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Langlands turns 100

October 22, 2017

LAHORE: Major Geoffrey Douglas Langlands’ centenarian birthday was celebrated at Aitchison College on Saturday to honour his remarkable services to the country.

The event held at the residence of the college principal was attended by a number of his former colleagues, academics, and students.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Punjab Higher Education Minister Raza Ali Gillani, UK Defence and Military Adviser Brig. B P Edwards OBE, Syed Babar Ali, Arif Saeed, Prof Javed Akram, Kamil Khan Mumtaz, PITB Chairman Umar Saif, Salman Akram Raja, Mian Muhammad Afzal Hayat, Yousuf Salahuddin and Mian Gul Adnan Aurangzeb were also present.

Mr Langlands arrived with Aitchison College Principal Michael Thomson and was given guard of honour. Maj. Langlands was born on Oct 21, 1917 in Yorkshire England, 10 minutes before his twin brother John Langlands. After his initial education he became a school teacher in Croydon. After the Second World War broke out in 1939, he joined the British Army and volunteered for services in the Indian Army. When British India witnessed independence he was transferred to the Pakistan Army, which he willingly accepted.

He was holding the rank of a major when he retired. On the request of [president] Ayub Khan he stayed here and was given a job at Aitchison College in 1954. In 1974, he was made the head master of Prep School.

In 1979, he was appointed as principal to Razmak Cadet College. He served there till 1989 and took over as principal of Sayurj Public School, Chitral, which was at its initial stages.

Langlands developed the school, expanded it, purchased land for it and made constructions thereon after raising funds for it.

The school was renamed after him and is now called the Langlands School and College, Chitral. Langlands served as the principal till the age of 95.

Langlands was honoured with Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Order of St. Michael and St. George, Order of British Empire and OBE by the Queen of England for his lifelong contribution to humanity and education.

Maj. Langlands had suffered a stroke in March this year. Initially, his right side was totally paralysed. He had recovered from the setback after going through physiotherapy but not completely. He is able to move his right leg and arm to feed him.

Speaking on the occasion, Advocate Ali Sibtain Fazli said Mr Langlands also faced financial difficulties during his struggle to build the school and was living in a ramshackle little cottage.

LHC Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said he remembered his prep school days at Aitchison in 1972 to 1975 when Mr Langlands was headmaster and [he] also taught students arithmetic, nowadays it’s called mathematics. He said he found him a wonderful person and wish him happy birthday.

Principal Langlands School Ms. Carey Scholfield spoke of Langlands’ services to the country.

Principal Aitchison College Michael A. Thomson presented to him the Queen of England’s telegram for his birthday.

The Chitral Association for Education and Health also presented an award to Maj. Langlands.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2017