Editor’s Note: Maj (R) Javed Khan Tareen’s parent unit is 45 Fd Regt Arty, he joined Army Avn in 1969 and later joined PIA as a commercial pilot. After the retirement from PIA, he has settled in Islamabad.
Chitral, the remote and picturesque mountainous district of KPK, has been for some time now fortunate to have a quality private school for its boys and girls and the level of education imparted there could be compared to any international standard. This school began on the initiative of the old ruling family of Chitral when some of their ladies gave their time, effort and private funds. They also invited young teachers from England who were family friends to start the venture which was named Sayurj Public School (Sayurj means eagle in Khowar language). Soon this became an establishment which attracted more funds from local and foreign philanthropists considering the romantic and historic background of this once princely state.
This was in the late 1988 and because of the Jihad going on next door in Afghanistan, Chitral featured prominently in the foreign press. The religious fringe which never had much say in Chitral also started making inroads and soon the usual cases of intolerance and bigotry started to surface. The religious right consider secular education as the biggest threat to their dogma and this school was soon in the cross hairs.
The provincial administration took over the school but agreed to a Board of Governors who favored a well-rounded education. A retired English Don who had long taught at Aitchison College Lahore was invited to become the Head Master and the Board of Governors agreed to change the name after him, as he yielded clout with old Aitchisonians who were in prominent positions, and thus the flow of funds increased, a new campus came into being and the school was named Langlands School. However, Major Geoffrey D. Langlands was already an old man well into his 80s and easily came under the influence of the provincial government despite the school having a Board of Governors. Later, the school was upgraded as a college.
This was the time when MMA ruled the then NWFP and soon the school had a lot of Jamaati teachers on the staff and the school started to fail. Parents lost interest, the standard of education slipped with the students losing heart and it became the usual sad story of another educational institution sacrificed to religiosity. It is to the credit of prince Siraj ul Mulk of Chitral who persuaded Langlands to retire who then shifted to Lahore to live on the premises of Aitchison College. Prince Siraj ul Mulk also happens to own and run one of the best hotels in the world, Hindukush Heights, who has played host to Hollywood greats like Robert De Niro, most foreign ambassadors credited to Pakistan, as this hotel is the only one in Chitral with the standard enjoyed by international dignitaries.
After the retirement of Langlands, a very capable and highly qualified English lady was invited in 2013 to take over as the head. Carey Schofield (author of many books, including, “Inside the Pakistan Army: A Woman’s Experience on the Frontline of the War on Terror”) the incumbent Principal has done wonders for the school, to her credit fearlessly she sacked all those teachers who were not performing, it came as no surprise that most of them were members of the Jamaat-e- Islami. Backlog of fees that had not been paid was collected and in a short period of one year the school became a center of educational excellence.
She has not drawn a salary since starting work, her dedication and the achievement of imparting education is her only reward. After the PTI run government came into being, their coalition partners, the Jamaat-e-Islami, have made it their mission to influence education because that is where you seed your ideology. Langlands School & College is under pressure to take back all the Jamaati teachers, the local DCO in Chitral, a Jamaati appointee, is the instrument of their influence and a campaign to remove Carey Schofield has been mounted. Cleverly they have employed the help of Langlands who in his late 90s is a senile old man who does not even remember his own name but has influence with old Aitchisonians like Imran Khan and Chaudary Nisar Ali Khan (Federal Interior Minister).
Fabricated stories have been fed against the incumbent Principal and without approval of the Board of Governors the DCO paraded Langlands in Chitral and quoting his preference appointed a new head at the same time blocking the renewal of Ms Schofield’s visa. Besides gaining control and destroying this institution the DCO and his party are eyeing the considerable funds that the Langlands School & College has generated from donors and parents alike.
The present situation is a stalemate as the parents and students of the Langlands School & College have refused to accept this change and threatened not to allow the school and the college to reopen unless Carey Schofield is re-instated. The recent Local Bodies elections have been won by the Jamaat candidates and with their own man as the DCO one does not need to be a clairvoyant to guess which way the wind is blowing in once peaceful and idyllic Chitral.
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