SRINAGAR: It is not just the Pakistani ethnic wear that attracts people in Kashmir, a huge demand for Pakistani spices here has also grown over the years with spice dealers saying that “Pakistani spices sell like hot-cakes!”.
Srinagar shopkeepers have witnessed a surge in the sales of spices with people buying different varieties on a large scale. Those in the spice trade say their “sales increase during the month of Ramadhan and people purchase in bulk”.
“There is a huge demand for Pakistani spices in Kashmir. These spices sell like hot-cakes,” says a spice dealer from Zainakadal, Srinagar’s downtown area.
Valleyites have become so familiar with Pakistani brands like National, Shaan, etc. as if local brands.
“Adding spices to the food is always a good idea, and we would personally prefer the Pakistani spices because it has no match,” says Sabeena Ashraf while purchasing spices at old city’s Maharaj Gunj area.
She added that the people of Kashmir are fond of non-vegetarian food and “it becomes very important to be choosy with these Pakistani spices to get a rich flavour”.
Cross LoC trade started in October 2008 as a confidence building measure (CBM) between India and Pakistan. From both sides of Kashmir, traders are allowed to deal in 16 items though they have been seeking that the number of items should be increased. The items traded include spices, vegetables, dry and fresh fruits, carpets, rugs, embroidery items, shawls, papier-mâché goods, clothes and wooden furniture.
“The trade has been going for a decade now through the Salamabad-Uri route and once in a year our business reaches its peak is Ramadhan,” Bashir Ahmad, a trader at Zaina Kadal said.
He adds that during Ramadhan the demand is so high that “most of the traders go out of stock”.
According to official data, in 2017, an export of goods worth Rs 2,535 crore and an import of goods totalling Rs 2,300 crore in the past one decade ensued between the two sides.
“Traders can dispatch or receive only 35 trucks a day and it causes a lot of inconvenience. The government should increase the number of trucks and more important the number of listed items,” says another distributor, Gulzar Ahmad.
In that case, he adds, “there will be an increase in the quantum of trade and will draw more people towards this business”.