The US military continues to strain relations with the Pakistani government through ongoing and relentless drone strikes into sovereign territory along the Afghan border. And while you'd expect the people of Pakistan to reject all-things American in response to our efforts, it turns out that isn't the case.
Why you ask?
Shockingly, it's because of a growing Pakistani middle class' love of American fast food.
Before we dive in, I want to be clear that I'm not taking any sides or stances on the use of drone strikes, in Pakistan or anywhere else for that matter. I'm much more interested in the use of commerce, and food in particular, to bring people together.
With that said, let's examine a few reasons why the citizens of Pakistan have developed such an appetite for commercial western cuisine:
- Pakistani consumer spending has risen at a 26% average pace over the last three years
- Pakistan’s middle class has doubled to 70 million people in the past decade (and what better way to feed 70 million people than with a Fatburger?)
- Franchising is becoming a booming business due to effects of Pakistan's record power outages on factory operations
- The internet and modern media has driven acceptance of western culture and cuisines
According to Bloomberg, the number of foreign food franchises in Pakistan will “easily double” in the next two years as more coffee houses and casual dining outlets enter the country. While outfits like KFC, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut have been there for some time, smaller chains are entering the fray. Companies like Fatburger, Cinnabon, and Mrs. Field's Cookies have plans for rapid growth in Pakistan.
I've always been a big believer in the power of food. There is little in life that is more enjoyable than a great meal, and there are few things, if any, more effective at bringing people together. I used to argue with friends, at least partially in jest, that certain meals could end wars and bring peace to the middle east. And while Fatburger and Cinnabon are all well and good, if we want to do some serious food diplomacy, here are my top three edible ambassadors that I'd send to Pakistan and the greater middle east at large:
1.) Chick-fil-a - Those familiar with my posts on here likely know that I am a hardcore social liberal. Despite that, I simply cannot stop myself from eating Chick-fil-a. Others try to copy their take on the chicken sandwich, but none can match them. Shit, before we ship Chick-fil-a's over to the middle east, let's get a few more in Manhattan. It's not exactly fun going to my old dorm at NYU to pick up a sandwich
2.) Five Guys - I'm sure there are plenty of folks on WSO who prefer In-n-Out, but I'm not one of them. A double cheese burger with cajun fries from Five Guys blows any other fast food burger offering out of the water. Simply tremendous
3.) Di Fara Pizza - While not a chain, Di Fara" makes the world's greatest pizza. For those of you in New York who haven't had it, make the trek out to Brooklyn for it as soon as humanly possible. Grimaldi's is good, and Patsy's is great, but nothing compares to Di Fara. This is peace-on-Earth level food.
What do you guys think? What fast food joints would you want to export? Any thoughts on the power of food and commerce to combat strained relations between governments?