International Telegraphy and Karachi

By Dr. Adnan Zuberi
NOT only as Gateway to South Asia and Australasia in Aerial Communication, Karachi is the first town

of South Asia connected with International Telegraph from Europe.

From Alexander the Great to Vasco de Gamma and later from Dutch East India Co to British EIC, westerners were keeping eyes on Indus Valley Civilisation. When EIC successfully established an Anglo-Indian Empire they need a Faster Communication link throughout Sub Continent and Europe as well. Lord Dalhousie (1847) was a visionary Governer General and he planned to rapidly develop Public Works — Railways, Canals, Roads, Postal Service, Steamship and Telegraph.
William O’ Shaughnessy (1809-1889) an Irish British Medical Doctor and Pioneer in Intravenous Electrolyte Replacement Therapy in Cholera patients, Introduced Cannabis Indica Therapy in Westren Medicine, Forensic Toxicologist and Researcher in Electric Telegraphy. He came to India in 1933 as Assistant Surgeon at age of 24. Here he developed more better Telegraphy system and in 1839 he established and demonstrate 14 miles long Telegraphy line. Lord Dalhousie in 1847 contacted him and Authorised to build Trans India lines by 1854.
WAR OF INDEPENDENCE 1857. The first system of Indian Telegraph was developed before War of Independence. This Faster mean of Communication played a Vital Role in Crushing the Independent Movement. It helps in rapid movements of Soldiers in affected areas, in military logistics and transfer of messages to and from high command and Capital too . One captured freedom fighter being led to the gallows pointed to Telegraph Line and bravely cried,” There is an accursed String that Strangles us”.
In 1854, Colonial Govt proposed a Submarine Telegraph Cable from England to Karachi. For that they contacted Ottoman Govt for laying a cable from Alexandria ( Egypt) to Karachi. In 1858 funds were arranged and The Red Sea and India Telegraph Company was formed. In 1860 the cable was laid between Suez-Aden-Karachi. The length of a cable was 3000Nauticle miles. Later the landline cable extended to EAST–  Dehli and Calcutta from KARACHI. And towards WEST — Gawader and Persia. This project was completed by W T Henley’s Telegraph Co.
In 1861British govt instructed Col Patrick Stewart of Royal Engineers completed an other Submarine line from Karachi to Iraq.
By 1864 the fastest direct communication then known to man linked between England and Karachi had been established.
PHOTO: Telegraph House, McLeod Road designed and build by Capt P Phelps. Photo was taken by unknown photographer.

About Amin H. Karim MD

Graduate of Dow Medical College Class of 1977.
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