The 12th annual Punjab International Trade Expo (PITEX) will begin in Amritsar on Thursday without of traders from Pakistan, despite Punjab government’s efforts to ensure their participation. The Expo will draw to a close on December 11.
The Centre had raised objections over the participation of Pakistani traders in the event after which Punjab government wrote a letter on December 1 to request entry of Pakistani nationals.
In his letter by DPS Kharbanda, Director-cum-Special Secretary, Department of Industries and Commerce, Punjab to Nutan Kapoor Mahavar, Joint Secretary (Coordination), Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, wrote, “I draw your attention to your response to our letter written on November 17 requesting your goodself to grant political clearances from your ministry for the participation of Pakistani exhibitors and delegates in PITEX-2017. In reply, your ministry had conveyed that participation of the Pakistan at said event is not recommended.”
It further read: “In view of the importance of the event and No Objection Certificate issued by state government from security angle, I shall be grateful if you kindly grant the political clearances from your ministry for participation of Pakistani exhibitors and delegates in PITEX 2017. I look forward to your support to make PITEX a grand success.”
A copy of the NOC issued by Punjab Home Department for Pakistan nationals travelling to state of Punjab to participate in PITEX was also attached with letter sent on December 1.
Talking to The Indian express, Kharbanda said, “Union government had expressed reservations over the participation of Pakistani nationals in PITEX. But we have sent them NOC issued by state government and requested to allow Pakistani traders in event. We have made our efforts and now ball is in court of the Union government.”
“Pakistan’s participation is important to us as there is road link between Lahore and Amritsar and trade on this road link will increase with participation of Pakistani traders in PITEX. It will be beneficial for Punjab and India,” he added.
Pakistani traders have remained a part of PITEX from its first edition in 2005. It was after Uri terrorist attack that Pakistani traders didn’t come to participate at the event for the first time in December 2016.
However, some dealers of Pakistani goods in India had installed shops at PITEX with Pakistani flags and started selling products made in the neighbouring country. But then, these shops were attacked by members of a right-wing body.
Punjab government had again invited Pakistani traders for the event this year. “We are not sure about the participation of Pakistani traders this year. They want to come. We have been expecting them. But final decision will be taken by the Union government,” said Kharbanda.
Dr Ranjit Mehta, Principal Director, PHD Chamber, and R S Sachdeva, Chairman, PHD Chamber’s Punjab Committee, said that PITEX will be inaugurated by Punjab CM Amarinder Singh on Thursday.
Sachdeva said that it was for the first time when all the stalls have been booked prior to start of event. “This time industrialists from Afghanistan, Turkey, Thailand, Egypt and Czech Republic are also participating in PITEX. Apart from these, states like Jharkahnd, J&K, Chattisgarh and Rajsthan are also ensuring their participation in the event,” said Sachdeva, who did not mention Pakistan in the list.
For the event, over 300 stalls have been put up in over 10 thousand sq mts in Ranjit Avenue.