Why Aitchison is the nation’s best school

Published: August 27, 2013
The writer is an A-Level student at Aitchison College, Lahore

The writer is an A-Level student at Aitchison College, Lahore

A common thread unites a disparate group of great Pakistanis, each of whom has made a mark on the nation’s landscape. What does Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have in common with Adnan Sami? What links the mild-mannered Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to the fiery Akbar Bugti? The answer lies in a single educational establishment at the heart of Lahore, which has produced some of the finest gentlemen in Pakistan: Aitchison.

Aitchison produces the perfect gentleman. An Aitchisonian exudes a well-cultivated air of confidence without appearing conceited. This is combined with unassuming intelligence and a sense of purpose. However, more than anything else, a good Aitchisonian is almost always gentlemanly — embodying all the values that it implies.

The school’s traditions and philosophy of what it means to succeed, may not always produce better scholastic rankings than other premier schools but it does result in the Aitchisonian having a broader breadth of experience and a more rounded (some might even say more charismatic) personality.

Sportsmanship as much as sporting excellence: the school’s philosophy has always been that healthy bodies make healthy minds and that sportsmanship as much as sporting excellence is key to building character.

With the sprawling campus spread over 200 acres, Aitchison College is one of Pakistan’s largest educational institutes. On first setting gaze at the splendour of the architecture and vista of green grounds, fellow students from visiting rival schools are left in speechless awe (and possibly, a lifetime of envy).

History connecting the past with future: Aitchison College’s iconic Old Building, designed and built by Sir Ganga Ram, is quintessential Lahore of old, with the power to take its beholders on a trip through time and thoughts of great past students who had graced the school.

Unity, faith and discipline at Aitchison: while some of the brightest in Lahore and Karachi may attend LGS and KGS respectively, diversity defines Aitchison. The school takes particular pride in the fact that there is representation not only from Punjab, but also from Balochistan, Fata, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. The school’s scholarship system ensures that children from every social background attend Aitchison. If the rest of Pakistan could be as harmonious as Aitchison despite its ethnic, sectarian and social diversity, we would be a different country. Despite a multitude of backgrounds, all are united in upholding the motto “Perseverance Commands Success”.

Aitchison College’s singular focus on building character and devotion to duty shines through in producing success stories in almost every sphere of human activity. That the alumni have excelled in a vast array of callings and careers speaks volumes for the school’s ability to draw the best out each of its students

At Aitchison, there is hunger for innovation but respect for tradition at the same time. When the foundation stone for the college was laid on November 3, 1886, Sir Charles Umpherston Aitchison said, “This is an institution from which you will banish everything in thought and word and act that is mean, dishonourable or impure, and in which you will cultivate everything that is virtuous, true, manly and gentlemanly.”

Even after 127 years, Aitchisonians aspire to live up to these inspiring words and each in his own unique manner succeeds in doing so.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (55)

  • Nadir
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:39AM

    Have you attended every school in Pakistan that you are declaring that Atchison is the best school in the country?

    An Aitchisonian exudes a well-cultivated air of confidence without appearing conceited Says the person who writes about it in a national paper.

    Awaiting with bated breath, “Why KGS is the best school” etc etc etc.


  • Anonym
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:42AM

    Aahhh. Complan works so well.


  • Pagal Panchi
    Aug 27, 2013 - 1:08AM

    Dear Op-Ed editor, you seem seriously desperate for writings and that’s why you’ve been continuously putting these stupid blogs here on the opinion pages. Though, if the blog makes sense, there’s nothing wrong with includingit here but such childish content doesn’t really go with the standard of ET.


  • Four
    Aug 27, 2013 - 1:14AM

    “Aitchison produces the perfect gentleman”

    It doesn’t get anymore pretentious than this folks.


  • saadat
    Aug 27, 2013 - 2:13AM

    What about the hefty amount of fees that Aitchison charges?


  • Fawad
    Aug 27, 2013 - 3:58AM

    It is sad that a national newspaper would publish this on its web front page. I don’t want to be hyper-critical of the young man who clearly takes pride in his institution but unfortunately this is little more than an 8th grade level advertising blurb. It demonstrates exactly what modern Pakistani students, even in elite institutions, lack: a critical and questioning mind and a spirit of inquiry without mindless deference. The piece does not discuss any challenges faced by students at the school, any civic or moral engagement that animates the student body or anything unique that this prestigious institution of privileged kids contributes to the society at large.

