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Himalaya

Day 24: Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi, Pakistan 
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At Rawalpindi, crossing the most famous road in the sub-continent. First laid across north India some 500 years ago.
Michael Palin - HimalayaTurning off the Grand Trunk Road we pass the high, blotchy walls of the old barracks behind which one of Pakistan's experiments with democracy came to a grim end, when Zulfikhar Ali Bhutto, a populist, secular prime minister, was hanged on the orders of General Zia, leaving Zia free to accelerate the process of Islamization.

At the heart of this nerve centre of the Islamic Republic, sandwiched between the barracks and the military headquarters, is the Murree Brewery, Pakistan's largest purveyor of alcoholic beverages.

Originally established in 1861, up in the Murree Hills, north of Islamabad, by Henry Whymper, brother of the first man to climb the Matterhorn, it's a place steeped in irony. Ninety-five per cent of the brewery's 450-strong workforce is Muslim and officially not allowed to touch the product their lives depend on. The owner, Minoo Bhandara, is a scholarly Parsee who writes regular newspaper columns and his business card notes that he was 'adviser to the President 1982–1985' (that same President who hanged Bhutto). His office, dominated by a 150-year-old mahogany table, feels as if it would be more at home in an Oxbridge college than a brewery.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 24: Rawalpindi
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Rawalpindi
  • Book page no: 50

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