This has been long coming, I’ve tried to hold this back and to accept the reality as it presents itself to me but I can’t take it anymore. It's too much. The damage is too much and someone needs to speak up about this, and more frequently. I wanted to write about this when those 23 people died in Toba Tek Singh, but I didn’t. I was too afraid. I didn’t want to be labelled as this ultra liberal burger kid ranting about something that obviously I only want for my own selfish reasons because perhaps I want to party more than I already do. But that’s not true. I genuinely believe that the legalization of alcohol in Pakistan would be the smartest move for this country in the time we’re living in and I have my reasons.

This place would be so much more lifelike and likeable if our politicians had the courage to face the fundamentalist mindset and for once became a little pragmatic. I’m not a fan of listing down things, especially when I’m certain I’m not doing anyone a favour, but for this, it only makes sense that I do. So here I go.

Tourism

Of course this is the first and least controversial reason that comes to mind, so I’ll just begin with it and get it out of the way. Tourism is the very first reason why alcohol needs to be legalized in Pakistan. Sure it's legal for foreigners but that doesn’t make much of a difference because no tourist comes to a country to drink in hotel bars. They want to go out, roam around and have fun. This is just my opinion but I think other than Pakistan perceived as being unsafe for tourist and travellers by other countries (courtesy of our beloved news media), the decisive factor when it comes to a tourist choosing to go to some other country over Pakistan is that Pakistan is a “dry” country, which automatically creates the impression that it’s a fun hating POS* country; and this impression is not entirely baseless, because dry countries do tend to be boring AF. With the banning of alcohol, you ban not just an entire industry but an entire culture, which brings me to my second point.

Culture

I recently went to Dubai, which is also happens to be an Islamic country, but despite that, you can find alcohol very easily. Yes, they have a list of their own barbaric laws and public drunkenness is illegal, but at least they have a night culture. The whole country is run by expats and the locals are seldom seen, which means culturally Dubai has very little to offer but it is still a major tourist destination of the world. Imagine if Dubai were as stuck up as our country and had banned alcohol. That’s right, you’re imagining Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and all those other dry shi**y countries you’d never would want to visit unless you have to.

But think about this, because alcohol is illegal, we have no night clubs, or bars.

Which means we as a society are missing out on so many things live entertainment has to offer. There is an entire industry and with it all the possible job opportunities and professions that can’t ever materialize. Stand up comedies, open mic-nights, live music, the list goes on. People in Pakistan usually go to places, eat, pay the bill and leave. There are no places in Pakistan where you could just sit, relax, order a drink and listen to live music and interact with random fellow countrymen. Our outdoor entertainment is limited to eating, going to the movies every once in a while or shopping. That’s it. There is absolutely nothing you can do loosen up in public with the public. You have to alienate yourself with your surroundings and drink behind closed doors, which brings me to my third point.

Alienation

Pakistani society is terribly polarized, on one end we have the ultra liberals (some might say, like myself) who drink, get high, like to party, socialize and have sex and on the other we have the masses, whom we generally perceive as the religious bunch, the ones that don’t drink, dropped out of schools and praise Mumtaz Qadri. But is it so hard to believe that there are some very smart progressive people belonging to that social strata that we usually paint with the same brush? We seldom get to interact with them because we don’t have the kind of places that would allow such interactions to happen. There are few places where you can have a drink and have a conversation with a complete stranger. Perhaps this point may not be as valid as I’m making it out to be, but on some level, alcohol has a major part to play in the social cohesiveness of a society.

Industry

The alcohol industry could be a good source of income for the country. Murree Brewery, an enterprise that has miraculously survived to this day, is the oldest enterprise in Pakistan and continues to generate a decent amount of tax revenue through local sales and exports.

Yet because of the ban, the enterprise has to face a lot of obstruction and can’t thrive the way it should. Apart from that, there is always the highly dangerous threat of fake alcohol being sold by bootleggers, or the malice of home made alcohol. If alcohol were legalized, our government would be able to regulate and scrutinize alcohol sales ensuring that the alcohol sold is safe while gathering a significant amount of much needed tax revenue.

An instrument to diffuse extremism

Pakistan needs to take some serious measures to diffuse the ideology behind radicalism and extremism. Ever since Pakistan became an Islamic republic the state has been very awkward about how to go about becoming a progressive state having one foot stuck in Islamic fundamentalism. The inherent fear of the mullah is a sad reality; even now as I write this I fear I might get abducted on my way back from wherever I may or may not work. Because of this paranoia, the state stands impotent against barbaric laws that allow the blatant discrimination/persecution of minorities in our country.

There is no other word for it but awkwardness. Everyone knows what the right thing to do is, but no one dares raise their voice against the extremist.

Perhaps the pragmatic move of legalization of alcohol might be a first step to diffuse some tensions. Perhaps this one singular move might give a taste to our lawmakers of the kind of fulfilment they might feel having done something worthwhile for this country. Something which will go down in history. But that’s not going to happen anytime in the future. I only pretend to be an optimist.

Do I really feel writing this will make a difference? No. At least not in the foreseeable future. This is purely a rant. Because that’s what liberals in this country can do. Rant.

This rant has been long overdue. Let's not let them snatch our right to rant away from us at least.