is a leading carpet exporter. He is the Chief of Shalamar Carpet Private
Limited. An active member of different trade bodies Yacoob has served
the carpet trade as the Chairman of Association of Hand-Knotted Carpet
Manufacturers and Exporters in the year 2000-01. It was his tenure
during which he took the hand-knotted carpet exports to the
unprecedented heights. During that year the total export of hand-knotted
carpets from Pakistan touched the highest mark to the tune of $299
million. Yacoob is the member of the Advisory Committee of the Ministry
of Commerce, Member of the FPCCI Committees Aviation and Export
Pakistan is a major producer of hand-knotted carpets, where does it
stand in the world market, i.e. share of Pakistani carpets in the global
The demand of Pakistani hand-knotted carpets is tremendous in the world
market; whatever is produced in Pakistan is almost exported. The more
the production the more you can export; there is no dearth of demand for
What steps are required to increase the volume of production?
Unlike other manufacturing sectors, the hand-knotted industry is
basically a cottage industry which can be started even without
electricity in a small house. This particular nature enables the women
in rural areas to earn bread and butter while sitting at home. This
trade does not consume any sort of imported raw material because almost
the entire raw material used is produced within the country. However,
lack of a strong institutional support to organize this trade at a
massive scale hampering its growth to the desired level. It has the
potential to cross the mark of $500 million in a short span of time if
the organizing and pooling resources are properly looked after.
What steps you would suggest organizing this industry?
In fact, hand-knotted industry in Pakistan had a strong manpower support
from Afghan refugees. These large number of Afghan refugees had a
peculiar weaving skill of Central Asian designs and color scheme. After
remixing with Pakistani skill and traditionally Moghal designs, the
hand-knotted carpets produced here were blended with a fascinating
product have great demand especially in the West. However, after return
of the Afghan refugees to their home land, over 4 lakh Afghan weavers
left for their country which created a gap of the manpower as well as
decline in volume of production. It is because of the decline in
production that the export volume is also on the decline from $299 in
2001 to $240 in 2002 and $220 in 2003. It is feared the export volume of
further decline at the end of the current year.
Why don't you arrange supply line from Afghanistan as they are always
trading through Pakistan?
Yes it could be arranged, but after opening of the air passage from
India to Afghanistan, there is a mad rush of Indian carpet exporters in
Kabul who lift the entire lot for re-export under Indian label. As far
as Pakistani exporters are concerned they avoid traveling because of
security risk in that country.
Growing rate of poverty and un-employment is a serious problem in
Pakistan. Since this sector can contribute significantly to address the
issue, what is required to impart training to the people especially in
the rural areas?
Actually, as far as the financial help is concerned, the banking sector
is providing export re-financing at the cheapest rate that is below 3
per cent, however for the small units, poor people have no access to the
banking facilities due to lack of education and cumbersome procedures
adopted by the banking system for disbursement of advances. The
micro-financing system which is getting its roots in our society can
play a much greater role to promote such industries in Pakistan. There
is also need for training centers in the rural and remote parts of the
country for creating skilled manpower for this industry. However, since
the government's main interest is currently with the macro-economic
development, the public sector organization responsible for promoting
such economic activity at micro level are taking least interest. There
is a need of a spark among such organizations to give retain our
position in the export market.
You are talking about great demand for hand-knotted carpets, would you
like to identify countries the main buyers of this costly product?
Traditionally, the Western countries like UK, Germany, France, Belgium
and the United States are the major buyers of hand-knotted carpets
because of their exciting beauty and comforts of wool in below freezing
point temperatures. This market is going to further expand next year
with the inclusion of ten more East European countries into the club of
European Union. The expansion in the EU would mean increase in demand
for hand-knotted in that region. We can take advantage of this available
market by increasing volume of production.