SRINAGAR: According to the cross-LoC traders the Pakistani imported miswaks have found strong market not only among the Kashmiri people but with Indian populace as well with sales soaring up in the month of Ramadan thus raising the hopes for the revival of old routes connecting to Central Asia.
“Earlier, there used to be very limited supply of miswaks here and those would only suffice the need of local markets. But the sales are now ever increasing,” General Secretary, Samalabad- Chakote Traders Association, Hilal Turki told Kashmir Reader.
In almost five years more than 60 truckloads of miswaks have been traded to this part and dealers from here have exported them to Indian cities also.
“We are seeing good fortunes in terms of sales as we get them at cheaper rates compared to other wholesale markets. Miswaks from Pakistan are better in quality and the prices are much less what we have in Indian wholesale markets,” he explained.
The wholesalers also echo the same views as of the LoC traders.
“We used to buy the miswaks from Indian markets where we got them at high rates and in retail market a simple miswak would be sold at Rs 15 to 25, but since the coming of these items from LoC the rates are more appreciable and the same miswak twig would cost Rs 10,” Mohammad Ajaz Shah, a whole seller at Bohri Kadal told Kashmir Reader.
According to Shah people accept Pakistani miswak wholeheartedly because of emotional connection as well.
Traders say Ramadan is golden season for selling miswaks. One can see vendors selling miswak on streets, footpaths, outside government offices, Masjids and other crowded places and markets.
Abdul Hamid, a miswak vendor at the Bund in city centre, said that during the Ramadan month the sales of miswaks go up to almost 30 percent from normal days.
“We order extra miswaks from wholesalers as the demand increases in this month. We make a profit of more than Rs 150 as compared to normal days,” Hamid said.
Hamid added that most of the customers prefer Haleemi, an Arabic brand of miswak, which is cheaper and soft on teeth while chewing.
“Haleemi has demand among customers, but Al-Huda, Al-Zehbi and Zytoon are also in demand nowadays. Indian brands like Neem has very little likings in Kashmir,” he said.
Doctors also recommend miswak to maintain oral health.
“Miswak is a natural thing which has almost no side effects as compared to tooth pastes which contain some ingredients which can be harmful to our health,” Dr Ishfaq Ahmad Bhat, who is Assistant Professor at JVC told Kashmir Reader.
Traders are also optimistic that that things imported from Pakistan and then getting exported to India via Kashmir may revive the Silk route. “This could be a beginning of the revival of Silk route or Salt route (Mughal Road) which were direct links for our products to Central Asian markets,” they said.
Poet, Zarief Ahmad Zarief told Kashmir Reader that Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road which links Kashmir with Pakistan and other parts of the world could kindle the lost hope of revving the traditional routes with the world. Srinagar-Muzaffarabad also known as Jhelum Valley Road in pre-partition era had remained the main connecting link for Kashmir to the outer world. “Kashmiri had direct business with Central Asia along with the Rawalpindi Road that passes through Muzaffarabad which ultimately connects it with Silk route,” Zarief said adding Kashmir was a link for Indian products and vice-versa to reach Central Asian markets.
“Today Central Asian or Arabic miswaks are being traded through this route and the day is not far when there will be brisk business through this road,” he said.