LAHORE - Sale of liquor has boosted up ahead of New Year in the city, a hotel employee working in bar room told The Nation yesterday. An Excise and Taxation (E&T) Officer who supervises the sale of liquor in the city was also surprised on the increase of liquor sale ahead of New Year. Pakistan is a country with a majority of Muslim population who are not allowed to consume alcohol. Sale of liquor is only allowed for non-Muslims in the country who make not more than 8 per cent of the entire population. According to the Excise officer, fake permits are being issued in the names of Christians against which liquor is being sold in the capital city of Punjab.

Only a few people pay entertainment taxes to E&T, an officer told The Nation, adding that there are 10,000 to 12,000 points where dance and musical parties will be held but so far only few peoples have got NOC issued by the department. New Year celebrations will start on Thursday night in the city with aerial firing, wheelies and dance parties.

In the past, majority of the participants of these events were students but since educational institutions have been closed down, following the terror threats, there is less participation by youth seen this year, the sources add. Those who arrange such parties do not pay entertainment tax to E&T department, but they charge Rs1000-10,000 as entry ticket from youth and couples but do not pay tax or get NOC from the department.

“Last year, we had conducted several raids and collected entertainment tax from different influential holding such events,” said the E&T officer who wished not to be named. “We have formed teams whose members would visit in the city after midnight to inspect such events and collect taxes on the spot,” he added.

Despite the fact that the Punjab government has reduced the ratio of entertainment tax from 60 pc to 20pc of their savings, people are not willing to pay taxes, the officer lamented. Bookings at the leading hotels and guesthouses was closed a couple of days ago since people outside the city also visit Lahore to make their event ‘more beautiful’. Sources informed The Nation that a good number of policemen will perform protocol duty for the elites who are preparing for dance parties at guesthouses and farmhouses.

Leading hotels and motels in the town were near to close more bookings ahead of the New Year night. All the ‘party items’ are offered to the clients with guarantee of no-police-raid at some guesthouses located in Gulberg and Ghalib Market police precincts.

Sources said that managements of such facilitates run the business in connivance with the police. The police would raid and ransack the party only if the ‘concerned officials’ are not paid their due share, a party-organiser said. On the other hand, a police spokesman said: “Lahore police have finalised a comprehensive security plan to maintain peace and law and order on the eve of New Year. “More than 5000 cops will be deployed across the provincial capital.”