    “Aitchison produces the perfect gentleman.” Really? Must be a wildly different place now than when I attended.


  • From Eton
    Aug 27, 2013 - 4:29AM

    ok I am not from Eton but I am from supposedly the best school in India credited with producing top ranking politicians. And before I am discredited I might add that I spent a resonable time with graduates from Aitchison.
    And I hate to say this but Santa is not real. Perhaps most of us are guilty of having these self indulgent notions in our teenage but then we grow up. So the truth is Aitchison is Aitchison because Pakistan is still a feudal society but will not remain forever. And when it moves towards a modern system, graduates from MIT and IITs will rule the world so the bottom line is its best to gun for top technical institutes unless offcourse you have few thousand acres land in Sindh in which case you can sit under chandeliers in Golf clubs and discuss world poverty.


  • Imran
    Aug 27, 2013 - 7:51AM

    Academia, Sports, Medicine, Science, Art, Literature…. In the last 125 years, Aitchison could not produce a single celebrated high achiever (family backed politicians don’t count) except Imran Khan.
    Compare that with Punjab University, THREE Nobel Laureates. Shame!


  • inquistive
    Aug 27, 2013 - 9:31AM

    So, ET newspaper has come down to this? !!!

    They are publishing the school works of children now..

    A good essay titled “My School”… And no more.. Students of every school write such things in the subject essay..

    PS: Being an old Atchisonian myself, i share the same feelings and thoughts as @Fawad..


  • Ahmed
    Aug 27, 2013 - 10:05AM

    Aitcheson is good at producing Pro western policy individuals. Kulsoom Bai Valika School had produced the great Crcketer Mohsin Hasan Khan. NED Engg.University had produced Saeed Anwar, Rashid Lateef,Asif Mujtaba, Hasan Sardar the National Hockey Legend,What are the contributions of Aitchosonians for Pakistan except one Imran Khan ?


  • Wonderer
    Aug 27, 2013 - 10:17AM

    I am yet to meet a gentleman who is also an Aitchisonian.


  • Really?
    Aug 27, 2013 - 10:19AM

    ET, please.


  • Chalo
    Aug 27, 2013 - 10:23AM

    Everyone criticising this article calling it immature think their criticism is reflecting maturity?


    Learn to appreciate. All articles are not for criticism, but sometimes a person expressing him/herself.

    And all you people from India or Pakistan always try to search for points to criticise rather than make an effort to find something to appreciate in what you see.

    And then ask for progression?

    Again, pity.

    Ali, this is a well written article. Your sentiments clearly show your ambitions to succeed, starting to write at a young age and writing what you want to.

    Ps: I am not commenting out of sympathy, but sincerity. And also disgusted by the commentators who think that everything is published to be criticised.


  • Farhan
    Aug 27, 2013 - 11:25AM

    Young man… from a old Aitchisonian to you, a young Aitchisonian… Why you or i or any young boy who starts at Aitchison at K-1 and leaves it at Hsc 2 will love Aitchison is simply because of the fact that we have spent the most important part of our lives here. Becuase it gives us a lifetime of memories and friends that last us the lifetime we live. Just like you and i would have loved Saint Anthony if we had studied there. The things you mention do not make Aitchison the best, they make Aitchison… well… Aitchison. And if spending 13 years at Aitchison make me arrogant, then Aitchison certainly failed.


  • Sameera Rashid
    Aug 27, 2013 - 11:27AM

    @ ET: How could you publish this blog on the front page ?
    Pakistan cannot offer half of its kids decent schools- the definition of decent is only schools with desks and chairs- and here someone is bragging that Aitchison is Pakistan’s best school. No doubt, in an educational calamity like ours , it can be our best school.
    @ Author:How do you define best? Does it produce world class scientists, doctors and engineers?
    Does it produce creative writers and thinkers?
    Does it produce philanthropists, human rights activists and environmentalists? Perhaps not more than Beaconhouse, LGS, City and many other schools.
    List of eminent personalities, as recounted in this blog, are mostly politicians and this class has , unfortunately, remained elitist because of our chequered political history. So, its not a big deal if past and current politicians go to Aitichison, after all politics is not meritocratic in Pakistan.

    You are brilliant kid! So think of poor kids in Pakistan and think about good solutions to provide them decent education- here decent does not mean classrooms with desks and chairs but education that turns kids into active and productive citizens.


