Pakistan trade exhibition a hit in northern India

STORY: The second edition of the Pakistan trade exhibition in northern India drew large crowds on Sunday (February 17), as locals converged to buy Pakistan-made garments, food products and footwear.

The expo provided boost to bilateral trade relations between the two nuclear-armed nations.

The exhibition, which concludes on Monday (February 18), is being hosted in Ludhiana city of northern Punjab state.

Despite a combined population of 1.4 billion people and thousands of years of shared history and culture, cross-border trade between India and Pakistan is paltry – a legacy of three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.

“This is the second edition of the expo. We got a great response last year also and that encouraged us to organise this exhibition again. I have seen here that products from Pakistan have high demand here and people want to buy and use products from Pakistan. So, we think that this exhibition is the best way to encourage trade and cultural exchange between the two countries,” said a Pakistani delegate, Khalid Balhas.

Liberalising heavily restricted trade and investment flows has become a driver of peace efforts between the neighbours, whose fragile relations were shattered when Pakistani militants attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.

Both sides have trumpeted the improving atmospherics since November 2008, when 10 Pakistani militants went on a killing spree in Mumbai that left 166 dead and sparked fears of Indian military reprisals.

But for the stall owners in the exhibition, Indian consumers were always thrilled to purchase Pakistan-made products and the sentiment was always reciprocated in Pakistan too.

“Pakistani garments, clothes and other products are appreciated a lot here. And in the same way, any Indian exhibition in Pakistan draws large and crazy crowds. We have received a very good response here too. We are getting great customers and buyers. So, overall it’s going good,” said Anam Miyaz, a Pakistani designer.

The Indian government had recently revealed a 66 percent increase in trade with Pakistan last year.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, and both are now nuclear-armed powers.

Firing and small skirmishes are common along the 740-km (460-mile) LoC despite a ceasefire that was agreed in 2003.