PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Even the threat of death cannot deter one 30-year-old entrepreneur here from his appointed rounds supplying the Pakistani elite with expensive contraband Scotch.
The bootlegger employs an elaborate scheme to conceal his business, renting a private house that doubles as a secret warehouse and hiring teenage motorbike drivers to deliver his supplies. Such inventiveness is a requirement in this line of business: to hide from the police, who want his money; the Taliban, who want his head; and his family, who would disown him.
Alcohol products have been illegal in Pakistan since the 1970s, when religious groups reacting to a spike in consumption persuaded Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to institute a ban.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Bhutto silenced the moralists and softened the prohibition when, addressing a crowd of constituents, was asked if he drank. He responded by saying, “Yes, I do drink wine, but at least I don’t drink the blood of the people.” Continue reading