Pakistanis traders much sought after at trade fair

New Delhi, Nov 15: Even when the political heads of India and Pakistan speak about maintaining peace at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, there seems to be no such lines dividing the people at the sprawling Pragati Maidan fairground here.

On the first day of the India International Trade Fair 2013 that started here Thursday, even before the stalls could be properly erected, Indian fans of Pakistani garments and merchandise started flocking the pavilion. Businessmen who are coming here for years are happy with their sales over here.

“These are the occasions that bring the people from both the sides together. We look forward to many such interactions,” Zubair Ahmed Malik, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry told IANS about the importance of the trade fair.

There are around 87 stalls put up by businessmen from Karachi, Lahore, Multan and many more places, selling garments, crockeries, spices, ceramic work, shoes and handicrafts.

“I have participated in this fair for the last three years. People like Pakistani stuff. We get very good response every year,” Imran Zaffar told IANS. He is displaying his designer brand ‘Iznosh’ that manufactures salwar kurta with Pakistani designs.

He prefers to keep the price reasonable so that it is affordable for all. “I had been coming to these (Pakistani) stalls for the last seven-eight years. Prices over here are very, very reasonable,” enthusiastic buyer Sapna Jain said, while trying to choose a Pakistani kurta for herself.

Owner of high-end designer brand Braahtii, Huma Nassr was grappling with customers even before she could showcase her work in the stall. Her productions are colourful batik discharge printed and bold discharge printed Pakistani kameezes, kurtas, shawls and kaftans – and a lot more.

“I compete with the Manish Malhotras, Tarun Tahilianis and Sabyasachi Mukherjees of India,” Huma said laughingly while speaking to IANS.

She said she believes in building relationships with clients and has many in India who give order online and she delivers through DHL. Her range varies from Rs.4,000 to Rs.1 lakh and apart from Karachi she has shops in Dubai, Mumbai and the US.

Sapna Kavita Oberoi, a boutique owner who has been visiting IITF since 2005, was also busy catering to her old clients. With collections of cotton, chiffon, velvet sarees, salwar-kurta and trousers, she has kept the rates between Rs.300 and Rs.6,500.

A buyer in her shop said: “Pakistani garments are matchless. Indian salwar-kurtas are not as beautiful as they are!”

Zuber Hussain from Karachi was selling showpieces and household items made of onyx stones. He has been coming to India since 2005. “We do good business, but most importantly people over here are very good,” he said.

The bilateral trade between the countries stood at $2.60 billion in 2012-13. However, third party trade through cities like Dubai is estimated at $10 billion.

(Aparajita Gupta can be contacted at aparajita.g@ians.in)

IANS