  • Grammarian
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:04PM

    Well-written piece. Superb turn of phrase, “An Aitchisonian exudes a well-cultivated air of confidence without appearing conceited.” Love it. Although I’m sure not always true, it does make me wish I had attended Aitchison.


  • stupid
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:06PM

    Me too. Aitchison is a brand name for brand concious not for character building.


  • Ibrahim Tariq
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:10PM

    Pakistanis lack the courage to appreciate. Enough said.


  • Fayez Qamar
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:27PM

    …yet all you people will at one point try (or have already tried) to put your sons into Aitchison College… some will succeed and “like” the same article 10 yrs from now…others will fail and continue to “hate” …

    Please do not get me wrong… I do not defend this child! His article is totally contrary to what his text suggests … “conceited”.


  • Anand
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:40PM


    “Compare that with Punjab University, THREE Nobel Laureates. Shame!”

    Can you please tell their names.


  • Victim of Aitchisonin "chivalry"
    Aug 27, 2013 - 12:52PM

    Oh God… my eyes. they burn.


  • R2D2
    Aug 27, 2013 - 1:02PM

    using imran khan and intelligent and gentleman in the same sentence is odd


  • Laila
    Aug 27, 2013 - 1:16PM

    My father attended Aitchison as a boarder in the late 1950s to early 60s. It was the darkest period of his life, which he rarely talks about. From the little information he has shared with me of his time there, he says it was an institution filled with immense bullying and harassment. Some of the trauma he experienced as a young boarder there still haunts him. I guess not everyone has had as a lovely of an experience as the young author of this piece.


  • Ali
    Aug 27, 2013 - 1:55PM

    I actually met lot of Aitchisonians, and to be honest, i have never seen so many stuck up people than the one from Aitchison. What’s their crowning achievement? Yes, they are born in a rich family and they can claim that they went to the best school on earth.


  • Brutus
    Aug 27, 2013 - 2:43PM

    My dear friend, on your next study tour come to Islamabad and visit International School of Islamabad…your heart will be filled with envy for the rest of your life….:P


  • Funny
    Aug 27, 2013 - 3:15PM

    Tell me aside from landlords and the privileged, tell me who how many scientists, literary figures, poets and so on have been produced. Zero to none.Recommend

  • Mr. Chucky
    Aug 27, 2013 - 4:44PM

    if you have to write yourself to tell people how good some place you attended is, chances are it might not be that good.Recommend

  • IHA
    Aug 27, 2013 - 5:14PM

    Yo Ali, I’m really happy for your alma mater and Imma let you finish, but Cadet College Hasanabdal is the best Pakistani school of all time. OF ALL TIME!!



  • excalibur
    Aug 27, 2013 - 5:21PM

    What a self conceited ‘selfie’ equivalent. So full of himself. Indeed he loves his teacher and the school Nothing can get grosser than this and to get it printed is the icing on the garbage cake


  • Aug 27, 2013 - 8:36PM

    Sadly ET has stooped to new levels.


  • Ahmad Shah Nawaz
    Aug 27, 2013 - 8:55PM

    Wow, Seems ET is fine with being an advertisement vehicle for anyone willing to write an essay in English. Is it worthy of an Op-Ed? Compare it with Op-Ed pages of NYtimes or Washington post . Do you ever see a phony high school student gloating about the gentlemanly attributes of its institution – be it Harvard? I would have loved to see ET publish an account of a boy writing his experience about something genuine and personal ( entry tests drama etc. ).


  • Ali Tanoli
    Aug 27, 2013 - 8:57PM

    what a shame we havenot build one good such intititution in 70 years…..


  • Haider
    Aug 27, 2013 - 8:58PM

    Aitchison College produces world-class physicists and engineers. So I was told by somebody from Aitchison — and he was both a gentleman and athlete, so I believed him.


  • Muhammad imran
    Aug 27, 2013 - 9:18PM

    The quality of an institution is defined by the success of its students. From Olympic Gold medalists (Hassan Sardar) to the top innovators in technology (Umar Saif) Aitchison has helped students from all walks of life achieve success in their respective fields. Once you are enrolled as a student at this institution it does not matter who your father is or which family you belong to everyone is the same. So to all those people who say Aitchisonians excel in life due to their privileged position in society I ask you did Imran win his World Cup because of family connections, or did Adnan Sami use his family influence to become a famous singer or did Syed Babar Ali buy his success in business. Whether it be sportsmen, businessmen, scientists, entertainers, politicians or any other field of life you are sure to find an Aitchisonian at the top of it.
    The best part about Aitchison College is that even with its diverse student body your religious, political or ethic backgrounds are never discussed.
    Why Aitchison produces the best of Pakistan? Its the same reason as why Harvard produces the greatest minds of America, because they are the most talented. The rigorous admission process ensure the quality of the students and yes does family matters for your admission, just like when you have an advantage if you have kinship at any other great institution (Harvard & Cambridge). So please stop hating and be proud of what the students of this great institution have achieved for our country.


