ISLAMABAD: Just weeks after tensions between the nuclear-tipped, hostile neighbours escalated to the brink of war, it has been discovered that a vendor at the craft bazaar operating under the supervision of Lok Virsa — a subsidiary of the federal information ministry — has been found selling Indian-made craftwork.
To make matters worse, these foreign craftworks are sold at exorbitantly high prices compared to the local handcraft offered at the Craft Bazaar.
The matter came to light after the Lok Virsa management issued a notice to some of the vendors who feature in its craft bazaar.
“Through this notice, we inform you that we have received complaints against your store where foreign cultural handicrafts have been displayed,” read the notice addressed to Poonam Chand.
The notice added that this was not the first complaint against the store with the vendor having been warned at least twice before, once verbally and once in writing.
“Hence, you are through this notice you are informed again to display only Pakistani handicrafts in your store which depict Pakistani culture — which is the Lok Virsa mandate. Apart from this, any foreign handicraft linked to a foreign culture cannot be displayed,” the notice added and issued a warning to the store owner that further violations could result in eviction.
Some of the Indian craftwork found at the stall included the Rajasthani Chador and some artificial jewellery which is manufactured in India. In fact, some stalls appeared to be almost exclusively stocking foreign goods in a market meant to highlight indigenous craftwork and support local artisans.
Some shopkeepers of the bazaar, though, had pointed out that customers had objected to the poor quality of Pakistan-made craft works.
Renowned artisans and craftsmen of the country who were brought to the Lok Virsa to display their skills and craft said that it was the duty of the heritage museum to promote indigenous arts and craft to protect the livelihood of local craftspeople.
They further claimed that local traders procure smuggled Indian-made chadors for Rs800 but fleece buyers in the federal capital by selling it for as much as Rs2,000 to the customers and categorically refuse to offer any discounts or rebates when they are asked for it.
The craftspeople demanded that the government take notice of this situation.
An official of Lok Virsa, while speaking to Daily Express, said that vendors in the Craft Bazaar have been issued a notice on displaying and selling non-indigenous handicraft.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2019.