Alcohol is officially banned in Pakistan. But some crave for it so dearly that they will go to any lengths to get hold of the stuff. Sometimes there are tragic consequences.
Indeed alcohol is a great uniting force for adherents of all the three main religions in Pakistan — Muslims, Christians and Hindus — who otherwise have such major differences. In two days last week, 13 people — with representatives from all three religions - died here after consuming illicit liquor.
Most lived in a lower middle class locality of the city and worked for the municipal corporation. “I bought a bottle of liquor for Rs 100 on Wednesday night,” Rafiq, 30, one of the lucky survivors, told the police. He confessed he drank country-distilled alcohol daily. The brew in this particular bottle had gone bad, possibly due to the extreme heat the city has been witnessing.
Zeeshan, 24, a labourer, said he consumed liquor at the insistence of his Hindu friend, Achu. “Achu died today,” he lamented. Zeeshan recalled that around a hour-and-a-half after drinking the deadly brew, he began to feel awful. But he delayed informing his family for fear of being shouted at. Arif, 50, who works in the railways, was found unconscious next to the railway tracks the day after his drinking binge. His colleague Javed said Arif consumed hooch almost daily.
Mohammed Ishaq, the investigating officer, said the patients were reluctant to cooperate with the police for fear of their secret ‘vice’ being exposed.
Public demand for alcohol continues to rise. One salesman said business did slow down in the holy month of Ramzan. “But Eid and the days thereafter make up for it," he added.