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Pakistan Law Makers Attempt to Ban Shisha Bars

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Download It’s now illegal to smoke Shisha in the Southern Pakistan state of Sindh.

Shisha is a water-pipe, popular in many Arab countries, in which fruit-scented tobacco is burnt using coal, passed through an ornate water vessel and inhaled through a hose.

According the Department of Health and the Tobacco Control Collaborating Centre smoking a Shisha pipe is as bad for people as smoking tobacco.

Naeem Sahoutara reports from Karachi the ban has not been implemented.

A group of young men puff water-pipes at a famous Shisha bar in a wealthy suburb of Karachi.

What they are doing is illegal.

But Abbas Naqvi and his friends don’t seem to care.  

“I come over here daily from 9pm to 12 midnight, and on Saturday till morning. More than that we skip universities and have fun, fun in the blue moon.”

Like many countries in the world, Shisha smoking has become popular in Pakistan with thousands of bars in big cities.

Abbas says it’s a good place to relax.  

“Basically, it’s time passing. They come to smoke Shisha and have fun, they take Shisha for an hour or two to sit over there with friends and have fun. Like, at age of 23 or 24, youngsters go to office from morning to evening and then go to home. So, at night they come and sit over there, be relaxed with friends, make fun and go home. Next day office for them.”

Today many restaurants offer Shisha facility to families in addition to meals. All of them insist it’s harmless.

Babar Shah is the owner of the Deloung Shisha Bar.

“Many families with their children visit here. It’s not very dangerous.”

But according to the Department of Health, Shisha is as bad as smoking.

Dr. Javed Khan is an anti-tobacco activist.

“One hour of Shisha use is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes; various flavors are mixed with tobacco. According to whatever research conducted so far Shisha use is extremely dangerous to health and linked to diseases like lung cancer, health diseases, mouth cancer and certain other diseases like tuberculosis, transmission of hepatitis-A.”

A survey conducted three years ago found that 43 percent of male students in Karachi have smoked Shisha.

Javed Khan who Heads the Chest Diseases Department at Aga Khan University says tobacco is more dangerous than bombs.

“Well, if you just count number of deaths which took place as result of suicide bombing, road traffic accidents and other forms of drugs addiction. Just add all these and you will find them in few thousands but tobacco is killing 100,000 people. So major killings in Pakistan are still by tobacco.”

Under pressure from the anti-smoking lobby last month the Sindh Assembly passed a unanimous resolution calling for a ban on bars and restaurants offering Shisha service.

Muhammad Bachal Khan is a legislator, who moved the resolution.

“The young boys and girls are destroying their life due to open sale of Shisha you can't imagine how they use it in state of unconsciousness. They’re getting addicted to it. It’s not the lemon, apple but poison. We will not let our coming generations to follow path of destruction.”

The ban has yet to be fully implemented.

And hundreds of such bars in middle class areas are operating out in the open.

Last week owners of 150 Shisha bars formed an alliance to discourage the government from banning the practice but instead license the industry.

Jawwad Tariq is one of the bar owners.

“We already don’t sell it to underage children and if they put limits on our open hours we will follow them but we can’t stop because it will leave many people unemployed. The government should focus on control other things which are worse. We're an Islamic country but drugs and alcohol is being sold openly, why don't they stop it?”

But, legislator Bachal Khan says this time they will be tough.

“The law enforces a three years sentence on any use of any narcotic substance that is dangerous to health. To enforce the ban, police will conduct raids on Shisha smoking bars doing their business in public places and roads.”

Back at a Shisha bar, 42-year-old engineer Ansar Syed Ali says the government should not just single out Shisha.

“Rather you should wipe out all cigarettes Khokhas (cabins) in the country, that’s more injurious to health. Across the board either you finish it or don’t do it in bits and pieces, you’re not going to get it controlled in any circumstances.”



1. ornate: penuh dengan hiasan

2. unanimous: dengan suara bulat

3. puff: hembusan

4. unconsciousness: tidak sadar, pingsan

5. banning: melarang 

6. destruction: kehancuran, kerusakan

7. addicted: kecanduan

8. equivalent: sama

9. circumstances: keadaan

10. discourage: mencegah


1) What is shisha  where is it sold in Pakistan?

2) In which countries is it  becoming popular?

3) Why was it recently banned in Pakistan and what did shisha bar owners do about it?

4) According to Dr.Javed one hour of shisha is equivalent to what and what else  does it do to your health?

5) What did some people who smoke shisha say about the ban?


Last Updated ( Monday, 27 June 2011 18:15 )  

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