Pakistan's Murree Beer Shares in KSE-100 Index

Murree Brewery Company (KAR-MURE), a publicly listed beer maker founded in 1861, has now been added to the Karachi Stock Exchange's KSE-100 index, according to media reports from Pakistan's financial capital Karachi. The Murree Brewery is one of the oldest public companies of the sub-continent. Its shares were traded on the Calcutta Stock Exchange as early as 1902, and is now the oldest continuing industrial enterprise of Pakistan, and among the top 25 performing public companies listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange.

The Karachi Stock Exchange KSE100 Index includes the top company from each of the 34 sectors on the Karachi Stock Exchange, in terms of market capitalization. The rest of the companies are picked on market cap ranking, without any consideration for the sector to make a sample of 100 common stocks with base value 1,000. As of Feb 26, 2010, the new index, with the inclusion of 11 new companies, makes up 91.11 percent of the total market capitalization of Karachi Stock Exchange.

Ten other companies, namely Security Papers Ltd, Pakistan Cables, TRG Pakistan, PEL (Pak Elektron Ltd.), Grays of Cambridge, Shifa International, PACE Pakistan, NetSol Technologies, Pakistan Telephone Cables and Clariant Pakistan have also been made a part of the widely watched shares Index, as of April 1, 2010.

The new entrants will replace First Habib Modaraba, Sigma Leasing, Fazal Textile, Nakshbandi Industries, Bannu Woolen Mills, Habib Sugar, Agriauto, Wazir Ali Industries, JS Global Capital, JS Bank and Silkbank Ltd.

After total prohibition imposed in the late 1970s under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and throughout 1980s under General Zia ul Haq, there has been a gradual relaxation that has allowed Murree Brewery to bring back Murree beer, vodka, gin and whisky in Pakistan. The Murree products are now available in legal liquor stores that operate openly in Karachi and other major cities. Although consumption of alcohol in public is banned, it is becoming increasingly available in private clubs and expensive restaurants. The company produces 660,000 gallons of beer every year and the 110,000 gallons of whisky that is stored in its cellars. A division of the company also produces and markets fruit juices in Pakistan. Its total annual sales last year were about Rs. 2.3 billion ($28 million). Murree's competitors include Quetta Distillery, as well as smuggled alcoholic beverages from the rest of the world.

In 2007, the Daily Telegraph reported that "the Islamic republic of Pakistan has won the distinction of producing the Muslim world's first 20-year-old malt whisky".

During the strict prohibition period, Murree Beer was produced in Austria for European markets and was available in various Pakistani and Indian restaurants in London, an enterprise which has since ceased since 2004.

The company is not allowed to export its alcohol products. However, Murree beer company is working on making it available in Indian and Pakistani restaurants in Britain under a promotion "Have a Murree With Your Curry" in collaboration with a licensee.

While Murree Brewery surprises some people and raises the eyebrows of others, this company is not alone in defying the generally known conventions of the Islamic Republic. A new class of entrepreneurs has emerged in Pakistan during the last decade who, in small but significant ways, have challenged the religious orthodoxy. They present a sharp contrast to the rising wave of Islamic radicalism that the U.S. and others view as an existential threat to Pakistan. And with many well-traveled Pakistanis importing ideas from abroad, they are contributing to Pakistan's 21st-century search for itself.

The new entrepreneurial outfits range from fashion apparel and cosmetics to upscale restaurants, personal fitness clubs and places offering men's hair transplants.

While most of the new entrepreneurs cater to Pakistan's young, urban consumers, there are a few who have found highly unusual niches for export markets. For example, Integrated Dynamics of Karachi designs, builds and exports unmanned aerial vehicles used by the US for border patrol duty on its southern border with Mexico. Recently highlighted by the New York Times, AQTH offers a more shocking example of a small, entrepreneurial Karachi company that caters to the $3 billion a year bondage and fetish industry in the United States and Europe. AQTH's mom-and-pop-style garment business earns more than $1 million a year manufacturing 2,000 fetish and bondage products, including the Mistress Flogger, and exporting them to the United States and Europe.

