A Tea That Makes Foes Turn into Friends; Pakistani Tea Stall Owner sells “Abhinandan Tea”

A customer poses next to a new tea stall in Pakistan Rahim Yar Khan city on March 12, 2019. The stall is inspired by a tea-drinking Indian pilot captured and released by the Pakistan army last month. The banner reads: “The kind of tea that turns an enemy into a friend.” (AN photo)

LAHORE: While India has hit a panic button in South Asia after the Pulwama incident by violating Pakistan’s airspace, sending its failed fighter pilots over the LoC on a killing spree in the dark of the night. Pakistanis have proven that they are a big hearted nation who will treat even their enemy with open arms.

The captured pilot Abhinandan was treated with warmth and was well looked after, despite him being sent on a targeted mission to spill innocent blood, just to feed the fire of an upcoming election. His viral video message after the capture and before crossing over to the Indian side had won many hearts.

This peace gesture is not only limited to the armed forces of Pakistan but the Indian pilot Abhinandan has been an overnight sensation over here and people didn’t show spite at the pilot, instead were in favor to send him back to India safe and sound to his family.

Though India has kept on pushing the war button with everyday indiscriminate firing along the border that has martyred a number of Pakistani’s and left many injured, the nation’s resilience is far from being bogged down by the hate tactics and drum beating neighbor.

One other proof of Pakistanis signaling peace is Abhinandan s picture, set up somewhere on a tea stall. It stems from the video, when Abhinandan after his capture took a sip of the tea offered and appreciated its taste.

Abdul Haq Khan had been running a restaurant selling richly seasoned lamb curry for years when he got a new idea while watching the news last month in Rahim Yar Khan, the main Pakistani city in a district of sugarcane plantations and mango orchards along the Indus river.

The news bulletin showed a video released by the Pakistan army of an Indian pilot captured after an enemy jet was shot down.

“The officers of the Pakistani Army have looked after me well, they are thorough gentlemen,” the pilot said into the camera as he sipped tea from a white cup.

1_3Tension between nuclear-armed neighbours and arch-rivals India and Pakistan escalated late last month as both countries engaged in aerial dogfights and carried out airstrikes against each other. The Pakistan army also captured Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, and after it released videos of the airman, he quickly became a social media sensation and was released two days later.

As Khan watched the story unfold on his TV screen, he decided to set up a tea stall at his restaurant and had a banner printed with the face of Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman splashed across it, his signature horseshoe moustache on full display.

“I never knew the power of tea until I saw a cup in the hands of Indian pilot Abhinandan Vardhaman, singing praises of the Pakistan Army,” Khan told Arab News via phone from Sadiqabad district in southern Punjab. “It was the cup of tea offered to him by our military officers with love that changed his ideas completely. He came here as an enemy but left as a friend.”

Abdul Haq Khan, the owner of a new tea stall inspired by Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, poses at his restaurant in Pakistan’s Rahim Yar Khan city on March 12, 2019. (AN photo)

Khan said this gave him the idea for a slogan for his tea stall: “The kind of tea that turns an enemy into a friend.”

People first arrived at the stall just to look at the banner and laugh but soon, many began to place orders for tea.

“In the beginning the people looked at the banner and laughed but then they also ordered a cup of tea,” Khan said. “I had to explain to them that if tea can make an enemy pilot your friend it can also end all the bitterness in your life.”

Abdul Haq Khan ( to the right), the owner of a new tea stall inspired by Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, sits with a customer at his restaurant in Pakistan’s Rahim Yar Khan city on March 12, 2019. (AN photo)

Barbers in several cities in India reported receiving requests to copy Abhinandan’s distinctive facial hair, but in Pakistan, it is the videos of him sipping tea that have caught the public imagination.

“Offering a cup of tea to someone with love can change his thoughts and I learnt that from Abhinandan,” Khan said.

Muhammed Latif, a customer at Khan’s tea stall, said: “I am not fond of tea but this idea of Abhinandan, this picture, attracted me and now here I am, sitting with my friends and enjoying tea.”


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