Track-II educationist

Air Commodore (Retd.) Farooq H. Kiyani is the principal of Lawrence College, Ghora Gali (LCGG), Murree (Pakistan). An alumnus of Leeds University, UK, Kiyani signed up with the education branch of the Pakistan Air Force in 1968 and graduated to the position of director, and subsequently commandant of the Air Force Cadet College in his 32-year military-cum-academic career until his retirement in 2000. In 2002, he was appointed principal of LCGG (estb.1860). Sprawled over 150 acres in the foothills of the Himalayas, LCGG is Pakistan’s most respected class I-XII boys’ boarding school with an aggregate enrolment of 730 students.

Newspeg. On April 12, Kiyani together with a 20-member LCGG delegation comprising 15 students and three teachers visited the campus of the fraternal Lawrence School, Sanawar. During their eight-day visit, LCGG students participated in the annual Hodson’s Run and founder’s day celebrations of Lawrence, Sanawar with Kiyani presiding over the prize distribution ceremony as chief guest.

Shared history. Sited in the hill resort town of Murree, LCGG is one of three schools established in the mid-19th century by Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence (1806-1857) in the sub-continent for children of deceased and serving soldiers and officers of British military personnel in India. The other two are the Lawrence School, Sanawar (estb.1847) and Lawrence, Lovedale (1858).

Although official ties between LCGG and the eponymous schools in India were severed after partition in 1947, given their shared history, traditions and culture, their managements maint-ained informal ties. But since 2004 when Kiyani first visited Lawrence, Lovedale and later Lawrence, Sanawar in 2006, the latter school’s principal Praveen Vasisht reciprocated Kiyani’s visits with delegations of Lawrence, Sanawar students and teachers in 2008 and 2010. Kiyani’s re-visit to Lawrence, Sanawar again this year is evidence of growing warmth of relations between these two elite public (i.e private exclusive) schools and persistent track-II diplomacy between India and Pakistan.

Direct talk. “The Lawrence schools in the sub-continent share a common heritage and academic culture, as indeed do the people of our two neighbouring countries. With the shared friendships and memories of our generation fading away, our linkages will be lost forever if we don’t bring students and youth of our countries together. We have to learn from each other regardless of political differences. Student and teacher exchanges will make the difference and improve the relationship between our countries and build new friendships,” says Kiyani.

Autar Nehru (Delhi)