Page 1


Oxford University Press Pakistan 1952–2012


Oxford University Press Pakistan 1952–2012


Contents Messages Nigel Portwood, Secretary to the Delegates and Chief Executive, Oxford University Press


Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press Pakistan


A history of Oxford University Press Pakistan, 1952–2012


A pictorial journey through the years


Memoirs and recollections




he University of Oxford is the oldest university in the Englishspeaking world and the second oldest functioning university anywhere. Scholars and leaders, the alumni of Oxford over the centuries, have included some of the most outstanding personages in the history of the world. The name of Oxford has been and remains synonymous with the highest levels of educational and academic excellence. The University has always sought to be at the forefront of learning, teaching, and research. Oxford University Press (OUP) is almost unique among publishers in that it is a department of this ancient seat of learning. OUP has played a key role in the University’s work and mission from its inception. Although books were being printed in Oxford from 1478, the University was granted by Royal degree the right to print books in 1586. OUP has, therefore, a 500-year history of its own, making it one of the oldest publishing houses in the world. More important, it is steeped in the same traditions, values, and ideals as the University of which it is a part. From its earliest days, OUP has reached beyond the shores of Britain to other parts of the world, carrying its values and ideals with it. Today, OUP enjoys the distinction of being the largest and most successful university press in the world. It has offices in more than sixty

countries, and publishes resources across the educational and academic spectrum. Oxford University Press’s relationship with the subcontinent has been a distinctive one. It established its presence in this part of the world in 1912 with its first local title. OUP has been in Pakistan from just a few years after the country’s appearance on the map. Its output here has comprised an especially wide range of educational and academic resources, from scholarly, academic works, and higher educational publications to school textbooks, school library books, and children’s books. OUP in Pakistan has a special history and is well recognized in this country for upholding the highest of standards. No less important, it enjoys a uniquely central position in the life and discourse of the academic and intellectual communities in Pakistan. On the sixtieth anniversary of OUP in Pakistan, I extend my congratulations. I take the opportunity to thank the current and previous employees of OUP Pakistan for their commitment, hard work, and loyalty. I look forward to seeing continuing success in the pursuit of the University’s mission in Pakistan and beyond.

Nigel Portwood Secretary to the Delegates and Chief Executive Oxford University Press




t is not easy to be objective about an institution with which one has been so deeply involved for so much of one’s life. I will not therefore make the attempt. Let me simply state that the institution whose sixtieth birthday in Pakistan we are celebrating this year could not have been brought to where it is today without belief and commitment, on the part of our parent organization, and the passion and dedication of those who have worked for it since its inception in Pakistan. A sixtieth birthday is a Diamond Jubilee celebration. A diamond is beautiful, but it is also the hardest substance known which needs expert craftsmanship and patient hard work to bring out the crystalline splendour of its many facets. The metaphor is appropriate for OUP Pakistan which had perhaps lacked lustre to begin with, and for several years thereafter. It may even have seemed downright unpromising at times. But, as the result of a great deal of patience and fortitude, the application of a wide range of skills to the different aspects of the institution, and enormous amounts of sheer hard work, we can today certainly boast about the kind of organization we have been able to develop here. The metaphor would be incomplete without reference to the hardness of this diamond— the hardness of numbers: volume growth and turnover. After some initial shakiness and uncertainty, the Pakistan Branch has shown

continuous, strong growth and consistent returns year after year for at least the past quarter century. We of the OUP family in Pakistan can be rightly satisfied with these achievements, just as we can take deep pride at our custombuilt head office, whose concrete celebration of Pakistan’s arts and crafts symbolizes the position of our organization within the larger community. It has not been just a matter of sales numbers and growth, important as these are, no less significant is the fact that OUPP has been decisively established within the educational and academic communities. Moreover, it has become an integral part of the intellectual and cultural life of the country and enjoys a unique position in the hearts and minds of Pakistanis of all ages. Today, at the age of sixty, the OUP Branch in Pakistan is mature but can hardly be said to be becoming portly and middle-aged. After all, our parent organization is more than five centuries old. We remain as young, dynamic, and vigorous as ever, always looking for new ideas, challenges, and successes. Our most important resource remains our people, and their training, development, and well-being will enable us to successfully chart an exciting and fulfilling future. It is a proud and happy sixtieth birthday that we celebrate this year.

Ameena Saiyid OBE Managing Director Oxford University Press Pakistan


A history of Oxford University Press Pakistan, 1952–2012 prologue... Oxford University Press’s Branch in Pakistan was established in 1952.


.E. Hawkins, Head of OUP in undivided India, wrote to M.A. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, before the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, for his

OUP became the first British publisher in Pakistan.

opinion on a manuscript entitled How to Secure India’s Independence. Jinnah replied thus: ‘Dear Mr. Hawkins... I have read it with great interest indeed, but I cannot and I am sure you will not expect me to commit myself to your proposed scheme; and it is for you to decide whether you should publish the pamphlet in its present form... Thanking you, however, for the courtesy you have shown me in sending me the manuscript in advance.’

