Café owners in Pakistan ask government to remove sheesha ban

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A group of girls and boys smoking smoke a water pipe, also known as a narghile, as they sit with friends at home in Islamabad May 8, 2014. (Reuters)
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Owners of sheesha cafés in Karachi are addressing a news conference at the press club on November 15, 2019. The smoking device in question can also be seen in the image. (AN Photo)
Updated 17 November 2019

Café owners in Pakistan ask government to remove sheesha ban

  • The prohibition was ordered by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2015
  • Café owners say a regulated use of sheesha can help the country collect Rs100 million in sales tax from Karachi alone

KARACHI: Owners of sheesha cafés in Karachi on Friday urged the provincial administration of Sindh to regulate the use of sheesha – a glass-based instrument used to smoke flavored tobacco – in line with the World Health Organization rules since that would “create employment opportunities, earn the government nearly Rs100 million in revenue and promote tourism in the country.”
Addressing a news conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC), owners and the legal counsel of All Pakistan Café and Restaurant Association (APCRA) said that provincial governments had not come up with any regulations despite clear orders from the apex court to prevent the misuse of sheesha.
“The ban on sheesha in cafés has led to its spread to people’s houses,” Syed Maaz Shah, the association’s coordinator said, adding: “A few days ago, two highly educated people, including a doctor, were sent to prison after police recovered sheesha from their car. A close relative of one of the detainees passed away due to cardiac arrest [caused by emotional distress] after she heard the news and saw their pictures plastered on social media.”
“When a thing is unregulated, it is misused. This is why we have filed an appeal in the apex court and are requesting the provincial authorities to legislate in accordance with the WHO regulations,” he continued.
Shah argued that sheesha was the modern form of hookah, which was used by people like Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, one of the founding fathers of the country, former prime minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and a noted politician, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan.
“I don’t say it’s not injurious to health. But it’s less injurious than cigarettes which are regulated,” he argued, adding that his association was taking an action against the cafés offering sheesha services to students.
“There are nearly 200 cafés in Karachi. Whereas the number of cafés in Pakistan’s other urban centers may accumulate to more than 2000,” he said. “We are ready to be regulate these places. In Karachi alone, the government can earn Rs100million from annual sales tax on such cafés.”
In 2015, the Supreme Court had asked provincial administrations to regulate the sale of sheesha while ordering to the closure of sheesha bars across Pakistan.
In July this year, the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services Regulation and Coordination had requested the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) to enact proper laws and allow sheesha smoking in the country.


Agreement signed to send 600 Pakistani medics to Kuwait 

Updated 04 July 2020

Agreement signed to send 600 Pakistani medics to Kuwait 

  • In May, Pakistan announced it was sending hundreds of health workers to Kuwait on request of the Gulf state
  • ‘Very happy Kuwait and us are helping each other in this crucial time,’ says Zulfikar Bukhari

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Kuwait on Saturday signed a government to government agreement for 600 Pakistani health care professionals to work in Kuwait, special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis, Zulfikar Bukhari, told Arab News on Saturday.
Earlier in May, Pakistan announced it would send hundreds of its health workers, including doctors and nurses to Kuwait upon the request of the Gulf state, amid surging rates of infections and fatalities related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“100 doctors, 500 nurses and paramedics as of now,” Bukhari said in a Whatsapp message, and added the numbers could be increased.
“Very happy that Kuwait and us are helping each other in this crucial time,” he said, and added it would increase the bond between the two countries.
The agreement was signed at the headquarters of Kuwait’s Health Ministry.
“Today, Pakistan and Kuwait inked G to G agreement on recruitment of health care professionals. It was signed by, Undersecretary, M/o Health, Kuwait and Ambassador Sajjad on behalf of OEC of Pakistan,” the Pakistan embassy in Kuwait announced in a Twitter post.
Last month local Kuwaiti media reported that Kuwait’s expat doctors stranded in other countries would be flown home in July, including from Pakistan.
Pakistanis make up one of the largest group of foreigners living and working in Kuwait.