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Pakistan’s grant to Edwardes College

01 March 2013


From the Revd Dr David L. Gosling
Sir, - Your report "Pakistan gives grant to church college" ( News, 22 February) omits several factors that make it improbable that any such grant will ever be utilised.

Ownership of Edwardes College in Peshawar has been vested in the Lahore Diocesan Trust Association, chaired by the Bishop of Lahore, since the departure of the CMS in 1956, on behalf of all the dioceses in Pakistan, some of which are unlikely to want to see such a valuable property handed over to Peshawar diocese. There also seems to be some uncertainty whether or not the actual deeds were ever transferred, or remain in custody in London to prevent what many people fear, namely, that parts of the property will be sold for personal gain - which almost happened to the Peshawar Mission Hospital.

In 1973/74, Z. A. Bhutto's government nationalised private higher-education institutions, with the exception of Edwardes College, which was allowed to maintain its independence, provided the provincial Governor, and not the Bishop, chaired the Board. This compromise and others have worked effectively for more than a quarter of a century, and my own legal advice when I was Principal was that if the matter was ever referred to the Supreme Court, it would almost certainly rule that the present system should continue.

There is strong opposition to any accumulation of power in the hands of the diocese and the Bishop from within both the college and the diocese, and the current Board is unlikely to abolish itself to make way for a new regime in which - as your report suggests - the Bishop is the new university Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Governors, with the Governor of a province of 22 million people present as a mere member (in his capacity as Chancellor of Peshawar University).

In Pakistan, of all places, such a situation would be laughable.

I am sorry to cast a shadow over your report about a college that I came to love during my four years as Principal, but the current attempts to turn a fine educational institution into a business enterprise are unlikely to succeed, and are already proving counterproductive.

The proportion of women students has dropped in two years by almost half, a student killed himself very recently, and an investigation that I initiated into a huge embezzlement of college funds is still in progress. With the elections a month away, I wonder if the Chief Minister's offer of cash amounts to more than a theatrical gesture.

(former Principal of Edwardes College, Peshawar)
Clare Hall, Cambridge CB3 9AN

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