How was it not petty and ludicrous to mount an attack on cheese imports in the first place?

A pizza-less Naya Pakistan: Cheese, the greatest villain in Pakistan’s economic tragicomedy

Cheese is like Batman; it may not be what the country ‘deserves’, but it is what the country needs.

Faraz Talat September 14, 2018
In the same month that the country discriminated against one of its economists for his religious beliefs, our cheese imports appear to have come under jeopardy. Coincidence?

Certainly none of us expected karma to come knocking at our kitchen door so soon.

When the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) assembled a few weeks ago, cheese was not expected to be revealed as the greatest villain in this economic tragicomedy. The session was held to discuss ways on how to avoid another International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. No, 15th time is not the charm!

It was in this session that an economist – who is decidedly not Ahmadi – made an interesting observation:
 “You see how much cheese is coming in this country from abroad? Market is full of imported cheese. Does this country, which doesn’t have dollars, deserve this, that it is importing cheese?”

Cheese is like Batman; it may not be what the country ‘deserves’, but it is what the country needs. If you think the nation is at the verge of mass-rioting at present, wait until you force them to give up pizza. This is not the Naya Pakistan we signed up for, and nobody is willing to trade in their Happy Cow for a sadder alternative. The very thought makes us cheddar…I mean shudder.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters have accused Pakistani cheese lovers of being petty and even unpatriotic; surely preventing an IMF bailout is more important than your weekly dose of imported mozzarella. This may be true, but how was it not petty and ludicrous to mount an attack on cheese imports in the first place?

Ammar Rashid – leftist politician and a rare voice of reason in these tumultuous times – took the liberty of doing the math on Twitter. Pakistan imports a total of $3.34 million worth of cheese every year, which is roughly 0.01% of our current $18 billion deficit. Suggesting a one-year ban on cheese imports to help reduce the deficit, is like draining your swimming pool with a kitchen sponge.

If the EAC’s best plan for the time being involves putting the country on a cheeseless economic diet, perhaps we ought to start choosing our economists on merit rather than religion. If Donald Trump had sacked an advisor for being Muslim, we’d have a strong opinion about it. But for now, this is the unusual recommendation of our mostly Sunni economists.

You may ask why it matters whether the economists who made us an international laughingstock were Sunni. Well, it matters because we’ve decided to create an ethnocentric theocracy where every official is called out by his sect, before his merit and character are brought into consideration.

Perhaps the anti-cheese economists are right. We don’t “deserve” imported cheese, not because we don’t have dollars, but because we value dead milk more than we care about equality and justice for all regardless of their religion.

*This is a work of satire intended for humour purposes. Stop taking life so seriously for a moment and laugh a little!*
Faraz Talat

The writer is a doctor based in Rawalpindi and writes about current affairs and societal issues.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

Facebook Conversations


Abdul moiz | 1 year ago | Reply | Recommend Pakistan can become a great cannabis exporter (Heck it can use imported cheese to make cheesabis) - so lets import more cheese and use it the way it is meant to be used
Parvez | 1 year ago | Reply | Recommend Picking a nonissue to make some brownie points .... not really Faraz Talat's style.
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