Eat, Drink and Die in the Month of Ramadhan

Forty-one people dying after consuming contaminated liquor on the seventh day of Ramadhan in the country blamed for exporting Islamic terrorism throughout the world! The news sounds extremely bizarre nevertheless true. With over 95 per cent Muslim population what were these people doing in such an auspicious month.

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SOROOR AHMED

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Forty-one people dying after consuming contaminated liquor on the seventh day of Ramadhan in the country blamed for exporting Islamic terrorism throughout the world! The news sounds extremely bizarre nevertheless true. With over 95 per cent Muslim population what were these people doing in such an auspicious month.
This is not the first such incident to take place in the recent past in the country founded in the name of Islam – in fact on 27th of Ramadhan exactly 60 years ago. The tragedy occurred in Karachi, the city dominated by ‘Muhajir’ – a term used for those who migrate for the cause of Islam.
Incidents like this is a pointer to the fact as to how much divided the Pakistani society is. One set of people is locked in a do-or-die struggle for the cause of Islam – even taking on the ‘mighty’ United State – while another set is busy indulging in all sorts of merry-making and that too in the holiest of months.
Pakistan’s problem is its ruling class. Right from the founding-fathers to the present dictator many of them have not been averse to booze. Not only they themselves used to drink but would prefer to spread the culture. When Musharraf took over as country’s dictator international media carried reports about his choice of whisky and his pet-dogs.
Former dictator General Yahya Khan, during whose rule Pakistan got dismembered in 1971, was a known drunkard and his successor, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto publicly conceded that he used to drink. Noted Pakistani civil servant, Qudratullah Shahab, in his autobiography, Shahabnama, narrated an interesting incident. He said that while he was on official duty somewhere in the field-work he witnessed a unique incident, which can only happen in Pakistan. An army Colonel took out from his bag a piece of sandwich and then started taking drink and that too in the month of Ramadhan. Nothing unusual till then. All out of a sudden his orderly became furious. He took out his gun and ordered his boss to stop drinking and eating lest he would be shot. The embarrassed Colonel then put everything into his bag and fled from the scene on his jeep leaving behind the orderly. Shahab then wrote: that Colonel later rose to become the President of that country –General Yahya Khan. We often hear news of people being shot in Pakistan for publicly violating Ramadhan.
Barring the period of General Zia-ul-Haque, who ordered crackdown on the liquor-barons and industries, there is hardly any period in Pakistan politics in which drinking was strictly prohibited. Just like here in India where the ruling class encourages the sale of liquor for the sake of revenue there is no dearth of Pakistani rulers who adopted the same policy.
In the Indian state of Bihar the Nitish Kumar government on July 1, 2007 implemented a new liquor policy under which there will be one liquor shop after every three kilometres all over the state. This will not only increase the number of liquor shops manifold but will also double the state revenue. The saddest aspect of the whole story is that Bihar’s excise minister is an elderly Gandhian lady, Sudha Srivastava, niece of Late Lok Nayak Jaya Prakash Narayan. And the man who is publicly highlighting the new liquor policy before the media is none else but the state’s excise secretary, Amir Subhani, a fully-bearded ‘devout’ Muslim associated with Tablighi Jamaat. Two decades back Subhani was all-India civil service topper and the Muslims then felt proud of him. Now they definitely feel let down.