Pakistan reveals soft side to India with trade show

Published: April 12, 2012
Terrorism should not take business hostage: Tariq Puri, head of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan

Terrorism should not take business hostage: Tariq Puri, head of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan

NEW DELHI: From gourmet chefs to fashion houses showcasing muslin suits on the catwalk, Pakistan will unveil a trade fair in New Delhi on Thursday to reveal a soft side to traditional foe India as commercial ties between the nuclear-armed rivals begin to bloom. 

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.

The show opens days after President Asif Ali Zardari made the first visit by a Pakistani head of state to India in seven years and it serves as the backdrop to talks between their trade ministers, who will open a border trade post on Friday.

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 2008.

“Terrorism should not take business hostage,” said Tariq Puri, head of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan which is organising the trade fair.

“We are going to give you the soft image of Pakistan,” he told Reuters in an interview.

“When you will enter the hall, you will feel good. You’ll say ‘OK, we had a totally different view about Pakistan, but here you see Pakistan so contemporary, so fashionable, so design-oriented’.”

Time for tea      

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

Ahead of the fair, an Indian government official talked proudly to Reuters of how India had granted visas to more than 600 Pakistanis to showcase anything from furniture to kebabs at the show, which runs until Saturday.

Among the expected visitors are tycoon Mian Mansha, listed by Forbes magazine as Pakistan’s first billionaire, as well as Pakistani singers and film stars.

“A year ago, I would not have imagined that we would do such a big show in India,” Puri said.

Less than one percent of India’s merchandise exports are sold to Pakistan, in terms of dollar value, but in September the two sides pledged to double bilateral trade within three years to about $6 billion.

India welcomed a decision by Zardari’s government, in the face of some domestic opposition, to grant India most favoured nation status in November, which ended restrictions that require most products to move via a third country.

Pakistan expects its neighbour to reciprocate by liberalising its visa regime for Pakistanis, as well as by slashing the bureaucratic red tape that strangles the sale of products from textiles to cement.

On Friday, Indian Trade Minister Anand Sharma and his Pakistani counterpart, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, will be on their common border at Wagah, between the Pakistani city of Lahore and India’s Amritsar, to open a trade post.

This week, businesses are also hoping to strike a clutch of deals including one on Indian machinery to extract rice bran oil and another for India to export tea to Pakistan. For years, Kenya has been Pakistan’s main supplier of tea.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose government has been rocked by corruption scandals, has targeted lasting peace with Pakistan as a cornerstone of his political legacy.

But decades-old disputes, especially the fate of the divided Kashmir region, cast a shadow over talks. During his meeting with Zardari on Sunday, Singh pressed him to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

Singh raised the continued freedom of Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistani Islamist suspected of masterminding the attack. India is furious Pakistan has not detained Saeed, despite handing over evidence against him.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Apr 12, 2012 - 3:33PM

    Let each & every door be opened for each other. Let’s watch Indian News Channels & let them watch Express News, Dawn News, Dunya News, Geo & ARY News. Let’s open our Entertainment channel for each other. Let’s open our universities, colleges, schools for each other. Let’s collaborate in the field of Economics, Business, Films, Media, Education. “Let’s open our border to visit each other home’s and share stories of the last 65 years, when we missed each other.”


  • hyderabadi
    Apr 12, 2012 - 4:27PM

    Indian and pakistani cultures are not the same.

    Indian culture goes back several millenias whereas Pak is only some 60 years old.


  • Khalid Mahmood
    Apr 12, 2012 - 4:44PM

    The agenda of the PPP governments has always been very clear. Restrict national industrialists, bring in cheap foreign goods and foreign corporations to bring down whatever is left of industry in Pakistan thus strengthen the stranglehold of landed interests. Zulfiqar Bhutto nationalized even competitive industry driving Pakistan capital abroad and since then investor confidence continues to suffer. Until Pakistan experiences a genuine national capital industrial development it will always remain backward and feudalistic. To keep Pakistan feudalistic serves the interests of the PPP which is a party dominated by waderas.


  • Abdul Qayyum Bhatti
    Apr 12, 2012 - 4:46PM

    Dear Editor:

    How could you say that “Pakistani militants attacked the Indian city of Mumbai 2008” in the third paragraph of the news story. You must have documented evidence to claim that otherwise your story would be regarded as an effort to malign and defame an Islamic organization. Indian investigators could not provide any documented evidence except verbal claims as Pakistani politicians toed the Indian cues without seeking any evidence. Indian Government did not allowed the Pakistani Lawyers to see Mr. Ajmal Kasab, the sole survivor of the Mumbai attacks. There are many theories and one of them is that the guy named as Ajmal Kasab belonged to India based militant organization “Indian Mujahideen” and If Indian Government will allow Pakistani access to Mr. Ajmal Kasab, he might have spoken “truth” which could be disastrous for Indian Policy to tag Pakistan as militant state.
    Dear! You should have also mentioned the denial of the “blamed organization” which you did not which in turn points to lacking in the story. This is very sad to read that you have not justified with your story but promoted only “anti Pakistan” angle of the story which the “Reuters” use to do. If this was the view of the “Reuters” then where is your “EDITORIALSHIP”?