  • RHS
    Aug 27, 2013 - 9:33PM

    As a KGS graduate I beg to differ……


  • Khan
    Aug 27, 2013 - 9:53PM

    It is very disheartening to see all the negative commentary on this article. The author does a very good job of expressing his personal beliefs of the school. As an ex-Aitchisonian myself, I do not agree with all the opinions of the author but I believe in his right to having a different view than I do. He has done an excellent job of articulating his points, whereas people in the comments section have not provided any factual data to discredit the article. I would love to read articles on other schools being the greatest in the country and thus learn more about them. So students of Hassan Abdal or International School of Islamabad should make their case with facts.

    As far as notable alumni go, there are a plethora of statesmen who the author has already mentioned but there are several others. One of the brightest legal minds of Pakistan, Aitzaz Ahsan is an alum, and so is the brilliant industrialist Syed Babar Ali. Cricketers include Ramiz Raja, Majid Khan, Imran Khan, and Wahab Riaz. Aitchison does have some of the best facilities as far as schools go in Pakistan and the government should take an active interest in promoting the well-rounded educational methodology of Aitchison College.


  • anisa
    Aug 27, 2013 - 11:23PM

    Great comments. In fact, I would advise skipping the article and getting straight to the comments. While I am sure this young man is well-intentioned and feels much pride and zest for the institution that schools him, he represents the key ingredient that this fantastic education did not afford him: humility. It is more a self-congratulatory press release than a critical, analytical article on Aitchison, but this point has already been made and far more eloquently in the above comments.

    All is not lost. It does however make a very good point. Any educational institution can toot its own horn, or ask a student/alumni to do it for them and say, “This is an institution from which you will banish everything in thought and word and act that is mean, dishonourable or impure, and in which you will cultivate everything that is virtuous, true, manly and gentlemanly.”
    Lets find one that teaches you how to question “mean”, “dishonorable”, “impure”, “virtuous”, “true”, “manly” and “gentlemanly”. Then lets leave the issuing of generous adjectives and accolades to others. Might be slightly more “gentlemanly” since that seems to be top priority.


  • ali
    Aug 27, 2013 - 11:56PM

    “An Aitchisonian exudes a well-cultivated air of confidence without appearing conceited.”

    and then you contradict yourself immediately in your own article numerous times.

    “On first setting gaze at the splendour of the architecture and vista of green grounds, fellow students from visiting rival schools are left in speechless awe (and possibly, a lifetime of envy).”

    i have met a few aitchisonians in my college days and nearly all of them had this habit of fishing for compliments and bragging.


  • Tooba
    Aug 28, 2013 - 12:28AM

    I think that that its in the people not in the instituition that makes them great.Not everyone in Aichison comes out as a great man and not everyone in some xyz government high school becomes a non gentlmen.Greatness is hidden inside a person.So anyone can be great and if he does,school has to bragg about him,its what schools do.


  • Amna Fraz
    Aug 28, 2013 - 1:03AM

    He’s just a boy who is proud of his educational institution. I think we should cut him some slack-

    Sadly, it is trendy for Pakistanis today to be ashamed of their country and to constantly bad mouth all it has to offer. As a nation our vision is very negative and our level of tolerance is alarmingly low.

    Personally i think it is rather endearing to see someone who is so proud of his school.


  • RHS
    Aug 28, 2013 - 2:14AM

    First question: Is Aitchinson coed? If not then how can it be the best school?


  • Anon
    Aug 28, 2013 - 7:35AM

    too bad Aitchison does not offer writing classes..


  • Zalam Singh
    Aug 28, 2013 - 10:20AM

    That does it. ET = Unsubscribed


  • dada
    Aug 28, 2013 - 11:01AM

    plz come out of illusion that Lahore is at top of everything in Pakisan


  • Saki
    Aug 28, 2013 - 11:09AM

    I’ve seen very few Op-Ed generate as much heat and discussion as this particular one. The comments are more biased towards the negative than positive. That makes sense since those who like the article simply press the ‘like’ tab to express their approval. While those who disapprove have to take a bit more trouble and write something down.

