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Random thoughts

July 20, 2020

A good team

Opinion

July 20, 2020

Recently I read a very good article in these pages, 'The dangers of incompetence' written by Ms Kamila Hyat (July 16). I read it very carefully and found it well written and to the point.

That reminded me of a verse by the retired commissioner of Bahawalpur and a dear friend, Mr Murtuza Berlas and also worried me about how so many foreign nationals of Pakistani origin have managed to hijack so many top positions.They are here making hay while the sun shines and will then return to their adopted countries with nice bank balances. I am sure it is possible to find people within the country who are just as competent.

More than a thousand years ago there was once a very learned scholar in Iraq by the name of Imam Maufiq. His students usually managed to rise to high positions. At one time, three very good, intelligent friends were his pupils. They were Nizamul Mulk Toosi, Omar Khayyam and Hassan bin Sabbah. They pledged to help each other whichever one of them rose to a high position. Nizamul Mulk Toosi became prime minister to Jaluddin Malik Shah, the king. Omar Khayyam, the great poet and astrologer, was accommodated by Toosi. Hassan bin Sabbah became an evil genius. He prepared a false paradise full of beautiful girls where he took people and gave them alcohol to drink and hashish to smoke. Once under his influence, they were brainwashed to become fearful assassins.

The following piece comes from the book 'Siasatnama' by Toosi and translated by Mr Shah Hassan Atta. Some things were applicable only at that time, but many are still valid today. “It is essential that a ruler must have refined, educated well-mannered companions. The king should be able to talk to them feeling free and easy. If the king mixes with his rich courtiers and forces’ chiefs too frequently, they will lose their fear of him and respect for him. These people will start taking liberties – whoever is posted at a responsible position must not take liberties with the king. They should never be allowed to do this. Using their clout with the king, such people can indulge in illegal and immoral activities.

"Every citizen must be able to respect the king and be afraid of his powers and status. The king must select refined, educated, intelligent courtiers. Yes, his advisers may take some liberties (but within limits). The king needs to have the company of good, intelligent people to relax with, to share happiness and jokes with, etc. Since such a person is always with the king, he should also serve as a good friend. If the king is in danger, that person should be willing to give his life to protect him. The king should be able to freely talk to his personal guards. He cannot lighten his heart by talking to every Tom, Dick and Harry. He should be able to talk to them about other kings and rulers and they should also be his informants and sometimes work as his spies.

"Since the advisors have a special status, they can talk freely and easily to the ruler. They should, therefore, be of noble origin, well-educated, knowledgeable, honest, good orators and joke tellers. They are supposed to always keep up the mood of the ruler. Advisers are all-comprising officers who keep the ruler busy and happy. They must be quick at pleasant jokes. They should never annoy the ruler and it will also be good if they are handy with weapons. Advisers should never try to be teachers; never say ‘don’t do this, don’t do that.’ They can only tactfully advise (especially against gambling, drinking, etc.). They should be very careful when discussing state affairs, wars, action against another state, etc. Wars, travel, negotiations with other states, etc should be left to experts in state affairs.

"The hakim can help with the choice of foods and fruits and the palmist/astrologer can point out the best time for any particular work. The adviser should not play hakim or astrologer. Those two can become a pain in the neck if given too much freedom. They should be kept under control and should be called only when needed.

"The personal secretary should be intelligent and well-educated and have some experience of being in the company of rulers. He should be polite, sharp, humorous, quick and smart. All advisers should be ranked – some will sit with the ruler while others will stand. The ruler should not collect too many Advisors.”

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