RAWALPINDI: The historic Gordon College, a well-known place of learning has turned into a battlefield. The students and faculty have been protesting the college administration for what they describe as the ‘anti-poor policies’.
Recently, the provincial government handed over the college management to the Board of Governors, which caused anger and fear among students and faculty members. They staged protests against the decision and described it a conspiracy to deprive the poor of their basic right of education.
Students fear that the Board of Directors will raise fees, while the teachers are unsure about their jobs and subsequent downsizing which could be carried out.
The college was established in 1893. Till the time of the Partition of the South Asian Subcontinent in 1947, it was the only college functioning in the city.
The college was nationalised in 1972. Since then the college has been owned and run by the Punjab Government.
Shahbaz Qureshi, a senior teacher of the college, said that the provincial government wants to deprive the children of the poor segment of the society from their fundamental right.
The principal of the college told The Express Tribune that unfortunately the college had been entangled in many disputes.
The encroachers, who occupied a piece of land of the college, have taken the college administration to the court. And, the decision of the Punjab government regarding Board of Governors has added fuel to the fire causing unrest among the students and teachers over their uncertain future.
“We are expecting from our high profile alumni to play a role in this connection,” said Abdul Qayyum Bhatti, the principal of the college in the presence of a large number of teachers and students.
He said although successive governments failed to maintain the prestigious status of the college. Its contribution was still considerable.
Unarguably, for a long time Gordon College had occupied an eminent position among all the institutions of higher learning in Pakistan.
Numerous distinguished bureaucrats, lawyers, judges, politicians and senior army officers studied in this college.
These include the serving judge of the Supreme Court Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq, Former Chief of the Army Staff Gen Jahangir Karamat, Rector Islamic International University (IIUI) Prof Fateh Muhammad Malik, Ex-Corps Commander Lt-General Jamshed Gulzar Kiani, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, three former prime ministers of Azad Kashmir, former governor of Punjab General Raja Saroop Khan, former federal minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and many other prominent artists and journalists like Nayyar Kamal, Rahat Kazmi, Saira Kazmi, Azhar Lodhi, Farooq Azam and Gul G.
The names of two renowned Indian actors, Shayam Kumar and Balraj Sahini, are also among the list of ‘gordonians’.
Maulvi Anwarul Haq, Attorney General for Pakistan, when contacted, told The Express Tribune that he could never forget Gordon College due to which he succeeded to excel throughout his career.
“Let me recall my memory,” Haq then said, “Justice Ramday was best debater while Gen Kiani was student leader of the college. Rahat Kazmi entertained the students through his artist skills.”
Besides my colleagues, the pleasant memories of my teachers like Prof C A Peter, Dr AQ Daskawie and Khawaja Masud are still fresh in my mind, Haq said, adding, Gordon College was only college of the Rawalpindi Division that had a co-education system but general decline in the education sector marred its charm.
“Not only me but my father has also studied in this college, I assured him that I would contribute for the uplift of the college,” he added.
Saleem Asghar Mian, former Chairman Monopoly Control Authority, told The Express Tribune, “I joined Gordon College in 1957. It was pleasant experience for all my friends, as the college provided us a friendly environment through its academic as well as co-curricular activities. “Many of my class fellows at Gordon College became federal secretaries later,” he said proudly.
Presently the college is catering the educational needs of nearly 3,500 students of intermediate, graduation and postgraduation levels.
Rev EE Fife was the first principal of the college. The college moved to its present premises in 1902 and the same year for the first time a bachelor’s class studied there. Admission to first intermediate science class was made in 1904.
Records show that the first graduate from the college was Ishar Das, in 1904. First Muslim graduate was the late Justice Din Muhammad, former Sindh governor.
The college enrolment passed the mark of hundred students in 1910. For the first time BSc classes began in 1927 and the first science graduate was Barkat Ali who stood first in the province.
The post-graduate classes in the subject of English literature, Urdu literature and history were started in 1940, 1948 and 1955 respectively.
A notice-board hanging in the office of the college principal shows that 38 principals served the college so far include 14 Christian principals. The prominent principals of the college are Rev EE Fife, GW Morrison, JS Thompson, Prof CA Peter, Prof Khwaja Masud and Prof H Talib Khan.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2011.