Regional

In good spirits

Nov 10, 2017
Amitabh Bachchan has nothing on North Korea’s diplomats allegedly bootlegging in Islamabad. In Deewar, Vijay, played by Bachchan, needed both cunning and bravado to smuggle contraband, and bribes to officials and cops. After a point, however, at the residence of one of Pyongyang’s representatives to Pakistan, the police refused to play ball. Three police officers allegedly burgled the diplomat’s home and made off with $1,50,000 worth of scotch, beer, French wine and other ethanol-based inebriants.
 
It is rather improbable that a diplomat would personally consume three car-loads of booze and the well-planned theft shows the police were aware of the massive stash, worth much more in the liquor-free Islamic republic. But given the history of illicit trade between Pakistan and North Korea, the current cache of smuggled goods should keep the world in good spirits. In 2004, A.Q. Khan was accused of helping North Korea enrich uranium. The Supreme Leader of North Korea now claims that he has the Bomb and isn’t afraid to use it. Economic sanctions, however, have crippled the communist nation. Since “let them eat yellowcake (uranium)” is not a viable diktat in a socialist utopia, the North Korean state is forced to look for ways to earn.
 
On the face of it, the North Korean official had it easier than the liquor barons who made their fortune in prohibition-era America. A diplomatic licence and an all too human thirst provided an opportunity for the Korean communist: Turn wine into money to allegedly help his cash-starved nation. Past smuggling operations involving the two countries have threatened world security. This time, it will lead to the elite in Islamabad enjoying a Chardonnay. Those who can legally do so ought to celebrate with a drink.
 
Indian Express, November 10, 2017

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