R.E. Hawkins replied as follows: ‘Dear Mr. Jinnah... I am sorry you did not feel able either to encourage or discourage its publication, but am glad to note that the pamphlet interested you. I think it is probable


Left: R.E. Hawkins, Head of OUP in undivided India Right: Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah Photo courtesy: National Archives Pakistan


Profile of W.F. Jeffrey from OUP UK Archives

7 that we shall publish it in a slightly modified form, as I believe it will start people thinking more realistically. If we should publish, I hope you will have no objection to the quotation of your sentence: “I have read it with great interest indeed” in any advertising matter which may be issued.’

Jinnah did not agree and replied: ‘I think in fairness if you are going to use any quotation from my letter, you should give the following; otherwise it is liable to be misunderstood: I have read it with great interest indeed but I cannot and I am sure you will not expect me to commit myself to your proposed scheme; and it is for you to decide whether you should publish the pamphlet in its present form.’

Oxford University Press Pakistan (OUPP) was not established until 1952, but it is appropriate to begin an account of its history with this contact between Hawkins of OUP India and Jinnah. The idea of having a branch in Pakistan had been considered before. As early as February 1948, barely five months after Partition, the possibility was discussed by the Finance Committee at Oxford, who supported it. It was felt that, to quote: ‘The idea that—if Pakistan survived at all, and in view of the unfairness of the lines of partition it has proved something of a miraculous survival—publishers would find it necessary to open branches there, became apparent.’

It was in this regard that the country was first surveyed in January 1948 by Mr Whiskard of the Calcutta Branch who visited Dacca, and by Mr Mehta from the Bombay Branch who visited Karachi. It was surveyed again two months later by Mr Whiskard who visited both Karachi and Lahore, and then again in January 1949 by Mr Hawkins and Mr Caffin who restricted their survey to Karachi. The need for a branch in Pakistan was being considered owing to the obvious difficulties that would arise in importing books from India as the years progressed. This became clear by 1951 when import from India became difficult. This issue was crucial in determining the future for an OUPP branch in Pakistan. In August 1951, Mr W.F. Jeffrey was considered for the position of Manager because of his familiarity with both ‘Pakistan and Urdu’ and his being ‘anxious to establish his career in the country’. He had served a term with the Clarendon Press and in the London office. Jeffrey was selected to move to Karachi from Bombay. In this manner, OUPP became the first British publisher in Pakistan, although it was hardly an easy start in a country still trying to find some solid ground for itself.


the beginning...

The first OUP office in Pakistan was established at the Hotel Metropole in 1952.


he first Manager of the Pakistan Branch, W.F. Jeffrey, knew Pakistan and spoke Urdu. He arrived in Karachi in August 1951 ‘after a fiendish sea trip from Bombay’, made bearable by ‘some very strong dope which, with the help of brandy, saw me through’. He stayed at the one good hotel in Karachi, the Metropole on Club Road, for a long time a landmark of the city and now being slowly demolished.

Jeffrey soon established contact with Karachi booksellers, educationists, and government officials. Interest was being expressed in a range of OUP books.

Field Marshal Sir Claude John Eyre Auchinleck, Supreme Commander in India and Pakistan under the Joint Defence Council in 1947, was also staying at the Hotel Metropole and it appears that he and Jeffrey met every evening over drinks. Auchinleck proved helpful in matters concerning OUPP. Jeffrey took another room in the same hotel to use as an office. Thus was established the first OUP office in Pakistan. Jeffrey soon established contact with Karachi booksellers, educationists, and government officials and found that English was being taught from secondary level. Interest was being expressed in a range of OUP books, such as Parnwell’s books on English Grammar, An Omnibus of Stories, The Romance of Reading, and History through the Ages.


OUPP's first office was at Hotel Metropole, Karachi, 1952


John Rendall recalls: ‘A new General Manager must make some impact and whilst Badri Building with its camel carts and warehouses full of oil drums was characterful, it was not as clean and dust free as I had expected an OUP Branch headquarter office to be. There was an office cleaner who made daily valiant attempts to clean but her sweeping of the floor raised Sindhi dust which pervaded both In and Out trays and left the showroom far from being an inviting place to browse. Determined to set an example that the cleaner should follow, I arrived one morning with a bucket, scrubbing brush and soap and to the amazement of the staff—Wajid was clearly horrified—I went on bended knee and scrubbed one square metre of office floor so that it gleamed with cleanliness. This I announced to the poor cleaner is what I expect to see when I come to work next Monday morning. I half expected her to resign but the result was a marked improvement and we gave her a bonus for her efforts. The office wasn't air conditioned and the ceiling fan above my desk was no asset when handling page proofs. It produced little cool and when raised high papers circulated round the office in complete abandon. My desk was equipped with numerous paper weights and one learned to wipe one's brow and get the job done. In mid-summer I found a solution that left the papers on the desk undisturbed. The chair had a wicker work seat and a powerful fan placed underneath gave cool to body parts that ceiling fans could not reach.’

Badri Building, I.I. Chundrigar Road, today: OUPP's office, 1952

First OUPP office in Lahore, Al-Sarwar Building, The Mall

test file  

test for publication