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Despite a bumpy start, including some early examples of spontaneous combustion, the tiny Tata Nano is starting to fulfill the promise of bringing a four-wheeled automobile to India's masses at the world's lowest price.
This hasn't gone unnoticed next door, in Pakistan.
A Pakistani conglomerate, known as the International Multi Group of Companies, wants to import vehicles from the Tata Group. The lineup could include everything from the diminutive Nano to Tata's transit buses, powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).
IMG already has a letter of intent with the Tata Group that covers the CNG buses, its chairman Amjad Rashid said recently.
Osama Bin Laden
But to bring Nanos to Pakistani buyers, he said, India and Pakistan would have to lift restrictions on investments and joint ventures between the two countries.
The countries have been historical antagonists since the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
But Indian Autos Blog adds a current news twist to the story, opining that "investments in Pakistan will be a call that foreign business houses will not take at the moment" due to last Sunday's U.S. assassination of Osama Bin Laden.
In other words, no progress on easing relations between India and Pakistan would mean no Nanos in the largely Muslim country.
We can't evaluate the impact on diplomatic relations, or long-term investments in the region, of this latest episode in the "global war on terror."
We can surmise, however, that many millions of Pakistanis would very much like to have the option of purchasing Tatas, just as carless families all around the globe would.