From Come Con Ella:
2012 has proved to be an interesting year for pakistan. alongside the staple flow of pessimistic news, one of its most successful businesses, murree brewery, has captured the imagination of the local and international press. for the latter in particular, the existence of murree brewery is a paradox. the telegraph opens on the line ‘pakistan is one of the last countries in asia where you would expect to discover a flourishing – and legal – brewery, especially these days’ in an article titled ‘ale under the veil: the only brewery in pakistan’. the economist follows suit on how an unlikely outfit in pakistan is flourishing under the banner ‘hope in the hops’. even the guardian cannot help itself with its description of murree brewery as ‘a raj-era oddity in an increasingly conservative islamic country’ under the more neutral title of ‘pakistan and india start new era of trade co-operation with a beer’.
Murree brewery, however, is far from an oddity and a contradiction. since its inception in 1860, the only period when it ceased productions was after bhutto’s declaration of prohibition of alcohol. a subsequent court order led to the resumption of operations on the basis that bhutto’s laws breached the rights of minorities. aside from this it has always enjoyed the support of the government, military or otherwise. the greater paradox perhaps is that a powerful leader like bhutto, who loved his drink, felt compelled to appease the religious right through prohibition. until his ban in 1977 alcohol was freely available in army messes, clubs and from licensed stores.
But that of course is not the pakistan of today.