UK Pak Christians want Edwardes College status restored

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LONDON: The British Pakistani Christian community has called on Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan to issue an executive Order to confirm that Edwardes College Peshawar will remain a private Christian institute and will not be nationalized.

The Christian community leaders have alleged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government of interfering in the affairs of Edwardes College. Numerous protest meetings have been held in the UK cities in one month and several more events are in the pipeline to draw attention of Pakistani establishments towards the concerns of Christian community.

A leading British Pakistani delegation of Christian community members met Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK Nafees Zakaria and educated him about the worries of the Christians.

They told the envoy about their disappointment over the recent decision by the Peshawar High Court to declare the Edwardes College, Peshawar a nationalized institution.

The delegation handed over a petition to the Pakistani envoy which said, “We believe that continuous and incessant interference in the college affairs; and harassment of the college principal by the KP government, and now the Peshawar High Court’s decision overturning its own earlier judgment, has created a sense of insecurity among the non-Muslim Pakistanis in general and Christians in particular.

The delegation included Councilor Dr. James Shera MBE, ex-Mayor of Rugby. Dr. Peter David, Councilor Morris Johns, Advocate Qamar Shams, Dr. Noshaba Khiljee. Mr Michael Massey and broadcaster Revd John Bosco.

“The college has been providing an outstanding education to students of all creeds and nationalities without discrimination over the past 120 years. It has produced some of the most famous Pakistanis in the fields of science, arts, literature, sports and armed forces.

It is worth recalling that the education standards in the Christian colleges, which were nationalized in 1974, have declined sharply.”

It added further, “Sir, you yourself had given an undertaking in 2014, that the college will not be nationalized and remain an independent Christian college.

We believe that this attempt to nationalize will lower the education service provided to the students in the KP.

It will harm the repute of Pakistan as a minority friendly country and negate your excellent speech at the UN recently. It is also against the vision of Pakistan, outlined in the father of nation’s speech of 11 Aug 1947.”

According to Christian community leaders, Edwardes College was established in 1900 by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and is a private educational institution funded by its own resources; no budget allocation is made by the provincial government for running the affairs of the institution and the college has independent financial as well as administrative status.

Even Edwardes College was not nationalized in 1971.

After the High Court verdict, government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa filed a petition under section 12(2) CPC in the Peshawar High Court against the Peshawar High Court judgment, which was dismissed on 18 September 2018 as the case was in Supreme Court. Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of main petitioner against the High Court decision in WP 105-P/2016 in April 2019. John Bosco said, “After the

dismissal of government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa petition under 12(2) CPC against the judgment of 105-P/2016, Bishop, Diocese of Peshawar, Church of Pakistan after informing the Governor, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan restored college BOG under the Edwardes College Constitution.

 “Peshawar High Court, Peshawar on 1 Oct 2019 dismissed Bishop’s writ petition and accepted government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s claim that Edwardes College stands nationalised under the governor’s notification of 1974 (written judgement still to follow).”

“Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa filed once again application under 12(2) CPC in June 2019 against the earlier judgement in the WP 105-P/16 with a claim that, Edwardes College has already been nationalized along with its property under the notification of 1974. Government requested the Peshawar High Court, Peshawar to set aside its earlier judgement in the WP 205-P/2016.