The first McDonald’s restaurant has opened in the city of Quetta in Pakistan, allegedly the home of the Taliban ruling council.
As such the Islamist militants can now scoff down Big Macs and McNuggets to their heart’s content. However it sounds as though the insurgents will be staying away from the new Pakistan location, with one fighter telling NBC News that “we don’t even consider it as food.”
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Taliban spokesman says McDonald’s isn’t food
McDonald’s has made an effort to attract local diners with an all-halal menu, and has even included a shawarma-cum-gyro wrap known as the McArabia. The new wrap will set you back almost $3.00, while you can make it a combo with a drink and fries for under $5.00.
Pork may be banned in Pakistan for religious reasons, but Sausage and Egg McMuffins still make an appearance. However the sausage is made from chicken.
Journalists asked senior Taliban commander Ehsanullah Ehsan what he thought about the arrival of McDonald’s to Quetta.
“Hahahaha, so you are asking me about McDonald’s food,” the TTP-JA fighter said. “Yes, I know McDonald’s and its food but we will never eat it. We don’t even consider it as a food. This isn’t our food … We live in the rough, tough mountainous areas and need energy and power to fight against the enemy.”
Tasteless and “too expensive” says another militant
A member of the Afghan Taliban said that he had tried McDonald’s food in Karachi, but criticized it as tasteless and “too expensive.” He said that Taliban fighters preferred to eat mutton and rice.However, he did say that it was “good when you are in a hurry and have no access to proper food.”
“We know it’s an American food company and our religious scholars have forbidden us from consuming any Western food and beverages,” the militant added, saying that he would likely go to McDonald’s Quetta but wouldn’t eat.
Quetta used to be a well-kept, peaceful city before the Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistan. The influx of refugees and militants fleeing the Soviets turned the city into a violent place.
Pakistan improving its militant problems
The city is capital of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, famed for its insurgency. However it is slowly stabilizing and terror incidents have declined by over 60% since last year according to the Frontier Corps.
India regularly accuses Pakistan of funding and supporting terror groups which carry out attacks on its soil. However official investigations have uncovered no evidence of a relationship between Pakistani authorities and terror groups.
In the city of Karachi the Rangers paramilitary force has been used since the 1990s to clamp down on terrorist and criminal activity. The regular police force struggled to control violent elements and the military-backed Rangers have had more success.
However human rights defenders have criticized the Rangers for heavy-handed tactics. Violent attacks have continued, with police and Rangers becoming targets for militants.
On the whole the situation is improving despite the challenges of operating in a city that suffers problems with basic infrastructure such as water and power. Another issue is that telephone lines sometimes don’t work, making it hard to report crimes or coordinate a response.
With that in mind the Rangers recently turned to WhatsApp, encouraging residents of Karachi to use the popular messaging service to report suspicious activity.