The old boys of Lawrence College, Ghoragali, are agitated at the news that the names of the houses which serve as boys’ hostels are about to be changed.
Lawrence College, named for Sir Henry Lawrence, who died during the 1857 War of Independence while defending Lucknow on behalf of the British, was originally meant as an asylum for the children of British soldiers and civilians killed in the war. An orphanage was established in his memory in 1860 at Ghoragali in the Murree Hills. Later it developed into a full-fledged public school but never lost its British character. Only a handful of students of Indian-origin were admitted into the school, and even that was during the 1930s. It was only after independence that local students from the areas now comprising Pakistan were freely admitted.
The school retained the name Lawrence College until 1973, when the first PPP government decided that Henry Lawrence’s brutal actions against the Indian people was not in keeping with the spirit of independence that inspired the revolt against British rule in 1857. Consequently, the school was renamed Ghoragali College, and the four houses — Peake, Walker, Wightwick and Wright — were renamed after our own heroes — Iqbal, Jinnah, Babar and Tipu.
During the 1980s, some old students managed to have the name changed back to Lawrence College, but failed in their attempts to reverse the names of the houses to their original states. This lasted till late 2010, when it was decided to rename the houses after the British reverends who had been principals of the school — Walker, Wright, Peake and Wrightwick.
The old boys maintain that since this country reveres the names of Jinnah, Iqbal, Babar and Tipu, once the Houses were renamed after them, it is not right that they should be so changed back to the British reverends who had nothing to do with either India’s Muslims or Pakistan, since during their time in charge, no natives were allowed to be admitted for study in the college.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.