Here's a CNN report on Murree Brewery:

Related Links:

KSE Outperforms BSE, BRIC Markets

Pakistan's Brewery Thrives in Islamic State

Life Goes On in Pakistan

Media and Publishing Boom in Pakistan

Pakistani Entrepreneurs Survive Dowturn

Merry Murree

KSE-100 Index Charts By


Riaz Haq said…
Here's an interesting except from analysis of Pakistan, calling it the Next BRIC, by

...much like Russia, Pakistan also has been one of the top-performing stock markets over the past decade. Had you been able to invest in the Karachi Stock Exchange at the turn of the millennium, you'd be sitting on a much bigger pile of profits than, say, if you had invested in the “China miracle.” Pakistan offers yet another lesson in how gleaming skyscrapers offer little guidance in predicting future stock market performance.

Investing in Pakistan: Surprisingly Big

Teeming with 169 million souls, Pakistan is the world's sixth-largest country by population. That makes it smaller than Brazil , but larger that Russia, as well as the “Next BRIC” candidates, Turkey, Mexico, South Korea and Egypt. Bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the West, India in the East and China in the far Northeast, Pakistan is just about the size of France and the United Kingdom combined.

Pakistan's real per capita GDP of about $1,250 makes your average Pakistani slightly poorer than his counterpart in India -- and far behind the average in booming China. One third of Pakistan's population lives in poverty, and only half of the population is literate. Yet, Standard Chartered bank estimates that Pakistan has a middle class of 30 million that now earns an average of about $10,000 per year. And adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), Pakistan's per capita GDP approaches $3,000 per head. But take away that bit of economic affirmative action, and Pakistan's economy drops from the size of New Jersey's down to that of Alabama.

Investing in Pakistan: Edgy Relations with Uncle Sam

In the bad old days of the Soviet Union, Pakistan was a major U.S. ally. That relationship soured after the United States imposed sanctions on Pakistan after it refused to abandon its nuclear program. The “War on Terror” changed all that. After Pakistan ended its support of the Taliban regime in Kabul, American economic and military aid to Pakistan soared to more than $4 billion within three years of the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, American aid has played no small part in helping Pakistan's economy flourish over the past decade or so.

But as with most forms of handouts, gratitude is the least heartfelt of emotions. Anti-Americanism in Pakistan’s free media is just about as virulent as neighboring Iran. The Wall Street Journal’s Pakistan correspondent was ejected from the country after being charged with spying for the United States and Israel. The U.S. State Department advises U.S. citizens not to visit the country and has forbidden the families of its diplomats in Pakistan to visit since 2002.

Investing in Pakistan: A Solid Start to the Millennium

Economically, the first decade of the 21st century has been good to Pakistan. Thanks to economic reforms introduced in 2000 by the former Musharraf government, Pakistan has privatized $5-billion worth of assets, simplified its tax system and attracted large amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI) compared to its GDP. By mid-2005, the Pakistani economy was growing by 8.6%, and the World Bank named Pakistan as the top reformer in its region and among the top 10 reformers globally.

That changed abruptly with the onset of the “Great Recession.” Pakistan's ensuing balance-of-payments crisis and runaway inflation forced the IMF to step in, and offer a $7.6-billion emergency financing package in late 2008. To its credit, the Pakistani government kept its side of the bargain, maintaining its foreign exchange reserves above target and its fiscal deficit below. The Pakistani economic crisis has eased substantially, and in 2010, the economy is expected to grow at least 4%.

... The stock market index in Karachi has risen by more than 1,000% since 1999. And in 2002, Pakistan was the top-performing stock market in the world.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a BR report on changes to KSE-30 index:

The Karachi Stock Exchange has carried out the exercise of re-composition of KSE-30 Index for the review period from January 1 to June 30.

The re-composition has been carried out on the basis of the pre-requisites/criteria of selection of companies and as a result thereof, three companies would be affected due to re-composition, a KSE notice issued here on Wednesday said.

The three incoming companies are Fatima Fertilizer Company Limited, Engro Foods Limited and Jahangir Siddiqui and Company while the three outgoing companies are ICI Pakistan Limited, Lotte Pakistan PTA Limited and Nestle Pakistan Limited.

The recomposed KSE-30 Index, based on the prices of June 30, will be implemented with effect from August 15.

