A familiar ring to the items made in Pakistan

Visitors examining fabrics at the "Made in Pakistan" exhibition in New Delhi on Wednesday.  

IT MAY have been "Made in Pakistan" and carted all the way from across the border, but there was a sense of familiarity at the exhibition that began at Talkatora Indoor Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday. The beautiful wood inlay work, skilfully carved Onyx and marble handicrafts, the typical textiles and weaves may speak of the rich cultural heritage of India's neighbour but the feeling among visitors and indeed the exhibitors was the same: a oneness that comes from a common culture and a common language.

"India feels like home to me. I don't think there is any difference in the culture or the people. I am sure whatever will sell in the Pakistani market will sell here too," says Haji Khalid Hussain who has a furniture stall. Yet another exhibitor, Asif, whose stall displays a variety of beautifully carved Onyx items, says: "I feel more of an Indian than Pakistani! I have been interacting with Indians for a long time now and the similarity cannot be ignored."

Besides the traditional handicrafts, the exhibition also has cosmetic items, motorcycles, tyres and electronic items. Interestingly, there's something for the gourmet as well: Pakistan's favourite fast food chain, Bundu Khan, is ready with his popular barbeque menu. Also, Shan's spices and the beverage "Pakola" are available.

Though there was only a sprinkling of visitors on the first day, the exhibitors were not disappointed. "This is only the first day. People will come when they know more about it. And there is definitely as demand for our products in the market," says an exhibitor.

For those who did visit the exhibition, it was more to satisfy curiosity. "There is always curiosity about Pakistan and that is why I came. There are some interesting things like the furniture and Onyx items. But most of the stuff is available in India,'' said a visitor, Ruby Singh.

Organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the nine-day exhibition also aims at improving trade links between the two countries. "In the light of the WTO agreement and the recently concluded SAARC summit, opening up of trade relations is important. But much has to be done for the business community and we are hoping that direct trade links will be possible by June. At the moment, transporting is still a problem," reveals FPCCI member, Muhammad Amin Khatri.

An invitation for a reciprocal exhibition has been already been extended to FICCI and it is likely that a "Made in India" exhibition would be held in Karachi before the end of the year.

By Anjali Malhotra

Photo: S. Subramanium