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VHP threatens to disrupt much awaited Pak lifestyle exhibition

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has asked Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) to cancel the second edition of ‘Lifestyle Pakistan’ exhibition to be held in Delhi from 11 to 14 September.

The first edition of the exhibition, jointly organised by Ficci and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), in 2012 in Delhi was immensely successful.

The VHP today threatened to disrupt the exhibition if it wasn’t cancelled. VHP Delhi state general secretary Ram Krishna Srivastava stated in a letter to Ficci that “sentiments of the people of India would be hurt if the trade chamber promoted products made in a country that has been attacking Bharat.”

The VHP is an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with its stated objective to protect interests of Hindus. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the Sangh’s political arm.

Over 150 exhibitors are expected to attend the four day exhibition at Delhi’s Pragati Maidan. The exhibitors would include those showcasing Pakistani fashion, textiles, jewellery, accessories, home textiles, furniture, marbles and agro products.

‘Aalishan Pakistan’ is an initiative of TDAP to further build on the efforts of the governments of Pakistan and India to normalize trade between the two countries. The second edition of the exhibition, which will also have on offer Pakistani food, is expected to bigger with many more exhibitors likely to attend.

Such exhibitions have over the past few years been promoted to improve India-Pakistan bilateral trade. The intra-regional Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) trade is barely five per cent of the total trade volume of its member countries. As much as 60 per cent of Europe’s trade is intra-European Union trade.

However, VHP spokesperson Vinod Bansal said the outfit will not allow the exhibition in the light of the events of last fortnight with continues firing across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir as well as Islamabad engaging with Kashmiri separatists. The VHP had vandalised an Ahmedabad art gallery for displaying works of Pakistani artists in 2013.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif had attended Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s oath taking ceremony. However, India had called of Foreign Secretary level talks scheduled for August 25 to protest Pakistan High Commissioner holding talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Over the past few years, both India and Pakistan have tried to increase their official bilateral trade.

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