After re-composition, the KSE-30 Index companies include Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited, Oil and Gas Development Company Limited, Pakistan Oilfields Limited, MCB Bank Limited, Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Engro Corporation Limited, National Bank of Pakistan, Lucky Cement Limited, Pakistan State Oil Company Limited, The Hub Power Company Limited, Fauji Fertilizer Bin Qasim Limited, DG Khan Cement Company Limited, Attock Refinery Limited, United Bank Limited, Nishat Mills Limited, Fatima Fertilizer Company Limited, Engro Foods Limited, Arif Habib Corporation Limited, Habib Bank Limited, Bank Al Falah Limited, Bank Al Habib Limited, Attock Petroleum Limited, National Refinery Limited, Jahangir Siddiqui and Company Limited, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, Unilever Pakistan Limited, Kot Addu Power Company Limited, Millat Tractors Limited, Adamjee Insurance Company Limited and Dawood Hercules Corporation Limited.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an Express Tribune story about Bruce Willis' and Demi Moore's daughter caught drinking Murree beer from Pakistan:

RAWALPINDI: What have Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, underage drinking and Pakistan’s only beer maker got in common? It was the arrest of the Hollywood stars’ daughter in New York with a can of Murree Brewery’s beer last June that propelled the company out of obscurity and into the spotlight.

Inundated with emails asking about its beer, Murree Brewery seized on the free publicity to launch expansion plans outside.

Five months since the arrest, the 150-year-old company says it has lined up distributors that could see its flagship beer arrive on liquor store shelves in the United States and Dubai as early as the first quarter of next year.

“Demi Moore and Bruce Willis’ daughter gave us multi-million dollars worth of publicity by default. We plan to go to the United States and make a queue to hug both the daughter and the mother,” Sabih ur Rehman, special assistant to the chief executive, joked with Reuters.

Murree Brewery, established in 1860 by British colonial rulers to supply beer to their troops, is desperately looking for business overseas to hedge against its uncertain domestic market.

Prohibition was imposed in Pakistan in 1977, and non-Muslims and foreigners must obtain a government permit to purchase alcohol at designated retailers, mainly upscale hotels.

It also produces a line of juices and non-alcoholic drinks, but is prohibited from advertising its beer, whisky, gin and other liquor products.

Relying on word of mouth and an influx of thirsty diplomats and foreign investors, annual alcohol sales have grown an average of 20 percent over the past five years, reaching $26.8 million in the 2012 financial year.

The company’s stock is up 175 percent so far this year, trading at 160 rupees on November 13, far outpacing the 42 percent rise in the Karachi Stock Exchange benchmark 100-share index.

Despite its strong sales, the company’s net profit after taxes rose a mere 1 percent year-on-year to Rs525 million for the year ended June 30, due to an increase in alcohol taxes and rising labour costs....

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an ET report on Pak beer company profits:

Murree Brewery, Pakistan’s most prominent manufacturer of alcoholic products, has announced its earnings results for the quarter ended March 31, 2013 (3QFY13) and the nine months of the ongoing fiscal year (9MFY13).

The company recorded a profit of Rs175.94 million for the quarter, up an impressive 18% year-on-year (YoY). Its 9MFY13 profit, meanwhile, has registered a staggering 63% increase over the same period of the preceding year. The company has decided not to pay out any dividends with the result.

The company’s stock hit its upper circuit breaker in trading on Wednesday, after the results were made public.

Murree Brewery has the distinction of being one of the oldest public companies of the subcontinent. Its shares were traded on the Calcutta Stock Exchange as early as 1902, and it is now the oldest continuing industrial enterprise in Pakistan. It ranks among the top 25 performing public listed companies at the Karachi Stock Exchange, according to some accounts.

The company does not advertise its products, and is legally prohibited from exporting them. Nonetheless, it is valuable contributor to the economy, having paid nearly Rs314 million in taxes on profits alone so far this fiscal year, apart from the duties and taxes levied on the sale of its products. That figure is 74% higher than the same period of last year.

And while Pakistan forbids the consumption of alcohol by the Muslim-majority population, the company has recorded an impressive 20% increase in its topline so far this year, as compared to the same period of last year, while seeing gross profits grow 37% in 9MFY13 over the previous year. Higher ‘administrative and marketing’ expenses (up 14%) may point to increased marketing activity, ceteris paribus, which would explain the higher profits.

The company’s stock has been doing quite well. It offers investors a one-year return of 297.83%, with stock prices surging from Rs75.68 on April 24, 2012, to close at Rs293.19 on April 24, 2013.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Wall Street Journal story on Pakistani brewer's soaring profits:

In the heart of the military base in Rawalpindi, Pakistan is the thriving–and legal–Murree Brewery.

