LAHORE – A local company is to set up a duty-free shop to sell alcoholic beverages at the Allama Iqbal International Airport after approval from the PTI-led government in biggest Punjab province.

Reports in local media suggest the Excise and Taxation Department, Lahore Police and the district administration have issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) to Unicorn Prestige Limited, which had applied for a liquor licence in the name of Royal Swiss International.

After the NOC was issued, a summary to set up the liquor bar at Lahore airport was sent to Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar for approval.

So far, only four hotels including Avari Hotel, Holiday Inn, Pearl Continental Hotel, and Ambassador Hotel, are authorised liquor sellers with L2 licences in Lahore.

According to the laws, only non-Muslim citizens and non-Muslim foreigners permitted to purchase and consume liquor. Pakistan even has its own breweries which officially produce only for non-Muslims – or for export.

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The subculture of liquor enjoyment belies Pakistan’s status as officially “dry”. That is, the 96% of Pakistanis who, according to official figures are Muslim, are not supposed to drink.