Free meals for visiting Indians, says owner of Dunkin’ Donuts
After the Shiv Sena put paid to a concert in Mumbai by renowned ghazal exponent Ghulam Ali, threatened to disrupt the launch of a book by former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, and a visiting Pakistan family was denied hotel accommodation, the franchise owner of Dunkin’ Donuts in Pakistan has responded by offering free meals to Indian tourists.“The idea was to respond to all the hatred around the country and the community perpetuated by the Shiv sena in Mumbai with love and care. We want to tell the people of Mumbai and India that it’s high time they stop homogenising all people from the community as terrorists,“ says Altaf Ahmed, regional manager (Islamabad) for international confectionary Dunkin’ Donuts.

As part of a new promotional campaign across 26 franchises in three cities -Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore ­ Dunkin’ Donuts is offering a free sandwich meal with a trademark donut throw in Indians on short-term visas who drop by for a bite.

Named `Peace, Amity and Understanding’, the campaign aims to spread the message of peace, especially in the light of recent incidents in Mumbai that have cast a shadow on relations.

First, it was the cancellation of Ghulam Ali’s concert in the city due to the Sena’s objection to a Pakistani performer. Ali went on to perform in other Indian cities including New Delhi and Lucknow. Then came the much-publicised objection of the Shiv Sena to Mumbai hosting the launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove, which saw Sainiks blackening event organiser Sudheendra Kulkarni‘s face with paint and threatening to disrupt the launch at the Nehru Centre in Worli.

Mere hours before the event, the Sena called off their plans after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened.

Last week, a family from Pakistan which had come to Mumbai to pray at the Haji Ali Dargah for the well-being of their ill child was forced to spend the night on the street as every hotel and lodge they approached refused to take them in. This, despite the family possessing valid visas.

“We are peace-loving people who want to build good relations with all nations. But if so much prejudice is shown against our people in a metropolitan city like Mumbai, how do we even have a conversation about peace?“ Ahmed added.

He said the response has been great, with most Indian customers pleasantly surprised by the gesture. “Several customers apologised for what happened to the Pakistani family and said it should not have happened. We are happy we could reach their hearts through food.“

Individual customers with a 21-25 day short visa can avail of a meal worth Rs 450, comprising a sandwich, soft drink and a donut, while a couple will get a Rs-1,000 combo meal that includes two donuts, sandwiches and a drink. Till now, Dunkin’ Donuts outlets in these three cities claim to have served over 2,500 meals to Indian customers. Sources said the chain’s sales have gone up by 30 per cent since the offer was introduced on Monday.

The offer will last till Friday, and the company is now planning to expand the promotion to customers with longer visas. “Soon, Indians with longer visas will be given a free meal if they show their documents,“ said Ahmed.