The 153-year-old producer of beer and spirits was established by the British and continues in what is today Pakistan. It survived partition and the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim-majority nation. It kept brewing during the sweeping Islamization efforts of the late 70s and 80s, when access to alcohol was restricted to the tiny non-Muslim minority. It has also weathered the doldrums of Pakistan’s economy, and is one of the most successful businesses in the country.

While Pakistan’s economy struggles to grow, Murree Brewery’s revenues and profits in the third quarter are up sharply, following a record-breaking year in 2013, according to the company’s financial reports.

The brewery is meticulous about its accounts, partly because it is acutely aware of its position in a country where alcohol is illegal for the majority of the population.

“We don’t give anyone a cause of point a finger at us,” says Major Sabihur Rehman, special assistant to the brewery’s chief executive, Isphanyar Bhandara. That extends from ensuring the company’s finances are perfectly maintained to the treatment of the employees, who belong to one of the country’s most active labor unions.

The brewery’s over 1,500 employees are nearly all Muslim. Many have worked for the company for decades, with sons following fathers into the hoppy air of the brewery. But Murree Brewery CEO Mr. Bhandara says that recently more people have turned down job offers when they realized that they would have to come into contact with alcohol – a sign that the company hasn’t been totally insulated from the growing influence of the religiously conservative.

The brewery is located at the heart of the military base in Rawalpindi, just a stone’s throw from Army House, the official residence for the chief of army staff, one of the most powerful positions in the country.

A series of rambling brick buildings reminiscent of northern England house the brewery and distillery. The only trappings of Pakistan are the patriotic colors on the main gate and the ornately painted trucks, that bring raw materials in and carry out beer and liquor.
It is an open secret that many in Pakistan enjoy their drink. Bootleggers do swift business supplying the westernized elite and there is a thriving trade in moonshine in the villages. News reports of deaths from homemade liquor are not uncommon.

But, the consumption of alcohol has become an increasingly inflammatory issue in Pakistan as the religious right has grown more vocal and violent.

“We are not doing anything that we should be afraid of,” says Mr. Bhandara sitting in his wood paneled office surrounded by photos depicting the brewery’s long history.
Riaz Haq said…
Murree Beer comes to America:

In a Park Avenue building in Manhattan, Murree has established a flagship office to head up the Murree Brewery USA initiative, which will incorporate a 30-barrel brewhouse system, producing an initial run of 6,000 barrels annually. It is unclear when the brewery will begin production.
Two years ago, Murree scored “multi-million dollars worth of publicity by default” when Bruce Willis’ daughter was caught underage with a can of its beer in New York’s Union Square subway station, and the case was chronicled in the tabloids. “We plan to go to the US and make a queue to hug both the daughter and the mother,” Rehman told Reuters.

Murree’s rather sad domestic growth market paired with the unexpected publicity seems to have launched the company onto a newly international playing field. In 2012 it began announcing expansion plans for new markets including those in the United States, China, India, and Dubai. The following year, Murree even made Forbes’ Asia’s 200 Best Under a Billion list. While some markets like India, whose population put down about two billion liters of beer in 2011 alone, are likely moneymakers, others veer off into the unknown.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Tells Pilots ‘Don’t Fly Drunk’. #Shaheen #Lahore #Crash via @WSJIndia

Pakistani aviation authorities have warned domestic carriers to ensure their pilots aren’t flying drunk after the investigation of an accident last week discovered the captain of the flight had elevated blood-alcohol levels.

Amjad Ali Toor, the director-general of Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority, said in a statement Thursday that medical tests showed the pilot in command of a Shaheen Air International plane that skidded off a runway in Lahore had an “unacceptable” amount of alcohol in his blood.

There were no fatalities or serious injuries in the accident, which involved a Boeing 737 with 114 passengers and seven crew members aboard. Shaheen Air didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment. Neither the airline nor regulators publicly named the pilot.

Alcohol was banned in Muslim-majority Pakistan in 1977, with some exceptions for non-Muslims, but is still sold illegally by bootleggers across the country.

On Thursday, the aviation authority called an emergency meeting with representatives of all domestic airlines and asked them to conduct “snap medical tests” on their crews.

Aviation officials said they don’t know whether the captain’s alcohol consumption caused or contributed to the Shaheen accident, which is still under investigation. “It may have been one of the factors, but it [being drunk] is unacceptable and dangerous on its own,” said one official.

