Indians and Pakistanis debate over Pakistani rock salt

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Hundreds of Pakistanis and Indians engaged in a debate on the “Pakistani Crushed Rock Salt” following a post shared on a Facebook group regarding the product, Samaa TV reported.

On Saturday, Suraj Jain from Jalandhar shared photos of the product on the India Pakistan Heritage Club group’s Facebook page with the caption: “Dear Pakistani friends. Hum aapka NAMAK khate hai (we eat your salt) !!!!”

The statement was met with warmth by Pakistani page members who shared the socio-cultural context with their Indian counterparts.

It was taken as a proclamation of affinity to Pakistan and its people.

Many Pakistanis were surprised that Pakistani salt with such a brand name and packaging was allowed to be sold in the Indian market.

But then there were detractors: some Pakistanis demanding “namak halali” from Indians and some Indians coming up with tit-for-tat responses, the report said.

At least one Indian company has named this Himalayan salt as “Pakistani Crushed Rock Salt”. The word ‘Pakistani’ appears prominently on the packaging. Hans India and a few others mention the Pakistani origins of salt on their packaging but take care to relegate it to less visible spaces, Samaa TV reported.

The “Pakistani Crushed Rock Salt” is available in and around Jalandhar at Rs 95 (PKR223) per kg. This is way above the price of ordinary iodized salt being sold at Rs 24 per kg.

In Pakistan, rock salt is sold as Lahori namak and has seen an uptick in its prices since the 2019 row with India when its medicinal benefits were widely discussed. Online shopping sites now sell it at PKR199 per kg, though in local markets it is much cheaper.

A significant proportion of Pakistani pink salt is also sold in the local Indian market. However, most Indian companies would not call it Pakistani salt. It’s sold as Himalayan salt, pink salt or sendha namak. Sendha means ‘rock’ in Hindi, Samaa TV reported.

The report claims that it is no secret that the best Himalayan salt is found in Pakistan. This rock salt is also known as pink salt and is popular for its health effects.

It is also a known fact that Pakistan exports a large quantity of Himalayan salt — about 100,000 tonnes a year — to India. In 2019, the issue was in the news after Indians tried to register the salt in their name with international trade bodies. India exports some of the salt it imports from Pakistan to the west after value addition, Samaa TV reported.

(Sanjeev Sharma can be reached at Sanjeev.s@ians.in)

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