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Manufacture of Alcohol in Pakistan

MG is an air warrior and a global traveler well as an amateur astrologer who loves to visit and explore new places.



Pakistan is an Islamic state, but the leadership is pragmatic and has allowed alcohol to be manufactured and marketed. The Murree Brewery is the oldest in the subcontinent and its shares are regularly traded on the Karachi stock exchange. During my last visit to Pakistan in 2018, while sitting in the Marriott in Islamabad, I had the privilege of enjoying a glass of Murree beer which is a Pakistani product.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not like other Muslim nations as some aspects of its life are quite different from orthodox Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen. One aspect concerns the manufacture of alcohol. Pakistan is the only Muslim country that has a functioning brewery that is churning out various types of beer and whiskey. In a country that is 97% Muslim, this brewery is a success and its shares which are listed on the Karachi stock exchange have performed consistently well for over a hundred years.

Its products are exported to India and Bangladesh. In 2014, the company established a flagship store on Park Avenue, in Manhattan, NYC. In 2013, it was named by Forbes as one of Asia's 200 best companies.

Isphanr Bhandara

Isphanr Bhandara


Origin of the Brewery

In 1856 a need was felt for a local brewery for officers of the East India company army posted in the Punjab and Northwest Frontier. The family of General Dyer decided to open a brewery at Murree, a hill resort in Punjab. Later General Dyer from the same family, known as the butcher of Amritsar ordered troops to fire on an unarmed crowd and over 400 were killed. The Brewery came up in 1860 and with help from experts from Scotland started the manufacture of beer.

In 1900 the company went public and it is on record that its shares were listed on the Calcutta Stock exchange in 1902. In the meantime, a Parsi family settled in Punjab took over the management of the Brewery. The Brewery continued to function at the hill resort, but a paucity of spring water forced it to shift to Rawalpindi in 1941.

The company was listed on the Karachi stock exchange and it is on record that its shares have performed consistently above the national index for well over 100 years.

!947 and Formation of Pakistan and Prohibition

The creation of Pakistan in 1947 had no effect on the Bhandara family who were the owners of the brewery and things continued as it was earlier. Whiskey and beer were available in most clubs and restaurants in Karachi and Lahore and other places. This continued till the early seventies when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto took over as Prime Minister of Pakistan

Bhutto was fast losing support among the populace and in the mid-seventies of the last century, he brought in prohibition. He assumed this step will make him popular among the masses, but he was overthrown by his protégé General Zia Ul Haq and hanged as a common criminal.

The introduction of prohibition affected the Murree brewery and production fell and hard times came on the Bhandara family.

Lifting of Partial Prohibition and Introduction of Permits

General Zia Ul Haq for all his reputation as a strict Islamist was, in reality, a pragmatic man. He realized the importance of opening the brewery and lifting of total prohibition. This he assumed would be in the interest of Pakistan as it would cut down on bootlegging and illegal smuggling of alcohol from India and Scotland.

The General lifted prohibition and introduced a permit system. This was freely available to non-Muslims and even Muslims could get the permit on medical grounds. Foreigners were also issued permits. The Brewery now expanded production and the new Managing director Minoo Bhandara brought in new technology and products.

In 2007, Murree became the Muslim world's first brewery to make 20-year-old malt whiskey named "Rarest Malt Whisky". Local laws ban Muslims from drinking alcohol. However, the CEO of Murree claims that "99 % of his customers are Muslims in Pakistan.

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Last word

Pakistan is the only Muslim country in the world to have a functioning brewery. Despite strict laws, the Murree brewery and its products have carved a name for themselves in Pakistan. The company's cellars hold over half a million liters of Malt whiskey in stock.

The company has made a foray into India and in 2013 it granted a franchisee to a Bangalore company to market the Pakistani beer in India. The government of Imran Khan has now gone one step ahead and in 2020 they have given the license to a Chinese company to manufacture beer in Baluchistan.

