their relatives told doctors that they had consumed "poisonous alcohol", said Javed Bukhari, the city's police chief. In September 2004, a lethal batch of home-brewed alcohol killed 31 people in several towns in central Pakistan, mostly in Multan in the Punjab . A doctor at a hospital in Multan where 17 people brought in died within hours told Reuters: “It was an extremely poisonous alcohol, which affected the lungs and kidneys.”

In October 2014, six senior excise officials and six policemen were suspended after 29 people died of alcohol poisoning from consuming methanol-tainted liquor over the Eid public holidays in Karachi. It was the highest recorded toll in seven years. AFP reported: Gayan Chand, the provincial minister for excise, told AFP: “We have begun an inquiry to find out who sold the spirit illegally and we would take further action against those dealers. He confirmed six officials from his department had been suspended, while a police spokesman said six members of the force in Karachi had been suspended for negligence, because the incidents occurred in areas they are supposed to monitor. The police spokesman said they had a prime suspect and had filed murder charges against him, but he was still at large. [Source: AFP, October 9, 2014]

“The toll has jumped since the first deaths were reported with residents of the low-income Landhi and Qurangi neighbourhoods of the southern city mainly affected. The incidents highlight the proliferation of low-grade liquor in” Pakistan. “The death toll from toxic liquor has risen to 29, while 24 others were being treated at the hospital,” said Seemi Jamali, a senior doctor and spokeswoman for Karachi's Jinnah Hospital.

“Police have conducted raids at illegal liquor factories, arrested three suspects and seized a quantity of “katchi sharab” (home made liquor). A few days earlier, at least 20 people died in Hyderabad reportedly after consuming toxic liquor. While higher income Pakistanis buy bootlegged higher grade alcohol at heavily inflated prices, the poor often resort to home-brews that can contain methanol, commonly used in anti-freeze and fuel. Consumption of methanol can lead to blindness, liver damage and death. In 2007, 40 people were killed in Karachi after drinking contaminated liquor.

Around Christmas in 2016, at least 32 people were killed and dozens were left seriously ill after drinking toxic alcohol in Punjab in Pakistan. The BBC reported: The dead, mostly minority Christians, consumed the homemade liquor in the city of Toba Tek Singh. With alcohol sales tightly regulated, people often turn to cheap homebrewed spirits, which often contain poisonous methanol. It's the latest case of deadly alcohol poisoning in Pakistan after 11 died in October, also in Punjab province. [Source: BBC, December 27, 2016]

“Police officer Mohammad Nadeem told BBC Urdu that 25 people were still being treated in hospitals in Toba Tek Singh and Faisalabad to have their stomachs pumped. "The men who belong to the Christian community drank liquor on the night of 25 December and went home. Tragedy struck the next morning when many did not rise from their beds, while others got sick," he said. He said two local men had been asked to buy alcohol for the party. "The local sellers were out of stock so they went and bought it from somewhere else. Both have died."

Police are questioning a number of locals to find out where the alcohol was made and sold. Because of Pakistan's liquor regulations, many people illegally brew alcohol at home, and there have been several cases of mass poisonings in the past — in 2014 some 40 people died within a few days as a result of drinking tainted alcohol in Sindh. Distilling alcohol safely requires precise conditions to ensure methanol, or methyl alcohol, is separated from the drink.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks in Pakistan

Street vendors sell a wide variety of drinks, including lassi” (watered down buttermilk or yoghurt), chai (tea), often boiled with milk, nutmeg, and sugar and nimbu paani ("fresh lime" made of crushed ice, salt, sugar, soda water, and lime juice). Coffee is not very common. When its available it us usually instant coffee.

Coke, Pepsi, Fanta, 7-U, red Bull, RC Cola and other soft drinks are available as well as fruit juices of various types. In some places you can get freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice, fresh-squeezed orange drink, rooh-e-afza (syrup and rose water drink), and sweet tamarind drink. Mango juice, pomegranate juice, watermelon juice and juice made from a berry called a falsa are also popular. People drink lassis with either fruit, sugar or salt. In the Punjab lassis are made with butter milk. Elsewhere they are usually made with yoghurt

Orange and lemon squash (syrups in which water is added) should be avoided because the water may be not be clean. Pakistani often add salt and even pepper to drinks. Local soft drinks include Next and Shandy colas. Shezan makes bottled mango juice and other drinks. Apple juice, orange juice, mango juice and other juices are available in small cartons,

The tap water should be regarded with suspicion, even at fancy hotels. Restaurants generally don't serve water, and if they do be careful about drinking it. Watch out for ice cubes, salads and fruit too. Also be careful with milk products.

