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September 23, 2014
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Maj-Gen Robert Cawthome was the longest-serving ISI chief

September 23, 2014

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LAHORE: The Australian-born Major-General Robert “Bill” Cawthome, once a British Army officer who had later joined the Pakistan Army, remains the longest-serving Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) for over nine years from 1950 to 1959.
Research shows that General Robert Cawthome had laid down the basic principles of the ISI, together with a Pakistan Navy Commander, Syed Muhammad Ahsan, who is officially acknowledged to have played an integral part in managing the recruitment and expansion of this world class spy agency. At that time, Syed Muhammad Ahsan was serving as Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence.
Former Pakistani Foreign Minister Lieutenant Colonel Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan (Later 3-star general) had also served in ISI as GSO-1 in those days. The recruitment and expansion of the ISI was managed and undertaken by then-Navy’s Commander Syed Mohammad Ahsan who was serving as Deputy Director of the Naval Intelligence. He played an integral and major role in formulating the policies of the ISI. At the end of December 1952, Major-General Robert Cawthome, Director-General of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), sent a priority report to the Commander Ahsan, and asked for detailed reaction of Pakistan Armed Forces personnel for the Basic principles for the ISI. The ISI was managed and under taken by then-Navy’s Commander Syed Mohammad Ahsan who was tenuring as Deputy Director of the Naval Intelligence. He played an integral and major role in formulating the policies of the ISI.
This is what Global Security.org, a leading American source of background information and developing news stories in the fields of defence, space, intelligence, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and homeland security, writes about ISI’s early days:
“The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was founded in 1948 by a British army officer, Major General (R). Cawthome, the then Deputy Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Army.

Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the President of Pakistan, had expanded the role of ISI in safeguarding Pakistan’s interests, monitoring opposition politicians, and sustaining military rule in Pakistan.”
The February 28, 2012 edition of an Indian newspaper “The Telegraph” states: “Colonel Syed Shahid Hamid was the first boss of the ISI. Then came Robert Cawthome, followed by Brigadier Hussain, whose rule began in 1959 and ended in 1966.”
The July 28, 2008 edition of “The Australian” had maintained: “The ISI dates back to 1948 when it was established as the brainchild of an Australian-born British Army officer, Major General R. Cawthome, the then deputy chief of staff in the Pakistan Army.”
Research further reveals that the concept of ISI was idolised by Lieutenant-Colonel Shahid Hamid on July 14, 1948. Later, he was promoted to 2-star rank of Major-General and was appointed as Director-General of the Military Intelligence by Major-General (R) Iskandar Mirza, who was serving as the Defence Secretary at that time.
However, Major General Shahid Hamid had left on June 20, 1950 to command the 100 Brigade in Peshawar, looking after the Khayber Pass and Landi Kotal and Major-General Robert Cawthorne was given the command of the agency.
The original ISI building was situated in Karachi on the Junction of Abdullah Haroon Road (Old Victoria Street) and Hidayatullah Road opposite Zainab Market.

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