Old vintage beauties, trade fairs to forge closer India-Pakistan ties

New Delhi, Dec 27 (IANS) As India and Pakistan seek to resume dialogue and normalization of relations, on a quieter and non-controversial footing, a cross-border group of automobile enthusiasts will have dozens of their old but elegant beauties roll down the streets and have people's heads turn -- courtesy a vintage car rally in Lahore.

Around 60-70 vintage Indian cars and motorcycles and an equal number of old beauties from Pakistan would joint hold a rally in Lahore in the middle of February to highlight the shared heritage of the two nations, an informed source told IANS.

An Indian trade fair would also be held in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province, at the same time - Feb 16-19, 2014.

Titled the India Show, it would be held by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and co-hosted by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.

"It will be a big show. There will be around 200 Indian companies participating. The vintage car rally would run parallel to the trade fair," the Pakistani source told IANS.

The development comes days after the India visit of Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had come as a special envoy.

During his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Shahbaz Sharif had dwelt on the "desire to move forward on bilateral relations".

Both countries held a meeting of their Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) on Dec 24 after 14 years to find out ways to ensure peace on the Line of Control. The meeting between their DGMOs had been agreed upon during the meeting of the two prime ministers in New York on Sep 29, as a step towards normalization of relations.

In March, around 60-70 major Pakistani companies, including in textiles, agriculture, food products, would participate in a SAARC trade fair in Delhi in March.

For the vintage car rally, to be titled Sharing the Heritage, the Indian cars are proposed to be taken in containers to the Wagah-Attari land border in Amritsar from where they would be driven to Lahore, said the source.

In Lahore, the cars from both sides would be on display at the Lahore Expo ground. They would also be driven around the city.

"Many of the cars are from the Colonial era.. The rally would thus reflect the shared heritage of India and Pakistan, " another source told IANS.

One vintage car would be of particular interest to Pakistan for its association with the country's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah

"One car is said to be closely associated with our country's founder. The organisers said they would be bringing it along for the rally," the source added.

After the vintage car rally, a joint desert car rally may also be in the works. India holds a desert car rally in the Rann of Kutch.

(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at ranjana.n@ians.in)

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