British Raj: Remembering a commissioner

Published: March 30, 2012
A event organised at Frere Hall to remember Sindh’s first commissioner. PHOTO: EXPRESS

A event organised at Frere Hall to remember Sindh’s first commissioner. PHOTO: EXPRESS


The British not only provided a roadmap for the Sindhi language but they encouraged Sindhi writers to move fast on the road of literacy, said speakers at a seminar to mark the 197th birthday of Sindh’s first commissioner, Sir Henry Edward Bartle Frere, on Thursday.

The event was organised by the University of Karachi Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai chair and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation at Frere Hall, one of the well preserved buildings from the British Raj.

“When Sindh came under British rule in 1843, the Sindhi language did not have a uniform script,” said Dr Sahar Imdad Hussaini, a professor from the University of Sindh. “When Frere become commissioner of the province, he issued a decree in 1851 which made it compulsory for people to use Sindhi at work instead of Persian.”

She added that in 1853, Frere formed a committee with equal number of Hindus and Muslims, which unanimously decided to come up with a Sindhi script incorporating Persian and Arabic.

While speaking at the event, most speakers commented on Frere’s contribution to the twin cities ie, Karachi and Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay.

“Although it was his duty to do so, we are very grateful to him,” they said. “These days a civil servant is a person who does nothing.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 30, 2012 - 7:57AM

    Good recognition for a great man, Bartle Frere. Perhaps you should also comment on his contributions in South Africa, especially Cape Town, of whose he was also a Commissioner after Sindh.


  • SK - Salman
    Mar 31, 2012 - 5:13AM

    It is disheartening to see the practice of renaming buildings, streets, bridges, and neighborhoods named after people like Commissioner Frere, Sir Charles Napier, Burns, Preedy, Elphinstone, and multitude of others who contributed so much in developing Karachi and Sindh. They are part of our history and their names should be preserved and honored by keeping intact the landmarks named after them.

    As a Karachiite, I am pleased and proud to hear that a seminar was held to mark the birthday of Karachi’s first commissioner, Mr. Frere. Congratulations to the organizers of the event.


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