LONDON: A Pakistani restaurant in East end of London has prepared a special political menu related to Pakistani politics to attract customers but also to encourage political and democratic debates about important issues.
The “Captain’s corruption free political menu” is the brainchild of restaurant’s manager and proprietor Azhar Hussain – also known as Captain Azhar.
The restaurant has dishes under two categories. CPEC Lamb Specialities include U-Turn (BBQ Lamb Ribs); Dollar Baby (Lamb Leg Roast); and Tweet Sweet Rice (complimentary). Park Lane Chicken Delicacies include Panama (Chicken legs); Shaikh Talli (Seekh Kebab); Go Nawaz Go (Malai Boti); Dharna (Chicken Platter); and Mottu Gang (Chicken Platter).
The menu has been liked by customers who visit the restaurant which claims to specialise in cooking “dishes from Khyber”.
Azhar Hussain, a retired Pakistan army captain who migrated to London several years ago to set up his restaurant business, says he was inspired to prepare the political menu because his restaurant is mostly visited by those Pakistanis who wish to eat food with taste from “back home”.
Most of the customers visiting my restaurant have been discussing burning Pakistani issues with fondness and fervour and we have observed this over several years, he shared with Geo News.
He said that he carried out a survey with his customers whether it will be a good idea to prepare a political menu and the feedback he received was overwhelmingly positive. He says that the political menu doesn’t exist only on a piece of paper but he has accordingly added recipes in order to make the food go with the menu order.
He says that Go Nawaz Go, U-turn and Shaikh Talli are the popular dishes.
He added: “I ask customers to think carefully before placing a final order to ensure that they don’t take a U-turn and don’t withdraw their order later on. For Go Nawaz Go, I ask the customers to make up their mind too and they laugh. The idea is to encourage political debate which is essential for a strong democratic system in Pakistan. We encourage political participation. Its also important because we live abroad but our hearts and souls beat with Pakistan. Overseas communities take keen interest in affairs of Pakistan and they discuss Pakistan at the dinner table more than at any other place and enjoy their food.”
Captain Azhar, however, has a regret. He has not added any dish related to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in his menu. “The MQM has split into many groups and its division is on going. It would have been unfair to only add one faction of MQM while ignoring the other two. Once things are more clear, a dish dedicated to the MQM will also be added in the menu.”
Captain Azhar says that after Pakistan’s win against India, he will be dedicating a dish to Fakahar-e-Pakistan Fakhar Zaman who is himself from KPK and who visited the same restaurant ahead of Pakistan’s clash with India.
This isn’t the first time a restaurant has put on table Pakistani political menu.
Ten years ago, a café in Islamabad “Civil Junction” made headlines when it came up with an “emergency menu” to respond to Pervez Musharraf’s emergency. The items that made to the menu list were Musharraf Guespresso, Sonia Smoothie, Well-Done Opposition, Spineless Opposition, Activist Daal Deal, Dhoka Dahi, War Against Terror, Ba’ Qaida Gosht, ‘MQM’ or ‘Mutter Qeema Mirch, Sham Democracy, Military Intervention and so on.
Civil Junction was founded by Arshed Bhatti, a journalist-turned-civil activist, who went to the London School of Economics before deciding to open the cafe. The café was shut down a few months after its opening but it offered space to political activists and encouraged political discussions.