  • Khalid Mahmood
    Apr 12, 2012 - 4:47PM

    We can show soft side to India but it would never relent on restricting the waters that is the due share of Pakistan under the Indus Basin Treaty.


  • Junaid
    Apr 12, 2012 - 4:53PM

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

    How do you know they were all Pakistani? What proof do you have? To this day, it remains an allegation on Pakistan! As a Pakistani paper, please refrain from quoting such things!


  • Truth Teller
    Apr 12, 2012 - 4:56PM

    Time to make permanent Peace between two countries enough of bloodshed!


  • ProudPakistani
    Apr 12, 2012 - 5:22PM

    @hyderabadi…Ironically the word “India” itself is taken from “Indus” & that Indus valley civilization comes under current Pakistan….Pakistan’s history is more ancient than Indian…Examples are Mohenjodaro, Harappa, & Mehrgarh all those Indus valley ruins that are existing in today’s Pakistan….Any such ancient civilzation examples from India?? Nahh!!
    Pakistan’s culture is much more vibrant & colorful dear… :)


  • Chulbul Pandey
    Apr 12, 2012 - 5:44PM

    Pakistani culture older than Indian? Ha ha :D Don’t kid yourself. Just because those old civilization origin places fell under your border at the time of partition does not change the history itself. Something to think about, dear!Recommend

  • ALi
    Apr 12, 2012 - 5:56PM

    “fashion houses showcasing muslin suits on the catwalk”

    Muslin suits? Fashion designers in Pakistan are showcasing extra nude/vulgar suits….No loose clothing there!


  • Faesal
    Apr 12, 2012 - 6:45PM

    Pakistani militants attacked the
    Indian city of Mumbai 2008.

    Express Tribune, Wah G. Do you have any proof that they were Pakistanis apart from only allegations coming from india? If you have it, give it to Uncle sam and recieve 10$ million.
    and you don’t even mentioned the denial of accused parties. junk paper


  • Babloo
    Apr 12, 2012 - 6:53PM

    Even the Pak government has officially accepted that the militants who attacked in Mumbai came from Pakistan. The Pak foreign minister at that time made a public statement on that, as demanded by India and rest of the world.


  • gp65
    Apr 12, 2012 - 7:40PM

    @Abdul Qayyum Bhatti: ” You must have documented evidence to claim that otherwise your story would be regarded as an effort to malign and defame an Islamic organization. Indian investigators could not provide any documented evidence except verbal claims as Pakistani politicians toed the Indian cues without seeking any evidence”

    The area where evidence is missing is that LeT and Hafiz Saeed were imvolved. Geo news interviewed Kasab’s parents who wer ePakistani and even Pakistani government now admits that the militants who attacked WERE Pakistanis. It just says that they were non-state actors and not guided by ISI.


  • jagjit sidhoo
    Apr 12, 2012 - 8:20PM

    @A R Khan Yusufzai: Your views are like a breath of fresh air however you need to be a lot more vocal to convince some of the commentators . We have tried hate for the last 64yrs look where it has got us time to try something new.


  • Faesal
    Apr 12, 2012 - 10:27PM

    so you agree with him on that but disagree whatever else he says. funny indians
    Remember, He said it too that indians are involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan.


  • bangash
    Apr 12, 2012 - 11:17PM

    Pakistan was formed in 1947, the culture and history of Pakistanis goes back thousands of years. Few silly Indians claim monopoly on everything in subcontinent.


  • s shah
    Apr 13, 2012 - 1:02AM

    @A R Khan Yusufzai: I agree with you. This Pakistani has indeed missed India for 63 years. We want peace and no more bloodshed. We have tried war and we have tried terrorism and it has got us nowhere and in fact has destroyed our own society and culture.


  • Truthbetold
    Apr 13, 2012 - 1:23AM


    “The area where evidence is missing is that LeT and Hafiz Saeed were imvolved.”

    There is a ton of evidence linking LeT and the Mumbai attack. A lot of these came out in the two trials, that of David Headley and the N.Y. case, in the US. All the western countries have blamed the LeT based on their own intelligence data. In fact, the Pakistani government did arrest several LeT conspirators in the attack, for example Lakhvi. The CIA has a lot of evidence about the involvement of LeT that has been handed over to the Pakistanis.


  • Bombay Dude
    Apr 13, 2012 - 2:11AM

    @bangash: errr……do you mean the originals of Mohenjo Daro later became Pakistanis then you sriously need to go back to school. Dravidians civilisation who were primarily into farming of Mohenjo Daro migrated to Indian subcontinent due to climate change thereby leaving the old city of Mohenjo daro and Harrapa. what you call muslim Pakistani now are the converts of hindus living in current Pakistan. Those who claim are descendant of Arab or Persia, your answer lies in your origin. So all those ignorant and educationally challenged Pakistanis, please for sake of humanity and debate, do your research right. Pakistan is nothing but a current gifted land to converted muslims of Indian sub continent.


