New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Glasses clinking, but not with champagne, perfume wafting in the air, glamorous, high-heeled women and plenty of air kissing... it was a slice of an evening in Pakistan in the Indian capital where hundreds of Pakistanis and Indians mingled for an evening of fashion, food and music.
An estimated 750 Pakistanis, many of them women, were in the capital for the four-day Lilfestyle Pakistan Expo that ends Sunday, the first time in recent years that so many Pakistanis have come here together in these continuing days of visa tensions and restrictions on movement.
Lifestyle Pakistan reciprocates the Made in India show this February in Lahore where 250 Indians participated. The high profile ministerial delegation was led by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. His Pakistani counterpart Mohammad Amin Fahim was here as well.
Both ministers said Saturday that the two countries were exploring the possibilities of opening more routes to deepen economic engagements.
As trade and fashion segued to make for better atmospherics, an agreement for liberalising a visa regime is also expected to be signed when the two home secretaries are likely to meet in Islamabad May end.
The estimated 750, whose visit comes soon after their President Asif Ali Zardari's daylong trip to New Delhi and Ajmer, included the business delegation and the cream of the Pakistani business and fashion world.
If not the city, they had certainly taken over the Taj Palace Hotel Friday evening when the Pakistanis hosted a fashion show and a concert by Sufi singer Sanam Marvi and current heartthrob actor-singer Ali Zafar, most recently seen in the Bollywood film "London, Paris, New York".
As the models strutted down the ramp and the strobe lights flashed red and blue, a few hushed voices could be heard asking whether this was how it was in Pakistan as well. And for many of those with little insight into life in Pakistan, it was instructive to see the creme of Pakistani society partying in their city.
Long flowing robes worn over tailored pants, chiffon and georgette over lace fringed palazzos, asymmetrical hemmed, immaculately tailored kurtas over cigarette pants, the evening was also a lesson in high fashion - Pakistan style. Quite far removed from the salwar kurtas as most Indians know them. Add to it, stunning jewellery pieces, designer clutches and impossibly high heels.
And these were not the models on the ramp, showcasing the designs of 11 Pakistani designers, but the many Pakistani women watching them.
As Indian designer Madhu Jain said: "It is good move by both the countries and for me fashion is the first non-political step which will help in bridging the gap between both the countries... Also the thing which I like about them the most is they are promoting their own culture and tradition in India without getting inspired from anywhere else.
Most Pakistanis were overwhelmed with the response of the people, and how their products were being snapped up - be it the famous Pakistani lawn or jewellery or the old favourite green and white onyx.
"Indians are so warm loving and I am amazed to see the response which I got from people here. We share the same culture and traditions and I think my collection struck the right chord in their minds," Karachi-based Pakistani designer Sahar Atif told IANS.
Faizaa Samee, also from Karachi, added: "It's good to meet our brothers and sisters here and receive love from them."
The goodwill flowed. And it is being fervently hoped that the visas will as well with more such initiatives.
Surely, the way ahead in the troubled equation between the two countries.
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