Puff goes the smoke, poof goes the law

Commissioner’s pledges to take action meaningless as shisha café operates openly

Oonib Azam September 11, 2015
While the administration often takes action against restaurants offering shisha, the café at the cattle market is openly operating with different flavours of shisha. PHOTO: EXPRESS


The Sindh government passes a whole lot of resolutions. Most of the time, it ends up making a mockery of its own resolutions.

A case in point is the ban on shisha in the province. Every few months, the authorities jolt out of their slumber to clamp down on the restaurants and establishments offering the hazardous smoking pipe. Hardly a few days after such raids, the establishments are seen back in business.

On September 2, The Express Tribune took up the issue of a shisha establishment opening up at the cattle market, despite it being banned in the province. When the commissioner was contacted for his version, he had expressed anger with the administrators and vowed to take action. The commissioner, Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, ended up inaugurating the market, along with its trendy shisha café, on Saturday.

The administration of the cattle market has turned a blind eye towards the huge billboards scattered all over the market, screaming catchy lines, such as: 'Get Ready PUFF Buddies!' and 'Come get PUFFED up with us in mandi.'

Around 600 yards have been provided to the renowned shisha café, De Lodge, which has finally kicked off its business, with scores of youngsters inhaling the double apple or watermelon flavours.

The ban

The Sindh government had banned smoking shisha in the province under Section 144 of the Pakistan Penal Code in March, 2012, following the Sindh Assembly's resolution against smoking shisha at restaurants or public places in May, 2011.

The young café owner, Sadiq Memon's nonchalant attitude towards the Sindh Assembly's resolution is evident the way he talks about his muscle power. He has a number of henchmen surrounding the café. Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said he has obtained a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the deputy commissioner's office.

An official of the market, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the café owner has the permission letter from the DC office. "A large sum of money has been invested in setting up this café," said the official, justifying the administration's reluctance to take action against it.

On the other hand, district East deputy commissioner Asif Jan, under whose jurisdiction the cattle market falls, categorically denied the issuance of any such permission. He said that it was impossible for his office to issue an NOC for an illegal activity. He passed on the responsibility to Malir Cantonment Board and said that the market was being operated under their management.

The commissioner also denied knowledge of any shisha café operating in the market. He told The Express Tribune that when he inaugurated the animal market, there was no such café there. He said that shisha was banned, assuring that that he will talk to the organisers to close down the establishment immediately.

Unhappy families, happy young men

Meanwhile, families visiting the animal market seem reluctant to visit the food court, which has been setup just beside the shisha café. An elderly man, Muhammad Sarwar, who had brought his children, said that everything in the animal market was perfect this time except the shisha café.  On the other hand, scores of young people were seen puffing the shisha pipe. Ali Imran told The Express Tribune that the market has become a nice place to hang out with friends. He said that till Eidul Azha, he plans to visit the market every weekend.

Meanwhile, Memon is planning to introduce the Afghani Boti at his café to woo the shisha lovers.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2015.


Jude Allen | 6 years ago | Reply @Farid: Hey Farid, loved your theory on reducing population :) Unfortunately that's not a realistic approach either. I still do feel that this is unnecessary battering over sheesha businesses whereas everything else from Cigarettes, pan, ghutka and more are sold openly. Its just seems to me like a really bad deal going on here. Agreed there is corruption but it starts from the top. So I think the first step for the GoP must be a sincere dedicated steps in true spirit - not some short term action for obtaining good PR mileage.
Farid | 6 years ago | Reply @Jude Allen: This is an article highlighting the government's inability to enforce laws and you respond by saying that they should enforce harsher laws. Please be realistic. Corruption has made the government ineffective in enforcing laws. BTW higher duties on cigarettes will only lead to smuggling and a decline in government tax revenue earned from duties on cigarettes. If anything we should be encouraging the consumption of unsafe food and drink because it will reduce the population and increase government revenues at the same time.
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