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VHP threatens to disrupt Pakistani lifestyle exhibition

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Sangh Parivar organisation, asked Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) to cancel the second edition of ‘Lifestyle Pakistan’ exhibition to be held in New Delhi from September 11 to 14. The exhibition’s first edition, jointly organised by Ficci and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), in 2012 in Delhi was immensely successful.

The VHP on Wednesday threatened to disrupt the exhibition if Ficci went ahead with the plan. Ram Krishna Srivastava, the general secretary of VHP’s Delhi unit, stated “sentiments of the people of India would be hurt if the trade chamber promoted products made in a country that has been attacking Bharat”.

More than 150 exhibitors are expected to attend the four-day exhibition at Delhi’s Pragati Maidan. The exhibitors 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 normalise trade between the two countries. The exhibition, which will also have on offer Pakistani food, is expected to be 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 ceasefire violations on the border. 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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