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People boil over Ahsan’s suggestion to have fewer cups of tea

Ahsan Iqbal attracted public criticism following his suggestion for people to cut down their tea consumption as part of the effort to reduce a rising import bill

KARACHI, Pakistan

Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal has caused an uproar on Twitter following his suggestion to fellow countrymen to cut down their tea consumption as part of the effort to reduce a rising import bill.

The appeal from the senior minister came after it emerged that the nation consumed tea worth Rs83.88 billion in the fiscal year 2021-22. The federal budget document for the outgoing fiscal year showed that Pakistan imported Rs13 billion worth of more tea than the last fiscal year.

In the fiscal year 2020-21, Rs70.82 billion was spent on the import of tea. The suggestion, however well-intentioned, did not go down well with the people, who have a strong love for the hot beverage, no matter the time of year.

Reham Khan, the former prime minister’s ex-wife, objected strongly to the suggestion. “First, half a roti and now we should reduce our tea consumption too?” she asked.“There can be no messing around when it comes to tea, sir,” she said.And the memes, as is always the case with Pakistanis reacting to some development, were aplenty.

“So what do I do then? Die?” wrote one user.Another asked the Twitterverse what they think of a “half cup” of tea, in a cup whose diameter had literally been cut into half.A third likened tea to laying eyes on their “beloved”, saying that it is something he just cannot do without.

Then there was one who was of the view the move would be a “violation” of their rights.Another questioned why the minister was then wearing “imported tie, suit and glasses”.It was also pointed out that tea conglomerates have brought in major investment to the country, besides their contribution to unemployment. There was no need for name calling though.

Although the overwhelming majority was not too fond of the idea of curtailing the number of cups of tea in a day, one user did seem to think it is not an unfair request.“It is not a bad thing if we cut down on our tea consumption,” she wrote.Another seconded the opinion, saying, “it’s hot anyway”.

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