Major Geoffrey Langlands passes away in Lahore

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LAHORE: Retired Major Geoffrey Langlands — revered in Pakistan and abroad for his services in the education sector — passed away in Lahore at the age of 101 years. Among Langlands’ students were Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other high-profile personalities.

The premier in a tweet said he was saddened to learn of Langlands’ demise and posted a photo from his school days. “Apart from being our teacher, he instilled the love for trekking and our northern areas in me,” Khan wrote.

According to a Dawn report, During his life, Langlands was honoured with Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Order of St. Michael and St. George, and Order of British Empire by the Queen of England for his contribution to humanity and education.

Langlands was born on Oct 21, 1917 in Yorkshire, England. After his initial education, he became a school teacher in Croydon. He joined the British Army in 1939 and volunteered for services in the Indian Army in 1944. After partition of the subcontinent, 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 the then president, Ayub Khan, he stayed in Pakistan 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 asked to give up his comfortable job at Aitchison to take up a difficult but rewarding job in North Waziristan, a challenge he could not refuse. He was appointed as principal to Razmak Cadet College. He served there until 1989.

“More than 300 students from Razmak Cadet College made into the Army as commissioned officers — 17 made lieutenant colonels. They are some of the finest men today,” Langlands had said proudly back in 2010, remembering the school where he was principal for ten years.

Later, he 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 until the age of 95.

“Pakistan has lost a great friend and teacher of generations of its students,” said British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew on Twitter following Langlands’ demise.