Studies of India’s foreign trade have tended to overlook commercial flows passing through the north-western frontier, destined for Afghanistan, Central Asia and Russia. This volume attempts to redress this imbalance.192
It does this by initially identifying the geographical and political factors that complicated the trade as well as afforded merely tentative estimates of its volumes. In the chapters that follow, the economic power of Sindhi bankers from Shikarpur over most of south Central Asia is explained and the reliance upon nomad Afghan horse traders to transport textiles, spices, bullion, gems and drugs over the Himalayas detailed. The existence of a substantial body of British military intelligence is used to buttress the commercial fortunes of the principal trade marts of Multan and Shikarpur in the nineteenth century. Finally, the book seeks to provide a historical context to established scholarship on Indo-Russian trade in the twentieth century by probing into its origins from the seventeenth century.