Jalandhar:Escalating tension between India and Pakistan at Line of Control (LoC) has cast its spell on the maiden South Asia Trade Fair and Consumer Expo 2017, as only 46 Pakistanis were issued visas by the Indian Government out of the total 146 traders from Pakistan.
The Indian Government issued visas to Pakistani traders at the last moment at around 8.30 pm on Wednesday. As many as 52 Pakistani traders, who were regular participants of the previously held ‘Indo-Pak Exhibition’ were issued visa by the Indian Government.
Recently, Army lost four soldiers including a Major in Hajin operation in Bandipora in North Kashmir while two others were martyred in yet another gunfight in Kulgam on February 12.
The situation at the border has been volatile post the Uri attack in September last year and the subsequent Surgical Strike led by the Army in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Cross border firing has increased in the past six months, claiming the lives of soldiers and leaving many injured.
Talking to Daily Post, Rupinder Singh Sachdeva, the Chairman of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry Punjab committee said, “Owing to the rising tension at the border and soldiers losing precious lives in various operations, the Indian Government issued visa to fewer Pakistani traders. The past months saw the situation turning volatile at the LoC and its impact was visible on the trade fair.”
To a query about the issuance of visas to Pakistani traders at the last moment, Sachdeva said, “It was a standard practice because of security reasons that the visas were issued to the Pakistani traders at the last moment. Initially, 85 Pakistanis had stated their willingness to participate but finally visa was issued to 52 only. And only 46 Pakistanis came this time.”
However when asked that trade ties with Pakistan should be severed after the rising tension at the border, Sachdeva said that Punjab was a ‘Land Locked’ state with fewer business options. “We have been working to establish Wagah trade route as a flourishing business option between India and Pakistan. Especially, Punjab badly needs trade ties with Pakistan, as it would further improve international business route with the South Asian countries”, he added.
Notably, the first ever South Asia Trade Fair & Consumer Expo organized by the PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PHDCCI) in Jalandhar was seeing the participation of Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, China, Thailand and Pakistan. A majority of the food stall owners and the famous Pakistani artist Arif Lohar also failed to get visa.