March 2018 News

Pashmina And Silk: Global Buyers Flock To Kashmir

17 March 2018
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Over 120 delegates from 16 countries converged in Srinagar on Saturday to have a first-hand experience of exquisite products handmade by Valley artisans, providing a ray of hope to the otherwise-declining handicraft industry in the wake of growing instability in Jammu and Kashmir. 'We are showcasing world-famous carpets, shawls, chain-stitch work, rugs, copper wares and paper mache to our visitors. We are hopeful it will go a long way to boost the handicraft sector here,' Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Javed Ahmad Tenga told The Hindu. Prospective buyers have come all the way from countries including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Australia, Mexico and Lebanon. The biggest group has come from Turkey. 'My sister is launching a new line of products in Egypt. Pashmina is what has attracted us to Kashmir as brides would prefer it there. The material is light, fine and warm. Designs are equally exquisite,' Abdelrahman M. Abdou, an Egyptian carpet seller, said. 'The weather is also an attraction to come to Kashmir.' The government failed to hold the seventh international buyer-seller meet in Srinagar for the past two years due to the ongoing instability and violence. The government sees the event as a good omen for the tourism industry too. 'The presence of foreign buyers conveys a message to the outside world. Kashmir is a victim of deliberate vilification campaign in the country. This should dispel the myth globally that Kashmir is not just about conflict,' said J&K Public Works Minister Naeem Akhtar. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti used the occasion to pitch for the opening up of Kashmir to the outside world. 'I hope J&K opens up to the world as an international trading destination through land routes, realising its geopolitical situation, as part of a peaceful region,' said Ms. Mufti. She said Kashmir's reintroduction to the influences of the Silk Route, as in the past for seven centuries, 'would help in making the state a hub of economic activity in the region.' 'I hope you will go back as our ambassadors in the international trading community and the masterpieces you carry from here will act as souvenirs of peace and goodwill,' the chief minister told the buyers.