PESHAWAR, May 13: NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani has cancelled licences of alcohols to all categories of hotels in the province, leaving no place for non-Muslims to enjoy drinking.
The Excise and Taxation officials on Tuesday sealed bars of city's 5-star hotel - Pearl Continental and Greens Hotel - without serving any official notices, sources told Dawn.
"Three officials of the Excise and Taxation Department came to the PC Hotel and sealed the bar without showing any official notification," General Manager of the Pearl Continental Jehanzeb Khan said. He said that the hotel management had not received any notification from the government.
"When we receive the official notice then we will decide to go to the court against the government order or not," Mr Jehanzeb said. The sources said that the same team first went to Greens Hotel and instructed the management not to serve wine and liquor anymore to the non-Muslims and foreigners.
"These are non-issues, but the MMA government wants to divert the people's attention from real problems," said Afrasiyab Khattak, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
The MMA government must respect the Constitution which had permitted the non-Muslims and foreigners to drink in the country in private places, Mr Khattak added.
He said that under the Article 37-H of the 1973 Constitution the consumption of liquor by non-Muslims was permissible. Similarly, he said, under the Section 4 of the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hudood) Order, 1979, use of liquor by non-Muslims was not a crime.
Peshawar's alcohol dealers warned the cancellation of licences would certainly push prices of alcohol in the black market. "It is a typical supply and demand situation," a dealer said.
"We have seen gradual increase in demand but the supply of alcohol has certainly shrunk," he said. This, he said, could also affect the prices of foreign alcohol.
Price-hike, health, education and unemployment were some of the genuine problems before the MMA government, but it failed to deliver the goods, he opined.
An official handout stated that the NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani had cancelled licenses of alcohols to all categories of hotels including city's lone 5-star hotel.
He directed the Chief Secretary to issue necessary notification in this regard. The chief minister was prompted by complaints from various segments of society demanding a ban on liquor and wine being sold in the province.
The chief minister said the government was committed to purging society from all sorts of turpitudes including alcohols, obscenity, and vulgarity.
"We would not like to see that any evil might stem in society under the rule of MMA's government."