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Pakistanis urged to give up tea amid low foreign currency reserves

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It’s not going down so well.

People in Pakistan are venting their outrage after a government minister urged them to forgo their frequent cups of tea to help the economy.

From chaiwallah street vendors to elaborate tea ceremonies, the normally milky and sweet caffeinated hot drink is a revered national staple.

“I appeal to the people to reduce their tea drinking by one or two cups a day,” Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal told reporters Tuesday. “Because we also borrow money for the tea, which is imported,” he added as the country battles growing financial woes.

Pakistan is grappling with low foreign currency reserves needed for imports on items including tea. The country of 221 million is one of the world’s top tea importers, and according to a tweet from Iqbal, it spent almost $600 million on tea imports in 2020.

In May, the country banned imports of all nonessential luxury goods, describing…

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