Pakistanis an Islamic republic where alcohol is forbidden to 97 per cent of the population and drinkers can face 80 lashes of the whip under holy law – but in a move set to anger religious conservatives, Pakistanis poised to become an exporter of beer.
An official in the Ministry of Commerce in Islamabad has stated that the Economic Committee on Trade has allowed Pakistan to export beer and spirits from 2012.
India would be the largest market for our alcoholic products. It would be exported through non-Muslim enterprises to non-Muslim countries.
The change in law, which requires final approval by the Prime Minister, was welcomed today by Sabih-ur-Rehman, a retired army major who runs Murree, the Pakistanbrewery, in Rawalpindi. It is licensed to produce beer and spirits for consumption by foreigners and Pakistani minorities, including Christians and Hindus.
“The sky is the limit. If we get the permission we plan to distribute everywhere,” he said.
Alcohol exports were banned by Pakistan in 1977 by the then PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a move to favor Islamist groups.
“Pakistanis known for a lot of bad things but it is time for us to be known for some good things too, like our beer,” Isphanyar Bhandara, whose family owns the brewery, said.
Under Pakistani law, drinking alcohol is illegal for Muslims, although no one has been lashed for drinking since the 1980s.