It may well be a dry New Year’s for Pakistani party-lovers — thanks to an unprecedented shortage of alcohol in the black market.

Though the sun shone bright today after three days of rain and gloomy weather in the federal capital and brought a smile to many faces, whiskey woes continue to trouble quite a few.

The sale of liquor is banned in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, but there is no stopping bootleggers though the length and breadth of the country.

They operate from homes in posh localities in cities like Islamabad and their neighbours too never seem to mind the transactions.

Sales peak during weekends, when it is not unusual to spot even women driving up to buy liquor and crates of beer.

Bootleggers, more often than not, hail from the majority Muslim community.

Fewer cars have been pulling up at a popular “booze joint” in Islamabad’s posh Sector F6—1 to buy alcohol from one of the city’s best-known bootleggers.

Johnny Walker Black Label, one of the most sought after brands, is being sold for up to Rs. 9,000 a bottle.

Popular New Year party hosts have cut down on guests because of the shortage.

The story is more or less the same in Lahore.

“The price of Black Label, one of the most popular brands of whiskey among Lahoris, has doubled since a consignment destined for this city’s black market for alcohol was confiscated in Islamabad a month ago.

A bottle of Black Label is now selling for Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 9,000,” read a report in the Express Tribune newspaper.

“We’ve been getting Chivas Regal but that is now running short too,” the daily quoted a party planner as saying.

A bootlegger in Lahore described the shortage as unprecedented: “A bootlegger who has been supplying liquor to people’s houses in Lahore for 10 years said that alcohol shortages were common at this time of year, but this time the shortage was severe.”

An organiser of an event management company that is hosting its first event at a farmhouse in Bedian tonight told the Express Tribune that he had asked friends in Islamabad to bring him “the good stuff” from contacts in the capital.

“We are stocking up on beer and red and white wine here,” he said.

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