Annual milk consumption per capita: 183,3 kilograms (compared to 430 kilograms in Finland, 254 kilograms in the United States and 29.5 kilograms in Thailand). [Source: Wikipedia Wikipedia ]

Tea in Pakistan

Pakistanis are big tea drinkers. Green tea is the typical drink served at all meals. Many Pakistanis favor tea with cow or buffalo milk and lots of sugar and allspice (nutmeg, cardommon, cloves and cinnamon). “Kahwah” is green tea flavored with spices. Green tea or jasmine tea is often served after meals. Some people drink 20 cups of chai (sweet tea with milk) a day.

Tea is offered in homes, offices and shops are a courtesy and act of hospitality. Tea is consumed al times of the day and is fixture of business meetings. It sometimes seems like Pakistani men spend half their day drinking tea. Vendors often invite customers in share a cup of tea. In some places boys runs along side cars in traffic jams and deliver green tea on brass trays.

Pakistan is one of the world’s largest tea importers. It produces little tea of its own and has to be import it. Pakistan’s dry climate makes tea growing difficult. Even so it is trying to generate tea farming.

Per capita consumption of tea increased by 35.8 percent from 2007 to 2016. Currently, Pakistanis consume 172,911 tonnes of black tea a year. The figure is expected to rise 250,750 tonnes by 2027, an FAO report estimates. The amount of tea imports in the country increased by 2.36% during July-August in 2017-18 as compared to the same period in 2016-18.According to data from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), Pakistan imported 34,126 tonnes of tea worth US$94.419 million in the 2017-2018 fiscal years, compared to US$94.194 million during the same time period in 2016-2017. [Source: Aitzaz Hassan, Pro Pakistani, June 25, 2018]

Pakistani Bride Kills 17 Attempting to Poison Her Husband

In November 2017, a woman in Punjab was accused of killing 17 people, including many of her in-laws, in a botched attempt to poison her new husband. Associated Press reported from Multan: “Pakistani police arrested a newly married woman on murder charges after she allegedly poisoned her husband's milk and it inadvertently killed 17 other people in a remote village, a senior police officer said. District police chief Sohail Habib Tajak said a judge allowed the police to question the woman, 21-year-old Aasia Bibi, for two weeks to determine whether it was the woman's decision or her boyfriend had incited her to kill her husband by poisoning. "Our officers have made progress by arresting a woman and her lover in connection with this murder case, which was complicated and challenging for us," Tajak told The Associated Press. [Source: Iram Asim, The Associated Press, November 1, 2017]

“He said Bibi was married against her will in September in a village near the town of Ali Pur, 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Multan, a city in the eastern Punjab province. Tajak said Bibi was not happy with her husband and wanted to return to her parents' home. She apparently obtained a poisonous substance from her boyfriend, Shahid Lashari, last week and mixed it in milk for her husband, who refused to drink it, Tajak also said.

“The woman's mother-in-law later inadvertently used the tainted milk to make a traditional yogurt-based drink and served it to 27 members of her extended family, who fell unconscious and were hospitalized. Seventeen people died and 10 are still being treated in hospital, he said. Bibi and Lashari appeared before a judge in the city of Muzaffargarh on Tuesday, where she told reporters that she was angered over her parents' decision to marry her to a man against her will. They did not have lawyers. "I repeatedly asked my parents not to marry me against my will as my religion, Islam, also allows me to choose the man of my choice for marriage but my parents rejected all of my pleas and they married me to a relative," she said.

“She said her love affair with her boyfriend continued after she got married. Bibi said she had warned her parents that she was capable of going to any length to get out of the marriage, but they refused to allow her to get a divorce. She said Lashari gave her a poisonous substance, which she used to try to kill her husband. She expressed remorse over the deaths, saying her target was only her husband. Tajak said Lashari confessed to supplying the poisonous substance.

