Pakistani court closes licensed liquor shops for non-Muslims

Source: Reuters

By Syed Raza Hassan | KARACHI, PAKISTAN

A Pakistani court on Thursday ordered the closure of all liquor shops in the southern province of Sindh, officials said, cutting off one of the few legal alcohol sources in the Muslim-majority country.

Although Pakistani Muslims are banned from drinking alcohol, the country’s minorities, mainly Hindus and Christians, face no such prohibition. However, critics argue that the licensed liquor shops also sell to Muslims.

It is not clear how the minorities will now buy liquor in the province, home to the teeming financial capital Karachi, with some 20 million people.

“The chief justice Sindh high Court has ordered closure of all liquor shops in entire Sindh because they are running their business in violation of article 17, 19 of Hudood Ordinance 1979,” Ghulam Mustafa Mahesar Additional Advocate General Sindh province told Reuters.

According to Hudood law, passed under former military ruler General Zia ul-Haq, the sale of liquor is for non-Muslims and it is allowed only during religious ceremonies.

The court case stemmed from a business rivalry among two members of Hindu community who are wine shop owners, with each filing a petition against the other, Mahesar said.

“So as a result of the business rivalry, today all their businesses stand closed,” he said.

There are 120 retail liquor shops in Sindh, 21 wholesale shops and 20 which were non-operative for some reason, an official at the provincial Excise Department said.

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1 reply

  1. Pakistan – designated State primarily for Muslims. Muslim communities have traditionally been tee-total so a ban on alcohol seems appropriate (though as mentioned in the article, it can be sold to members of minority religions for their religious ceremonies). There is the argument that minimal or moderate consumption of alcohol could have health benefits and the Koran also mentions that it can be beneficial. However, the Koran then points out that the negative effects of allowing alcohol
    outweigh the positive. Particularly in a community which is not accustomed to drinking alcohol, if the Government were to allow consumption, it could have disastrous effects in society.
    The Prohibition Act in the United States in the early twentieth century eventually was repealed:
    There had been increased crime – black market/criminal gang involvement – moreover, a significant proportion of the US population had always been against the Prohibition for there had been a drinking culture in the United States since earliest times. Again, that is not the case with Pakistan.
    Some people might complain their human rights are not being respected if they cannot purchase alcohol in Pakistan. Yet if the vast majority of the population or the Government in a stewardship role, consider it would not be in Pakistani people’s best interests to liberalize the selling of alcohol, then it becomes a matter of human rights in the balance: On the one hand, liberalism – allowing each individual to do what he/she likes so long as it does not directly adversely affect anyone else – versus maintaining what has been a positive feature of Islamic society – freedom from the negative effects of over-consumption of alcohol, such as alcoholism and drunkenness, which not only endanger the health of individuals but often result in violent crime in society and traffic accidents.
    Conceivably, only non-Muslim moderate drinkers would purchase alcohol if the selling of alcohol was permitted. Yet, maybe many people would be influenced in their moral thinking by what the Government legislates as acceptable in Pakistan and maybe a drinking culture would become more prevalent.
    In the West, there are regions which outlaw alcohol consumption – religious communities such as the Amish who own and live on vast land areas in the United States. Upon reaching the age of 16, Amish choose whether to remain Amish or to live in mainstream America. Could a whole nation such as Pakistan be considered in the same light?

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