I think that writing about the pre merging era of Swat State, we should not ignore the social values and some negative changes in the life style of some of the upper class families. As for my personal observations, there were a few known alcoholics, mostly dependent on the cheap home-made wines because it was available on very low price. A short, stout man living in Mohallah Wazir Mall, prepeared this from brown sugar, apples and other ingredients. When I was in school, one boy in our neighborhood, who was some three years younger than me, used to bring it for his father who was a State official. We would knock at the door of that man. He would come out and checked the street. Then he brought a bottle. That was called in those days, ‘Half’ or ‘Addha’. Its price was two rupees only and kept the man going for two days.
One day I smelled the liquid and found it very disgusting. When I came into practical life in July 1961, I gradually discovered that this evil has become a status symbol in some circles, and in general public. The high officials were still clean and kept away from such gatherings. The local product, anyhow, got momentum and some farther areas of Bar Swat were active zones as for production was concerned. The new introduced hybrid apple accelerated the home made production on commercial scale.
Though according to the law and ‘Riwajnama’, wines were prohibited, both home-made and foreign. There were two points where one could got scotch whiskey and other high valued brands like White Horse, Cutty Saar or Black Label and Chivas Regal. But those were out of the reach of common men.
In the late 1960s, the use of spirits became obvious. Serious orthodox people were prophesying that it would bring down the whole system and troubled life of the people of the State. Now whether, the subsequent changes were the result of this evil or not, is debatable. I personally do not believe in it, because it was not a common thing then. At the most two percent of the whole population fell prey to it, which is almost negligible.
In short, we may say that the social values were changing, some very fastly and some very slowly. Previously people looked down upon the drunk, but by then, they ignored them. I was astonished to see that a Hindu shopkeeper in Shangla kept the stock in 1963-64.
While living in Afsar Abad, Saidu Sharif, we enjoyed many enjoying scenes of overdosed people but some were very disgusting also. Anyhow, someone may deny, but the evil was there, though on a very low scale. As it have already said, it was nominal, only two percent.
One evening one the Madyan road in Mingora, near the main graveyard, while coming from Swat Cinema, we saw a big black man, lying fully pass out on the tarmac, snoring like a tiger. People were throwing stones at him but he showed no reaction. He was Yaqoob Maseeh, and was recently inducted in Swat State P.W.D as sweeper. I appealed to the gathering not to stone him, and that he was a Christian. The people stopped and went on their way.