LAHORE - The Government College University, the oldest seat of learning in Pakistan, today (Sunday) completed 148 years of its life. It opened its eyes as Government College Lahore in the Haveli (palace) of Dhian Singh, in the Walled City, on January 01, 1864. The present 3,700-SqFt gothic-style majestic building of the GC University was completed in 1877 towards the north of the Soldiers Garden (Gol Bagh) with a cost of Rs320,000.

The College was initially affiliated with the Calcutta University as there was no university in this part of the sub-continent at the time. The Government College was raised to the status of University in 2002 and was renamed as GC University Lahore. From its first principle Dr. GW Lietner to second and sitting Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dr. Khaleequr Rahman, as many as 27 heads have served this great institution.

Talking to this reporter, Prof. Dr. Khaleeq said that the academic travel, which was started in 1864 with just nine students and three teachers, produced hundreds of towering literary figures, politicians, two Nobel Laureates, five prime ministers, numerous jurists, sportsmen and scientists. He said the College was established on the pattern of Cambridge and Oxford universities. “It is available in historical records that it was decided that all students of this college would get 10 to 15 rupees scholarship annually.”

In the first year, the fee of the college was Rs2 annually, which was deducted from a student’s scholarship. Keeping in view this very historical perspective of this educational institution, the VC said he has slashed the student fee by almost 35 per cent and increased their scholarships.

He proudly said that Poet of East Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, N.M Rashid, Patras Bukhari, Ashfaq Ahmad, Bano Qudsia; only Pakistani Nobel Laureate Prof Dr Abdus Salam, Chief Justice M. R. Kyani, Chief Justice Naseem Hassan Shah, Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, Justice (r) Khalil-ur-Rahman Ramday, Justice (r) Khawja Muhammad Sharif and Lahore High Court Chief Justice Shiekh Azamt Saeed are Old Ravians. He said that tennis star Aisam-ul-Haq, cricketers Amir Sohail, Ramiz Raja, Inzmam-ul-Haq and Salim Malik are also Old Ravians.

The GCU also produced five prime ministers, namely, Feroz Khan Noon, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Nawaz Sharif, Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Moeen Qureshi besides hundreds of political leaders, including Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Hanif Ramay and former governor Salman Taseer.

If you come to performing arts, noted Indian actor Dev Anand, Rafi Peer, Syed Imtiaz Ali Taj, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Ali Zafar, Hadiqa Kyani and Jawad Ahmad also studied in Government College Lahore, the Vice-Chancellor said and added that it needed a whole day to name all the prominent Old Ravians.

He paid tribute to the efforts of Dr Leitner, the first principle, who established it on the pattern of College of London (UK). He hoped he and his colleagues would try to maintain the wonderful traditions of academic excellence, research, promotion of new ideas and, above all, respect for others’ belief and views.

In his message on GCU’s birthday, noted nuclear scientist and Old Ravians Union president highlighted that the biggest contribution of GC University Lahore in the history of Pakistan, saying that out of 140 experts who carried nuclear explosions in 1998, as many as 60 were old Ravians and their team leaders who press the button for explosions were also the former students of the Government College Lahore. The University is holding a grand celebration on Monday (today) at 10:30am at the GCU Abdus Salam Hall to mark its 148th birthday.