A COURT in Pakistan has ruled in favour of the Church of Pakistan in a dispute with the regional government over the governance of Edwardes College, the only Anglican Higher Education institution in the country.
On Thursday of last week, the Anglican Communion News Service reported: “Interference in Edwardes College from the Governor of Peshawar over the past few months had forced the Bishop of Peshawar, Humphrey Peters, to defend its independence and its governance and budgets from being revised. The High Court ruling this week blocked the local government’s attempts to interfere in College affairs. . .
“It has been under threat from a take-over for many years after the Peshawar governor set up a Board of Governors for the College without any legal backing.
“Following a High Court judgement in favour of the Church of Pakistan last year, the Bishop had restored the College Board of Governors, but the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been fighting the judgement and continuing to attempt to influence college affairs and management.
“The Church hopes this week’s High Court ruling will mark the end of the battle for independence and protection for this one remaining Christian institution in Pakistan.”
Bishop Peters, who is also the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, said: “All the time we have been fighting to secure the Anglican identity of the College. We are trying to retain and maintain the identity of the Church in Pakistan in these difficult situations.”
Edwardes College was founded in 1900 by the Church Missionary Society and transferred to the Lahore Diocesan Trust Association in 1956. Tensions between the Government and the diocese are long-standing and have been documented by a former Principal, Dr Robin Brooke-Smith (Books, 11 October 2013).
This week, his successor, the Revd Dr David Gosling, said: “The Board as it stands represents all the constituencies involved in the college: the teaching staff, the local church, the University of Peshawar, and the provincial government; and the Governor chairs it — a great honour for a small college. The Bishop wants total control and that is not in the college’s interests or that of its academic standards or the participation of women, which was my top priority.”
In 2013, the College received a £2-million grant from the Pakistani government, accompanied by changes to its governance (News, 22 February 2013).