By Mansoor Faizy
KABUL: Foreign-style restaurants are increasingly becoming popular in Afghanistan particularly after the collapse of the Taliban’s regime. Following this new trend, a business tycoon, Bashir Halim, established a covetous British-style fast food corner of “fish n’ chips” Mr. Cod, right in the heart of the capital Kabul. This is perhaps the first of its kind in this country. This restaurant has been established by an Afghan-Canadian entrepreneur Bashir Halim—a name that will soon become synonymous to fast food service in Afghanistan. The restaurant is not only specious but also decorated totally in a different style from other restaurants. When capital flight is on the rise and none was ready to take the risk of investing a huge amount domestically, Bashir Halim hit the road and invested $400,000 in a bid to bring UK’s national food to Afghanistan. Besides being a pioneer of a new trend, Halim has made an upshot in the arm of national economy. Talking to Afghanistan Times, Halim said that his aim is to serve locals instead of foreigners. “The drawdown of foreign forces will have nothing to do with the opening of Mr. Cod as I am here for the service of the people of this land. I could have invested somewhere abroad, but perhaps it wouldn’t have amounted to serving Afghanistan therefore I decided to invest in my very much own homeland,” Halim said.
“It’s just a start as I have plans to invest more by extending Mr. Cod’s branches within three months in Kabul city. I have also plans to extend it to other provinces as well,” he said. Responding to a query how he sees Kabul, Halim said that it’s just like any other market and the success or failure is all about how you calculate, implement your plans. “Yes I believe it’s a time consuming job besides taking energies,” he said.
“Afghans are food-junkies, they like new tastes and new recipes that’s why I am sure, this new trend will attract many food-lovers,” he said. Besides being a businessman, Halim has a good political insight. Though, he painted himself an apolitical man, however he has a sharp political insight. He looked confident on peace gains, economic development and also the challenges he is exposed to, as a businessman. He called on businessmen to invest in Afghanistan. “I disapprove the idea that someone should take his/her money out from here and invest outside Afghanistan as investing domestically is the best service to this land and this people,” he said. “Until we start believing in our own strengths, positives and the land we live in, we cannot make any good headway in any regard,” he said. His vision on the strength and weaknesses of Afghan security forces is also worth interests. “The security gains made during the past 14 years are satisfactory. However, it’s highly irrational if someone starts comparing our army with international armies, because we are quite youngsters in all fields now. However what we have achieved in terms of security, trainings, equipments, yes I am content and call on others to be satisfied.