State-owned Pakistan International Airlines, the country’s largest carrier, said Friday that it adheres to global safety standards and that crews are examined regularly.

“PIA is the only airline in Pakistan which is IOSA-compliant,” said airline spokesman Aamir Memon, referring to the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit benchmark.

A PIA pilot was sentenced to nine months in prison by a British court in 2013 for attempting to fly an aircraft from the United Kingdom to Pakistan with a blood-alcohol level above the limit allowed for pilots.

“This was one incident in five or ten years, he was punished,” said Mr. Memon. “We have zero tolerance for negligence.”
Riaz Haq said…
Dry #Pakistan’s alcohol industry is booming | TODAYonline. #beer #whisky

This is despite booze being banned for 97 per cent of the population

At Murree Brewery, home of Pakistan’s national lager, vintage copper boilers belch odorous fumes as they churn out 10 million litres of beer each year.

Hundreds of tonnes of gin and whisky are stored in climate-conditioned cellars, shielded from the pummelling sun.

Whether it’s beer produced by the crateful in Murree’s venerable red brick brewery — opposite the powerful army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi — or wine discreetly fermented in a bedroom, alcohol sales are booming in “teetotalitarian” Pakistan.

Strangers to the Islamic Republic may be surprised that the country industriously — and at Murree openly — produces such quantities of booze, despite it being forbidden to 97 per cent of the population.

But although Pakistani Muslims are banned from drinking alcohol, topers take advantage of the fact that the country’s minorities, mainly Hindus and Christians, face no such prohibition, and often snaffle up their quota.

So although officially only three million adults can buy alcohol, the country’s three breweries must work hard to please the nation’s enthusiastic tipplers.

Murree produces two cask-aged whiskies and a gin dyed an electric blue — not coincidentally exactly the shade of bottles containing its more internationally renowned counterpart, Bombay Sapphire.

Founded by the British in 1860 and now Parsee-owned, Murree brewery has been burnt down by Muslim protesters, temporarily shut down in an Islamist purge and and continues to survive prohibition, which was imposed in the 1970s.

Far from bowed, it flourishes as one of Pakistan’s most successful companies, with an annual growth of between 15 to 20 per cent, a rarity in a country regularly wracked by Islamist violence.

“There is no risk as such, because we are a very very legal entity -- one of the biggest taxpayers in this country,” said Major Sabih-ur-Rehman, a brewery executive.

“It is in the interest of everybody that the Murree brewery as a legal business should flourish and continue.”


With cans priced at 300 Pakistani rupees (S$3.90) on the legal market in a country where the average salary is 13,000 rupees, the brewery caters mainly to a Muslim elite willing to break the rules.

Mr Tahir Ahmed, a therapist specialising in addiction, who is worried about the rise in alcoholism, says that off licence stores “sell the booze to the people who can afford it, and only Muslims can”.

“The middle class is steeped in Islamic morality, but the upper class are getting richer, and it is a new norm that if you invite someone for dinner you will be serving alcohol. It is socially expected,” he said.

Well-stocked bars at birthday parties, dinners awash with Italian wines and discreet “car-bars” in the parking lots of wedding halls are supplied by a thriving blackmarket that also relies on vast foreign imports.
Riaz Haq said…
Inside #Pakistan’s #sex-toy industry. #dildo #fetish #leather #steel … via @TheEconomist

INSIDE a small, gloomy factory in a provincial city in Pakistan, two young men huddle over a grinding wheel. They believe they are making surgical instruments. But like many of the small, local firms manufacturing steel and leather goods for export, their employer has a new sideline. The nine-inch steel tubes whose tips the men are diligently smoothing are, in fact, dildos. “It’s just another piece of metal for them,” says the firm’s owner, who picks one up to show how his worldlier customers—all of them abroad—can easily grip the gleaming device.

This surreptitious set-up is inevitable. That a country as conservative as Pakistan exports anal beads, gimp masks and padlockable penis cages, among other kinky wares, would shock locals as much as the Westerners whose hands (and other parts) the finished products end up in. Fearing the response of religious hardliners, many of the companies involved do not advertise their wares on their own websites. Instead, they list the saucy stuff through Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce giant that acts as a middleman for many businesses in the developing world. Some officials demand bribes to allow the exports to flow. Others are simply unaware of the potential for mischief in, for example, a Wartenberg Pinwheel—a spiked disc that can be run across the skin.

