A British Pakistani businessman has come up with an innovative way of responding to Shiv Sena’s threats against Pakistani artists and sports-persons visiting India.
Iqbal Latif, who owns 26 restaurants in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar, told jantakareporter.com that he had started an initiative whereby any Indian arriving Pakistan can visit his chain of Dunkin Donuts restaurants and enjoy free meals.
Speaking from Saudi Arabia, the London-based businessman said, “Many Indian come to Pakistan in Samjhauta Express and buses to Lahore and Islamabad. Badqismat hain ham log ki hamaare darwaaze band kar diye gaye hain ek dossre keliye (We are unfortunate that the our doors have been shut for each other). The purpose of this initiative is not to feed Indians as if they are incapable of affording their meals. The message I wanted to give is that there’s a huge acceptance for Indians in Pakistan and what’s being reported in India media is completely untrue.”
Latif said he was ‘gutted’ to hear that hotel owners had refused to provide accommodation to Pakistani family in Mumbai’s Bhindi Bazar area forcing them to spend their night at a railway station. He said the recent violent protests by Shiv Sena against Ghulam Ali and Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri had left him ‘incredibly heartbroken.’
He said, “In Pakistan, we Pakistani can free talk about establishing peace with India and an ordinary Pakistani always welcomes it. Nafrat kaa jawab nafrat se nahi diya diya ja sakta (An act of hatred can’t be reciprocated with another hateful act). The aim is to shower love and warmth to our Indian brothers and sisters when they arrive in India. The response has been phenomenal. Both Pakistani people and Indian tourists are coming to our restaurants and giving high five applauding this initiative.”
Drawing parallel with England’s relationship with the rest of Europe, Latif said that why the same was not possible between India and Pakistan.
Shiv Sena had stormed the BCCI office on Monday forcing the sports body to cancel their scheduled meeting with the visiting Pakistan Cricket Board’s chief Shahryar Khan in Mumbai. Khan had to make his way out for Delhi, where he told media that the Mumbai episode had shocked him.
Cricket’s world governing body also announced it was withdrawing its elite umpire Aleem Dar from the third India-South Africa One Day International match scheduled for Mumbai for fear of his safety. This also followed the announcement of two of Pakistan’s celebrated former cricketers, Wasim Akram to pull out of their duty as commentators for the third ODI due to security hazards.
Latif’s initiative has earned plenty of plaudits from both Indians and Pakistanis and he hopes that this will help him spread the message of peace between the two countries.