The principal of Pakistan’s most famous school has been virtually confined to his on-campus bungalow for a month following a bitter falling out with the board of governors, who he says object to reforms that allegedly cost the grandchildren of some of the most powerful men in the country coveted places.

Agha Ghazanfar, a distinguished academic and former senior bureaucrat, is banned by a high court order from running Aitchison college or even walking on the extensive lawns of its vast campus in Lahore.

He has said he is filling his time writing a “prisoner’s diary” about the bizarre limbo he is caught up in after taking legal action against the college’s decision in July to sack him just seven months after he took over.

Although the Lahore high court initially overturned Ghanzanfar’s dismissal, it later ruled that he could not do his job while legal action grinds on – but could use his official residence.

Established by the British in 1886 to teach princelings, Aitchison remains a bastion of the country’s elite, with many senior figures educated in its grand buildings.

Speaking to the Guardian from his home in the school grounds, Ghazanfar described the school as “like a microcosm of the country as a whole”, claiming that is “rife with corruption, mismanagement and nepotism”.

He said: “Before I came I was told the biggest challenge will be withstanding the pressure of politicians, rich businessman, people who command huge amounts of resources because the tradition was that seats could be purchased.”

Ghazanfar arrived in December after his long-standing predecessor stepped down amid controversy about entrance exam results being allegedly fudged to favour the low-scoring children of powerful alumni.

At the time the then governor of Punjab province, the former Glasgow MP Mohammad Sarwar, had caused consternation among many alumni by pushing for a strict merit-only entry system that ignored traditional considerations of “kinship”.

Ghazanfar pressed ahead with cleaning up the admissions process after a tipoff from one of the state intelligence agencies that members of staff were selling exam papers for 2m rupees (£12,000) each.

Ghazanfar swapped an exam at 6am on the morning of the test with one of his own devising.

The teachers scheduled to mark the papers were also switched and the scoring was strictly supervised in a room monitored by security cameras. Parents were also invited to come and examine the papers after detailed examination marks were published on the school website.

While the measures ensured clean results, the grandchildren of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, billionaire banking tycoon Mian Mansha and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the recently unseated speaker of the national assembly, missed out on a place.

Ghazanfar claims that in the aftermath he came under direct pressure from board members who at the time were attempting to renegotiate his contract.

While he was away on holiday in the UK in July, the board, which is dominated by alumni, announced his contract had been terminated. No official reason was given publicly, though a 200-page report produced by the board and leaked to the media alleged that he had taken major decisions about admissions, staffing and the college’s finance without consulting other senior members of staff, including the headteachers of Aitchison’s junior and prep schools.

Sadiq, whose son Ali Ayaz Sadiq is a board member, told Pakistani TV that Ghazanfar was guilty of corruption and misconduct. Ali Ayaz Sadiq denied he had used his position on the board to intervene for the sake of his son.

“I can very categorically say I would not want my six year old to think he can get something he doesn’t deserve right at the start of his life,” he said.

Board members contacted by the Guardian refused to divulge why they sacked Ghazanfar.

Khawaja Tariq Rahim, a former governor of Punjab and a legal adviser to the board, said the school had opted to terminate Ghazanfar’s contract “without stigma” in order to stop details of the dispute becoming public. “The college did not want to wash dirty linen in public, which is good for him and good for the college,” he said.

Many of Lahore’s affluent parents say Aitchison is a school in decline, with academic results that have fallen far behind other less famous private schools.

But the school – still known locally as “Chiefs’ College” – continues to attract enormous numbers of applicants, nearly all of whom enter at junior school level, requiring six-year-olds to be subjected to competitive exams and interviews.

“The policy of judging a six-year-old by how he performs on one particular day is very unfair,” Ali Ayaz Sadiq said. “But although I disagree I support it because that is what the board has decided.”

Courtesy: The Guardian