The risk has so far proven worthwhile. A local maker of leather goods, one of 64 sex-toy suppliers based in the city that list on Alibaba, says that only a small proportion of its sales comes from fetish gear. But the company can earn as much as 200% profit on a kinky corset or policeman’s uniform, compared with just 25% on mundane jackets and gloves, its original business. To minimise the potential for outrage, production lines are arranged carefully, with only trusted staff putting on the final spikes and studs. To those who complain that the products the firm makes might encourage unmarried or gay people to fornicate—an illegal activity for both groups in Pakistan—the owner’s son has a ready riposte. “What if a gay person wears a [normal] jacket that was also produced by us?” he asks. The company does not know, and has no business knowing, how customers use its products, he says.

Less flexible businessmen may be missing an opportunity. Buoyed by the international success of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, an erotic film that was not released in Pakistan (although locals have posted plenty of spoofs on YouTube), global sales of sex toys have reached about $15bn a year. And recent developments favour Pakistan. Local firms cannot compete in rubber toys, as the latex they would have to import from China is subject to a hefty tariff. But Western customers increasingly opt for alternative materials, including metal, in the wake of reports that many Chinese toys contain a carcinogenic chemical. Back in his office, the owner of the metal-working factory invites your correspondent to feel how smoothly his labourers have polished a dildo. “You can use Pakistani steel for a long time,” he says, approvingly. “It rusts much later than Indian or Chinese.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Spirit of the law: #Pakistan’s 155-year-old Murree #Brewery shrugs off restrictions on its products. Capacity doubled since 2012. Profits up 100% #alcohol #beer #whiskey #vodka … via @TheEconomist

QUARTER-LITRE bottles of whisky whizz down a conveyor belt past Mukhtar Ali, a quality-control employee at Pakistan’s Murree Brewery, the only legal beer-and-spirit maker in this Islamic country. Nearby labourers pack Vat No.1, a cask-aged spirit, into boxes. An elderly man with a long beard tapes them up. Asked over the roar of imported German machinery if they have ever taken a sip of the amber liquid, each shakes his head. “It’s haram,” (meaning forbidden), says Mr Ali.

The 155-year-old institution causes some spluttering nonetheless. Founded for British troops of the Raj, it can sell only to the 3% of the 207m-strong population that is comprised of foreigners and non-Muslims. But many of its products end up in Muslim hands, as illustrated by the predilections of the former prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who ordered a nationwide ban on alcohol in 1977. “He was the biggest consumer of Murree in history!” says the company’s boss, Isphanyar Bhandara. Some employees do sneak drinks on the job, he adds.

Shareholders can toast a vintage few years for the firm, whose market capitalisation of $160m makes it one of the largest food and beverage firms listed on Pakistan’s stockmarket. In 2016, it doubled its alcohol-production capacity. Profits have risen by almost 100% since 2012, reaching a foamy $19.6m last year.

One reason is an influx of thirsty Chinese citizens, who clamour for alcohol as they deepen their country’s footprint in Pakistan. An increasingly relaxed officialdom also helps. Government employees work inside Murree’s fortress-like walls and hold the keys to locks on every vat of whisky. Yet in recent years provincial administrations have granted more permits to individuals and upmarket hotels to indulge. Elite Pakistanis, able to afford prices of around $3 for a can of lager, are a reliable source of demand.

It also helps that in 2009 the main sharia court ruled that the official punishment for drinking—80 lashes—was itself un-Islamic; the verdict had never been imposed. Yet Murree’s product remains a touchy subject. In 2016 the Sindh High Court temporarily banned all sales of alcohol in the southern province, a significant blow to profits as it accounts for 60% of Murree’s liquor sales. The case still hangs over the company.

To guard against such headaches in future, Murree is expanding its range of soft drinks, including Murree Sparklers, a sort of carbonated water. Freer liquor markets abroad also appeal. Attempts to brew Murree in neighbouring India (Pakistan’s law forbids exporting it outright) have foundered, the result of sour diplomatic relations. Yet the firm soon hopes to offer British citizens the chance, once again, to “have a Murree with your curry”. A worldwide distribution deal is being negotiated through a Czech brewery that produces its beer. “The Brits started it here, so why not?” says a tweed-jacketed executive, Sabih Ur Rehman, puffing on a Silk Cut cigarette.

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