    Many of the detractors make valid points about elitism of the school. There is merit to that argument but aren’t Eton, Harrow and Philip’s Academy not elitist. Are MIT, Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford not also elitist? Despite various grants, loans, and bur series, the vast majority of alumni of these prestigious institutions come from relatively privileged backgrounds. It does not make it right, but it doesn’t take away from the greatness of these institutions.

    With regards to ‘which particular school is the best?’, the arguments will never cease. Every child should feel his or her school is the best in the world. One wishes more could feel as passionately, and write as well as the author, about their respective schools. It would be a joy to see alumni of KGS, BeaconHouse, LGS, Cad Colleges et al, wax lyrical on their respective schools on this very Op-Ed page.

    I salute ET for taking the lead and hope it publishes many more such tributes to the great institutions in Pakistan.

    I salute ET for taking the lead and hope it publishes many more such tributes to the great institutions in Pakistan.


  • OKL
    Aug 28, 2013 - 1:35PM

    So the question is, if not Aitchison school/College then which is the best school/college in Pakistan?


  • Mus
    Aug 28, 2013 - 1:57PM

    Ok students time for your final exam. The question once again, as it has been for the past 10 years is “Describe why aitchison is so great” . The one with the least grammatical errors and big words will get their paper printed at tribune where we have some ‘jan pehchaan’. Also try to incorporate the word ‘gentlemanly’ as much as possible. We like it and want to use it as our school motto. No wait, since this is a boys only school that word might be taken in the wrong way.


  • Shamima
    Aug 28, 2013 - 3:08PM

    I had a Bengali friend who was an Aitcheson Drop-out. His father was a senior Civil Servant serving in the then West Pakistan. He forced his parents to take him out of the school threatening suicide. Why? I asked him. He said ‘Can you imagine what it was like being the only Bingo ( Bengali) in Aitcheson?’ This was in the late 60s.Recommend

  • MK
    Aug 28, 2013 - 9:12PM

    You must be joking with this article. It might be the best “boarding school” in Pakistan.

    A few years ago, perhaps a decade, CollegeBoard lauded KGS for having the highest average SAT score in the world. That’s academics for you.

    Graduates from the same institute are found in higher positions in the coprorate sector, and tend to be more well rounded – please feel free to browse career networking sites such as LinkedIn for verification.

    And yes, I’m a proud Grammarian – and no, LGS has nothing to do with KGS.

    Indocti Discant is our motto.


  • Silent Observer
    Sep 3, 2013 - 10:50AM

    I can say from personal experience that Aitchisonians are by no means all perfect gentlemen and that the ones I am acquainted with tend, to exude buckets of conceit from their every pore.

    That established, Aitchison does deserve credit for its fantastic campus but the quality of its current student body is really nothing to write home about relative to the other good schools in the country.

    Its not a question of Aitchisons relative elitism but a question of what really distinguishes an educational institution as being “the best”. If Aitchison really is Pakistans best school, well, we probably have bigger problems than commenting on this article.


  • Monsoon
    Oct 13, 2013 - 3:44AM

    Gentleman’s school is a tool to strengthen rich and poor divide in the country.


    Oct 13, 2013 - 9:16PM

    I do not agree with the author as such privilaged institutions in 0ur country are attended by the rich and arrogant class who live among themselves and stayaway from ordinary people. I attended B V S Parsi school in karachi in mid sixties a reputed institution which had students from poor to rich imparting quality education and discipline. It was the only school which had compulsory technical education for eight and ninth graders as well as all the sport activities. In short what i am trying to reason is that a institution should not be evalued on the basis of high tuition cost but serving the society in general.


  • Shakil
    Oct 17, 2013 - 2:43AM

    Just like any elite school ie Eaton, Harrow, or Aitchison, they are only famous for producing elite politicians not scientists and most people will admire and also hate it for own reasons. We can all get together for hating it for obvious reasons. If we leave that aside, it is one of the best and good schools of Pakistan. IMHO LGS, KGS etc are too commercial!


  • Sohraab
    Oct 17, 2013 - 3:57PM

    Calling AKBAR BUGTI….a Gentleman??
    I am confused now!


  • Sohraab
    Oct 17, 2013 - 4:00PM

    Array Chalo Yaar!


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