Cash crunch, no Pakistani stall upsets trade fair visitors

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) The cash crunch due to demonetisation of higher value notes and the missing Pakistani stall upset many visitors to the ‘Digital India’ theme-based 36th India International Trade Fair thrown open at Pragati Maidan here on Monday.

Amid the pavilions installed by various states, including Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, the usually popular Pakistani stall could not be found this year at the trade fair.

Pakistani stall, put up by traders from Pakistan, generally attracts many visitors and buyers.

Officials at the Pakistan High Commission cited security reasons for the absence of the stall.

“There are many security issues. Besides, Pakistanis were also denied visas to India this year. That is why Pakistani stall is not there this time round,” an official at the Pakistan High Commission told IANS.

Naeema Khan, a visitor who fancies Pakistani clothes, used to shop at the stall every year.

“It is sad that the stall is not there this year. I always wait for this trade fair to buy clothes and other products usually available at the stall. But I am upset because I could not find the Pakistani stall here today,” Khan told IANS.

Another visitor, Sudha Chatterjee, a central government employee, also noticed the absence of the Pakistani stall. She hoped for peace between the two countries, whose relations took a turn for worse post an attack on an Indian Army base in Jammu and Kashmir, killing at least 18 army men.

“We do not have much anger towards them. We need to know their culture better, and we had been able to be part of their culture through trade fairs every year. But this year is disappointing,” Sudha told IANS.

Most of the visitors went window shopping as they remained out of cash following the demonetisation of high-value currency notes last week.

“We have had only one customer since morning. This is for the first time in all these years that the first day of trade fair has been so low,” Muhammad Annam, a stall owner from Uttar Pradesh, told IANS.

“But we knew this is going to happen. Let us hope that the government does something about it soon,” he added.

The trade fair was thrown open on Monday by President Pranab Mukherjee and will continue up to November 27. It will remain open from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.