Fruit Juice Bars in Lahore Targeted by Islamists

In Lahore, fruit juice bars have been bombed by Islamists because they provide places where men and women can meet, and thus have been labeled of dens of immorality. Reporting from Lahore, Mark Magnie wrote in the Los Angeles Times: They are considered risque dens of iniquity and have been bombed simply for providing a place where men and women can (gasp) talk to each other. Fruit juice bars may seem an unusual front line in Pakistan's war on Islamic militancy, but many of their owners feel deserving of combat pay these days for serving up cold smoothies. Attacks on fresh juice bars in Lahore” in late 2008 “centered on the Garhi Shahu neighborhood, where bearded men crouched on low stools in front of small shops gossip, gulp down sweet tea and launch tobacco clouds skyward from communal hookahs. [Source: Mark Magnie, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2009]

“It's also a part of Lahore where many Afghans and Uzbeks have settled, residents say, creating a subculture of Islamic fundamentalism in a historically more tolerant city. Anti-Taliban cleric Sarfraz Naeemi was killed in the neighborhood last month by a suicide bomber. Navigating through a jumble of parked motorcycles brings you to Dasko Juice, decorated with dusty, low-hanging fruit of the plastic variety, a picture of London's Tower Bridge and pyramids of canned orange juice.

“The reason Dasko was among those attacked with bombs year is six booths in an adjoining room, some of which have small curtains for privacy, where men and women can chat discreetly. "Basically it's just a place where girls and boys come and drink juice," says Mohammed Naeem, Dasko's owner, dressed in a shalwar kameez, the traditional loose-fitting pants and long shirt. "These people try and portray us as immoral, but it's not true. They're just sitting and talking, but that's a threat to them."

“As he speaks, a woman dressed in a burka enters with a male companion. She looks embarrassed at the presence of a foreigner and immediately leaves. In one of the two booths without a curtain, businessman Mohammed Yasim, 45, sits talking with a woman in a head scarf. Asked whether it's a sensitive issue to be seen here with a female companion, he gets visibly irritated. "She's my sister, she's my sister," he blurts out. "We're only talking family business."

Attacks on Fruit Juice Bars by Militant Islamists in Lahore

Mark Magnie wrote in the Los Angeles Times: The coordinated attacks on Dasko and several competitors — part of a chain of neighborhood threats and violence targeting cinemas, DVD stores and barbershops — started about 10 one night in October with an explosion at the Chino Juice Corner down the street that some initially thought was a gas cylinder blowing up. One person died and several were injured. Chino is now out of business. Minutes later, an explosion was heard at the nearby Al Rehman juice bar, followed by the bomb at Dasko, left on the wall of an empty shop next door. The blast blew apart the wall, destroying booths and causing other damage. [Source: Mark Magnie, Los Angeles Times, July 1, 2009]

“The operators received no warnings, although posters in the neighborhood had been prodding people for months to end their sinful ways and one of the other juice bars had been ordered to stop letting boys and girls "indulge in immoral acts" on its property. "We never knew who placed the bombs," says Khuram Butt, a waiter. "Fortunately the one that hit us was relatively small and seemed to be aimed more at scaring than killing."

“An adjoining shop that sold DVDs suffered collateral damage of sorts. "The militants also hate DVDs, so I got very scared and switched to selling clothes," says Abdul Kalam, his window decorated with five pairs of dusty jeans and three handwritten signs seeking someone to take over his lease. "I probably lost US$7,000 and make no money at this, all because of fear."

“Juice bars, a feature in many Pakistani cities, seem a reasonable way for many lower middle-class young people to relax. "It's something to do and it doesn't cost much, maybe 70 cents," says Zulqernain Tahir, a reporter in Lahore with the newspaper Dawn. "These attacks are very unfortunate."

“Most of the stores probably have been targets of opportunity, analysts say. "It's really a matter of conveniently hitting people," says Mohammed Jawwad, an assistant professor of psychology at Lahore's University of the Punjab. "Basically they don't like coed gathering, even though coed gatherings are a part of Islam, including the hajj itself. There's a real narrowness of thinking."

“Dasko's sales fell after the explosion. But without another juice bar attack in several months, business has begun to increase. The staff has stepped up security, proudly displaying a "Super Scanner" brand metal detector wand, although its use seems a bit random. "I could tell you weren't dangerous so I didn't use it on you," Butt, the waiter, says to a Westerner. "You didn't seem to be carrying anything." The staff says it's now keeping a closer eye on customers leaving bags behind and keeps only one door open to better monitor those entering. It has also put up some new drywall and repaired decorative arches damaged by the blast. "They were trying to stop our way of life," says Naeem, the owner. "Sure, it's dangerous to stay in this business, but what can we do. We have no other way of making a living."

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (tourism.gov.pk), Official Gateway to the Government of Pakistan (pakistan.gov.pk), The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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