Rumours that Karachi has run out of alcohol have circulated over the past week and bootleggers are reportedly only selling to regular customers.
One of the city’s most popular bootleggers - who generally sells by the bottle - says the rumours are unfounded. However, another high-end bootlegger who sells alcohol by the case, said otherwise, adding to the uncertainty.
Four licensed wine shops were burned down in Karachi in the riots on Friday. According to the owner of a wine shop, the damage may have been extensive. “There is cash inside the store as well as stock, so they must have taken quite a hit,” he said. The Boat Basin one was looted but not burned.
There are generally no guards or police security in front of wine shops. Police vans are often spotted near the stores but are not there for security. Wine shops are officially closed on Fridays and public holidays.
There are liquor stores in most commercial areas in Karachi, particularly in the older parts of the city. Legally, the stores are only allowed to supply locally produced alcohol to non-Muslims but the clientele is varied and from all income classes.
“A senior officer from the excise and taxation department sent us a verbal order,” said a dealer. “We were closing them for a few days anyway. The situation is very vulnerable for us.”
There are 45 liquor retailers and wholesalers in the city. Wine shops close on Friday as a matter of policy.
The owner of Kohistan Wine Shop, located at Boat Basin, said dozens of crates were stolen. “I can’t say anything about the estimate at the moment.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.
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