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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

The firm has branches in Birjand and Meshed


The entire British bazaar--a modest one so far--can be taken in at a glance. The snapshot reproduced in the illustration gives a very good idea of it. Besides this, one or two Indian British merchants are established in the main street of Sher-i-Nasrya, where, as we have seen, they have opened nice shops.

The pioneer merchants of Sistan were the firm of Mahommed Ali Brothers, of Quetta, established in 1900, and represented by a very intelligent man called Seth Suliman.

The firm has branches in Birjand and Meshed. They have done good business both in Sistan, Birjand and Meshed, and have been followed in Sistan by Tek-Chand, of the wealthy firm of Chaman Singh from Shikarpur--at one time the trade-centre of Asia. This firm holds to-day the opium contract of the whole of the Sind district, and is a most enterprising concern.

Mahommed Azim Khan Brothers, of Lahore, have also opened a shop in Sistan, and so has Mahommed Hayab, agent for Shek Fars Mahommed, the biggest British firm in Meshed. It is probable that in the near future a number of other Indian firms may be induced to open branches in Sistan and Khorassan; but, if they are to avoid disappointment, they should remember that the Sistan market is merely a retail one, and there is very little wholesale trade to be transacted so far. In time to come no doubt a wholesale trade will eventually be developed.

justify;">A point which is seldom grasped, or at any rate is frequently overlooked, is that Sistan (Sher-i-Nasrya) is a mere half-way house between Quetta and Meshed, and not, as is supposed by many people, the terminus of the route. Considerable loss and disappointment have been sustained by some rash British traders, who, notwithstanding the exceptional opportunities given them to obtain accurate official information, set out with large caravans, apparently without the most rudimentary geographical knowledge, as well as without sound commercial foresight.

Another mistake is frequent. Somehow or other the idea seems to prevail among some Indian traders that Persia, or Eastern Persia, forms part of the Indian Empire, and they forget that the protection and unusual facilities which they enjoy from Quetta to Robat (the Beluch frontier) and, to a certain extent, as far as Sistan, cannot possibly be given on Persian territory beyond Sistan as far as Meshed.

Although practically across a desert, the journey from Quetta-Nushki to Sistan is--for travelling of that kind--extremely comfortable and easy; the real difficulty begins for traders when they are perforce left to look after themselves on Persian soil, where there are no more clean rest-houses and where a Britisher--if travelling as a trader--is no more thought of than if he were an Asiatic trader. He is no longer the salaamed "Sahib" of the Indian cities, but becomes a mere _ferenghi_, a stranger, and is at the mercy of everybody.

Moreover, it should be well understood that the protection and redress obtainable under English law, cease on crossing the Persian frontier. Very little, if any, redress is to be obtained from Persian officials except at great cost and infinite worry, waste of time and patience.


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