Alcohol was served openly in ‘70s, says Nadeem Paracha to bleeding man on street asking for ambulance


(Disclaimer: this is a work of fiction. Learn to take a joke; you’ll live longer.)

Alcohol used to be served openly in Pakistan before the prohibition on the sale of alcohol in 1977. These were the views of columnist Nadeem Farooq Paracha as espoused to one Ashiq Hussein on a road in North Nazimabad, Karachi as the latter pleaded for an ambulance to be called to take him to the hospital.

“Shocked? Many are, as it is tough to imagine that in this puritanical country, libations used to be openly served at hotels and restaurants,” he said to Hussein over his blood curdling screams. “And, of course, at the ballrooms and cabaret halls that used to be quite active in cities like Karachi and Lahore.”

“I’ve lost a lot of blood,” said Ashiq Hussein, owner of a cloth shop, who was stabbed by unidentified criminals on his way home . “Please, there might be…”

“Some way to go back to the era? Perhaps. But first, we need to trust the military, who seem to finally serious this time when it comes to ejecting the religious militants out of this country. Not like last time,” he said. “Or the time before that. Or before that.”

“The state also needs alliances with entities like the MQM, who – imperfections and drills-in-kneecaps aside – represent a resilient Pakistan that can get us out of this mess vis a vis the religious lot.”

“What is that you say,” he asked after Hussein muttered something. “This is because you’d refused to pay up to the Muttahida sector commander? They’re still around? I thought they had all been taken out. Well, this is a pleasant surprise. They still have some game left, then.”

“I’ve changed my mind about you now. I don’t want to engage with you anymore. By blaming the MQM for your current condition, you are displaying an ignorance of the various faultlines of Karachi, which is so typical of outsiders,” said Paracha to the third generation Karachi native.

“Oh, and hippies,” he said as a parting shot to a now convulsing Hussein. “Hippies used to come here as well on the famous hippy trail.”