Pakistan is in a piquant situation. It continues to give lip service to prohibition and the concept of alcohol being abhorrent for Muslims but at the same time permits the manufacture of millions of liters of beer and whiskey. The explanation given by the Pakistan government is that beer and alcoholic drinks are for the Christians and Hindus who actually constitute 3% of the population. Obviously, this 3% population cannot consume the millions of liters and in practical terms, alcoholic drinks including whiskey and beer are available all over Pakistan at a few select openings. There is also an active bootlegging industry that transports whiskey and beer even to the remote corners of the tribal regions in the Northwest frontier. The penalties if you are caught are stiff but the lure of alcohol is so great that thousands are ready to brave the dangers.

I only hope that in due course of time Pakistan will get out of its hypocrisy and become like a normal country and follow countries like the United Arab Emeritus, Dubai, Morrocco, and Turkey.


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

May peace be with you. Do not get worked up in literary discussions.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

Excellent sentiments, god bless you.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

Thank you, Misbah, you know to see how you look you need a mirror. I have not understood what is offensive in this article. A statement of fact on the manufacture of alcohol should not get you worked up.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

Thank you Misbah, so nice you commented. I have just stated a fact that China is sanctioned to set up a brewery in Balochistan. What is wrong with this? Who drinks this is beside the point and as you are aware in both India and Pakistan there is a lot of piferage.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

Thank you Peggy for commenting.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on May 11, 2021:

Absolutely Misbah, this is just a reminder for them. We are here to support our nation and country.

I don't know why people forget their times so easily. They are sabotaging the country's reputation.

These are some reasons that why the entire world cannot come together on one platform. One can go so far in hatred and make fun of the nation of others. That's why global human equality is utopic.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on May 11, 2021:

Misbah, I am with you. Whatever you have written, is notable.

And emge, I feel sad for your tactless thinking. Don't you have any other work to do instead of spreading false news about Pakistan? I wouldn't say that no Muslim has ever drunk alcohol.

Like murder is a serious crime in all countries. But can you say that there has never been a murder in India, China, the United States or any other country? No, you can't say.

And Tom I don't know why you are showing the rough edge of your tongue. Have you ever been beaten or deceived by a Muslim? Pipe down kiddo, Anyone can commit deception and crime, it doesn't necessary for him to be a Muslim. I hope whatever you have said about the Muslim nation is a slip of your tongue.

And dear Mike, thanks for sharing your experience. But sorry to say, you can't judge the entire muslim community on the basis of your useless experience.

Sorry for being harsh, but freedom of speech doesn't mean hurting emotions. I alwasys believe in the law, "every action has a reaction".

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 11, 2021:

The beer produced is to fulfil the requirement of Chinese nationals working in Pakistan. I wonder if you know something about China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 11, 2021:

I would never have guessed that alcohol is produced in Pakistan in a Muslim country. Thanks for the education of that fact. Theoretically, Christian Baptists are not supposed to drink alcohol, but we know plenty of them who do imbibe.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

Thank you Pamela for your comment.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 11, 2021:

I am surprised to learn alcohol is manufactured in Pakistan. This is a well-written interesting article and it certainly does seem hypocritical for this Muslim country to manufacture alcohol.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

Hi, Mike so nice you commented. Your experiences add to the value of my writing. Yes, it's true, millions like in Egypt consume alcohol in Pakistan even in the heart of Taliban dominated FATA region.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

Thanks, Tom, yes it is the fact that the Pakistan economy is controlled by 22 families and In a way, I also agree that it is a fake Islamic nation that keeps on going against the tenets of the Quran by persecuting people like the Ahmadiyyas and minorities. Abbas Gokal, unfortunately, ended in jail for fraud. In 1970 Pakistan had less population than Bangladesh, but now its population is way ahead of Bangladesh, its GDP is also lowered and above all, it's on the terrorist watch list of FATF. I really feel sad for Pakistan, so many friends there and they support my writing, that is the silver lining.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on May 11, 2021:

Olusegun, thank you so much for commenting.

Readmikenow on May 11, 2021:

Excellent article.

I was in Egypt a few years ago. Some Egyptians took be to a bar in the desert. When I asked them why they were drinking alcohol when their religion forbid it. One man laughed and said for the same reason Christians have girlfriends before they get married. He said to just relax and enjoy myself. I did, and it was fun. Nothing is as you think it will be.

OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on May 11, 2021:

I enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing

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