Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner remembered for his academic contributions


LAHORE: Speakers at a seminar at the Government College University Lahore have paid glowing tributes to the great educationist, Dr. Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner Ph.D., L.L.D., D.O.L. (1840–1899), for his invaluable contributions in laying the foundations of modern education in Punjab.

“It’s very unfortunate that our youth knows not much about this great man who founded premier educational institutions such as Government College Lahore, Oriental College, Law College, Punjab University, etc. And, in fact, all our government colleges and our central model schools flowed from the foundations Dr. Leitner laid, said renowned author and poet, Dr. Tabassum Kashmiri while addressing the seminar organized by the Punjab Archives and Libraries Wing, S&GAD at the University’s Fazal-e-Hussain Reading Room.

Eminent scholar Dr. Ikram Chughtai, renowned historian Prof Dr. Tahir Kamran, Secretary Archives Punjab Tahir Yousaf, GCU Dean Prof Dr Sultan Shah, History Department Chairman Prof Tahir Mehmood and Punjab Archives Director Abbas Chughtai also addressed the seminar attended by Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah, eminent philosopher Prof Mirza Ather Baig and a large number of faculty members.

The speakers shed light on the personality, writings and educational policies of Dr. Lietner who at the age of 19 was appointed as a lecturer of Arabic, Turkish and Greek at King’s College, London.

Prof Tahir Kamran talked about the early upbringing, education, family life of Dr. Lietner and his interest in the eastern culture and values. He said Lietner established the Government College Lahore as a center of liberal education.

Dr. Ikram Chughtai said, Dr. Leitner had great convincing power and could speak and wrote more than 25 languages and dialects, and could recite the Holy Quran by memory.

The Punjab Archives Director said Dr. G. W. Leitner, though a stranger in India, had spent many years in Muslim countries, and nowhere had he found a fitter field for his enterprising and versatile genius than on the Indian soil.

“The first thing which Dr. Leitner did to carry out the object which he had in view was to establish a kind of literary club, called the Anjuman-i-Punjab at Lahore, consisting of European and native gentlemen. The chief business of the society was the foundation of the Punjab University College in 1870 and then its formal establishment as Punjab University in 1882,” Abbas Chughtai added.

GCU Dean Prof Dr. Sultan Shah shed light on Dr. Lietner’s knowledge and love for Islam.
Prof Tahir Mehmood said G.W Leitner stood for the scholarship, higher education, academic excellence, and establishment of the institutions of higher learning. “And this is the point that brought him, at times, in conflict with the colonial authorities,” he concluded.

The seminar was followed by an exhibition of historical documents related to G.W Leitner displayed at the university’s Abdus Salam Hall. These documents also included the appointment letter of Dr. Leitner as the Principal of Government College Lahore.