Two days after reports claimed that a local company is to set up a “liquor bar” at the Allama Iqbal International Airport after approval from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led Punjab government, the Chief Minister’s (CM) office stepped up to clarify the situation.
“A section of local media wrongly reported that the provincial government has granted a license to a company to sell liquor at the airport,” spokesperson to the CM, Dr Shahbaz Gill, said in a video message on Friday.
He further said that an under-construction five-star hotel near the airport had sought permission, which was duly granted after all the legal requirements were fulfilled.
“This is not something new and all the major hotels in the country are permitted under the laws,” Gill said.
کیا لاھور ایرپورٹ پر شراب کی اجازت دے دی گئی؟ pic.twitter.com/NHpkVwHlOp
— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@ShabazGil) January 17, 2019
“The airports in the country are managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Punjab government has no control over the Lahore airport so the question of awarding any such license does not arise,” the spokesperson concluded.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the Excise & Taxation Department, police and district administration have issued no objection certificates (NOCs) to Unicorn Prestige Limited, a company that had applied for a liquor license in the name of Royal Swiss International.
Reports further claimed that the company would be allowed to sell alcohol at a duty-free shop to be established within the premise of the Lahore airport while the ruling PTI lawmakers had “pushed for the issuance of NOCs”.
It merits a mention here that so far, only four hotels, including Avari, Hospitality Inn, Pearl Continental and Ambassador hotels, are authorised liquor sellers with L2 licenses in the city.
According to law, only non-Muslim citizens and non-Muslim foreigners are permitted to purchase or consume liquor. Pakistan even has its own breweries which officially produce only for non-Muslims or for export.
The subculture of liquor enjoyment belies Pakistan’s status as officially “dry” as 96% of Pakistanis who, according to official figures are Muslim, are not supposed to drink.