The politician gourmand

t was a power iftari. Politicians, journalists and foreign diplomats nibbled, nattered, and name-dropped. At the host’s table sat a quiet and surly attaché from some Central Asian country, another grinning but shy attaché from the Far East, a media mogul, and the Turkish ambassador. As uniformed waiters passed around orange juice, cola, and Rooh Afza, conversation meandered from the Kurds to Nawaz Sharif. The host then randomly shared anecdotes about Sharif’s love of nihari and McDonald’s.

The PML-N chief’s reputation as a politician gourmand is indeed legendary. At an event of rival politicians, the mention of Sharif’s fondness for food was completely unexpected. It was a conversation piece related for its alleged insight into the personality of a major political figure, indicating a personal association. But really, the host – whatever his past associations, he is now a politician of one of the splinter PML groups – could’ve picked it up anywhere off the country’s grapevine of urban legends.

Take this one: during a meeting with foreign investors, Nawaz was quiet and looked bored his brother Shahbaz asked the questions. When it came time for a break, Nawaz perked up and asked: shall we have nihari? It is an account that supposedly exposes the PMLN chief’s short attention span when it comes to meaty issues and his real priority – food. Nothing wrong with the latter really; even Shakespeare wrote in Twelfth Night:

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