Fears of renewed tensions between India and Pakistan were sparked today, as diplomatic talks over the rights to wear cashmere broke down once again. The luxury goat’s wool, prized for its versatility, elegance and a softness against the skin unparalleled by cheaper fibres, has long been a source of dispute in the north-western region of the subcontinent, at times escalating into armed conflict.
Speaking at a hastily convened press conference in Lahore, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf appeared before the cameras wearing a snug, turquoise-blue, turtle-neck cashmere sweater; a sartorial decision the UN was quick to condemn as “an act of unnecessary and provocative sabre-rattling.”
“This is not about religion, creed, or national identity,” declared Ashraf, “this is about the right of our countrymen to wear something that is soft and cosy and yet at the same time undeniably chic. India wants the downy, silky warmth of cashmere all for itself. This claim has no basis in history, and no foundation in international law.”
Ashraf’s opposite number, Manmohan Singh of India, cut short his holiday in the Andaman Islands to return to New Delhi and deal with the crisis. As he prepared to board a plane, wearing a turban believed to have been fashioned from a tassled, cherry-red cashmere scarf, he delivered this brief statement:
“Once again, we have Mr Ashraf blowing so much smoke with his talk of renewed clashes along the border. Frankly, I’m more concerned about his decision to pair that turquoise sweater with those navy blue chinos. Now that’s a very serious clash indeed.”