  • dv sikka
    Apr 13, 2012 - 5:09AM

    Indian culture is the extension of Indus civilization. Culturally they are same. The unfortunate part is the hate policy that the British injected which led to the division of India. The British left behind a legacy of Divide and Ruin. IT is time that everybody realises that today’s India and Pakistan are twins seperated at birth. We lived together till the partition politics divided us. Give up the hate and embrace each other. Even today a big portion of each country are being wasted on military preparation. The sad incident in Siachin should wake up everybody to come together.


  • Cosmo
    Apr 13, 2012 - 7:49AM

    @Abdul Qayyum Bhatti: with thoughts and theories like yours
    Pakistan has no hope!


  • Cosmo
    Apr 13, 2012 - 7:50AM

    Wake up from the slumber and smell the coffee.


  • Apr 13, 2012 - 8:15AM

    Whatever soft side there is in Pakistan is inherited from India. There is no USP with Pakistan is there.

    Being a Islamic state, the trend and style started to change after partition.

    India retained its traditions, values and culture. I am afraid the same didn’t happen in Pakistan. Pakistan banned Vedic-origin festivals like Basant. It banned Indian movies, fearing Indianization of Pakistani culture, which didn’t work due to the common linguistic heritage inherited by Pakistan.

    Currently Pakistani culture is a mishmash of the tolerant, vibrant cultural traits inherited from India and the traits inherited from Islam of the Arabia.

    The rot is so deep that some find that Pakistanis cant even digest the fact that Yoga owes its origins to the area that is now Pakistan. They say its Hindu-culture. Something, they could have used to generate Tourism, create a Brand is let off, as the popular culture in Pakistan abhors its tolerant, rich Hindu past.


  • Apr 13, 2012 - 11:43AM

    @jagjit sidhoo:

    Please ignore the 5%…majority of them you’ll be finding PEACE Loving. I stand for PEACE and am Peace Ambassador for bringing the two people closer from both India & Pakistan. Just to add for your information I have some very good 82 Indian friends.
    As a first good will gesture I invite you to be my guest at your convenience.


  • Abdul Qayyum Bhatti
    Apr 13, 2012 - 4:54PM


    I highly appreciate your comments.

    I want to say that the news story presents the only the versions of India and the US which are only “allegations”. In conflict reporting, versions from all parties should be given equal treatment. But this news story provides only one side’s version which seems to be BIASED or let me call it Propaganda.

    What sort of “hopes” by the way you mean?
    Do you “hope” that Pakistan should put behind bars any Pakistani individual which the Indians or Americans point to? and only on the basis of mere allegations? without any credible proof? Do Pakistanis not have right for justice.
    Dear! There is an international law which states that every individual is innocent unless “proven guilty”. Even Interior Minister of Pakistan on the behalf of Government of Pakistan filed plea against these guys but Supreme Court of Pakistan have acquitted the guys because neither India nor the United States have shared any credible proof of their involvement in Mumbai Attacks. Few days before the US announced $10 million bounty to provides the proofs of Hafiz Saeed’s involvement in the Mumbai attacks. What is meant by this action. It simply means that the US do not have credible proofs of their allegations.


  • Apr 13, 2012 - 8:22PM

    @jagjit sidhoo:
    “Some people have the disease of criticizing all the time. They forget the good about others and only mention their faults. They are like flies that avoid the good and pure places and land on the bad and wounds. This is because of the evil within the self and the spoiled nature.”
    — Ibn Taymiyyah


  • Arijit Sharma
    Apr 14, 2012 - 12:22AM

    @dv sikka: ” …We lived together till the partition politics divided us.
    We were the SAME people until Islam came on the scene. The seeds of today’s conflict were laid with the first conversion to Islam. The British recognized the fact and used it.

    Partition is the final schism. Recommend

  • ashok patel
    Apr 20, 2012 - 1:07AM

    we are talking about trade between two country, not about culture and history.all you our pakistan brother mows about condition in pakistan and other side in india, its not just a third economy of world and superpower,but life in india is much much better and peaceful than pakistan ,insted of talking about bhagvan and allah talk about the life you have now, you cannot do pray if your surronding is not peaceful and stable,
    90% indian and 70% pakistani like each other and thay want peace on both side,only some mullah and votebank politician dont want peace between both country. i now india has to gain less and more loss,but i still favor both country get together on everything like trade,culture.films(i see lots of pakistani actors,singers comedian working in indian film industry you make films like khuda ke liye which was released in india, and you will get 20 times bigger market than pakistan) school,university,export,import
    just lets get immigration lows change and come in india see how pakistan can do same thing,brothers go and vote for good politician first and than talk about india


  • Vijay K
    May 2, 2012 - 5:51PM

    @Arijit Sharma: Sorry to digress from the topic of this article, but Islam came as a refuge for the millions of lower caste Hindus who have been persecuted for thousands of years by the caste system (your and my forefathers : you should know , you are a Brahmin). We Hindus need to do some introspection. How would you feel if your forefathers were made to carry human excrement on their heads for 3000 years and not even allowed to drink water from the village well? Wouldn’t you leave such a culture and religion, and wouldn’t you be angry? Islam was the best thing that could happen to these disfranchised people. I wish I could blame the British too Recommend

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