“Aitchison College mourns the passing of Major Geoffrey Douglas Langlands, who left us quietly on Wednesday after a brief illness,” the institution announced on its official website.
Major Geoffery Douglas Langlands was a British educationist who spent most of his life teaching in leading schools in Pakistan, tutoring many of Pakistan’s elite. Major Langlands was posted to the Indian Army during World War II. After independence in 1947, he volunteered to stay on a while longer to help train the new Pakistani military. However, his momentary placement stretched into more than seven decades in Pakistan, during which time he left the army to become one of the country’s most illustrious and admired personalities.Major Langlands was briefly kidnapped in the tribal areas, then spent decades building a school in the mountainous northwest, and for years taught future Pakistani presidents and prime ministers, including current Prime Minister Imran Khan, at the prestigious Aitchison College in Lahore. Therefore, his life story is one of human determination and devotion towards education and betterment – influencing and shaping countless lives along his travels. He had lessons for all, including those who had the nerve to kidnap him and hold him hostage for a few days. He reportedly taught them the best way to undertake the steep climb while walking through the mountains.
Despite decades in the remotest parts of the country, Major Langlands remained committed to the little things which made him English. Every morning, he would have porridge, poached eggs and two cups of tea. He was equally dedicated to ensuring the school was as well-funded as possible, paying himself a skimpy salary of less than $300 a month.
On his retirement, former pupils came together to ensure he was housed in a cottage at Aitchison, where he lived until his death on 2 January 2019.
As news of his death spread, people flocked to pay their tributes to the man who had helped shape their lives. “Saddened to learn of the passing of my teacher,” wrote PM Imran Khan on social media. “Apart from being our teacher, he instilled the love of trekking and our northern areas in me – before the KKH was built.”
In an interview with the BBC in 2010, Major Langlands remarked, “At the age of 12, I formed my own personal motto: Be good, do good,” he said. “And that I lived by all my life.”