A Pakistani court has ordered the recall of all licenses granted to wine shops in Karachi to allow the sale of foreign or local liquor to non-Muslims during their festivals, citing apparent misuse. The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the provincial excise and taxation authorities to recall all licenses granted to wine shops here over ‘astonishingly high’ sale of liquor in the past three months at 11 outlets in the posh areas of Clifton and Defence.
The SHC Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah is hearing a petition against issuing licences to wine shops in Muslim- populated areas. The petitioner, Shaharyar David, had sought cancellation of the licences of wine shops in Defence and Clifton areas.
The court observed that the licenses were supposed to be issued for wine shops which were only meant to sell foreign or local liquor to non-Muslims during their festivals.
The court, while recalling all licenses of wine shops, observed Section 17 of Prohibition (enforcement of Hadd) Order, 1979 which does not allow sale of liquor throughout the year.
In Pakistan, the sale of alcohol is banned but the government has allowed licenses for wine shops which can only sell liquor to non-Muslims but it is no secret that the majority of customers at these shops are Muslims.
The court asked the excise and taxation director general about the spread of liquor shops in Karachi, particularly district South where 24 licences were granted even though as per the NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) and election commission records, no more than 59,000 non-Muslims resided there.
The director general submitted that the government had prescribed a monthly quota of 16 cans of beer and eight bottles each of 750 ml of Pakistani manufactured or foreign liquor for each non-Muslim in the province.
The Sindh government excise and taxation department charges a fee of 8 million rupees to issue a license to open a wine shop.