World Politics

Ailing king, wise soul and the kingdom of Pakistan

Ailing king, wise soul and the kingdom of Pakistan

by Amjad Nazeer

The unpleasant outcomes of our low priorities in the priority areas are already surfacing in terms of poverty, violence, vulnerability and political discountenance. But our policy gurus rarely listen to the outcries of civil society, educationists and health professionals to give social sector its due importance

When it comes to the demands of increasing health and education budget in Pakistan a worn out argument is put forth. Existence precedes excellence. Real and perceptual threats are magnified to serve the purpose. In other words defence priorities are made superior to our growth in science, technology, and social services. Armour and armament is preferred over physical and mental strength to invest in and flourish.Exemplifying the trend, both allocation and expenditure statistics of the two strategic areas are highly discouraging in the previous and the present fiscal year 2011-2012. The paltry increase, that can hardly quash our annual inflation rate, is no more than a deceptive proceed. Given the declining priorities in our health and education sector, we are fast losing our potentials both in body and spirit.

The unpleasant outcomes of our low priorities in the priority areas are already surfacing in terms of poverty, violence, vulnerability and political discountenance. But our policy gurus rarely listen to the outcries of civil society, educationists and health professionals to give social sector its due importance. The fact is, if anything can guarantee our brighter future, better health and progressive education alone can do so – should we really desire any good for the people of Pakistan in future. The way our policy priorities are set forth reminds me of a thousand years old Alf-Lailvi tale. Borrowing the idea, I recreate and alter it here to reflect the pros and cons of present state of affairs:

“Once upon a time, there was a prestigious king in Persia. To his misfortune, he fell victim to leprosy at the prime of his strength and success. Number of incandescent Hakeems, Kahins and Tabeebs tried their wisdom and dexterity but to no gain. Each nuskhsa, every marham and all enchantments tried any man of magic or medicine in the country failed to effect any relief to the king. Despite all necessary efforts, his condition went down the hill every passing day.

One day a wise and well versed Hakeem, living in oblivion so far, visited him from a remote corner of the Kingdom. Imploring his access to the court, he bowed before the king and sought his permission to speak. “Go ahead”, said the King. “O! King of the Kings”, thus uttered the old Hakeem. “I have heard you of having consumed number of herbs and potions to cure the disease but in vain. Should your majesty allow me, I can assure to heal your ailment without any potion to intake or a balm to apply over your body.

”How come? I have tried scores of drafts and prescriptions internal and external without a modicum of success,” replied the hopeless King.

“It is very much possible Sire, only if you follow my instructions precisely the way I describe”, assured the wise Hakeem.

As agreed by the King, the promising Hakeem visited him next day to work out his claim. Amidst the viziers and amirs seated around in the throne, the wise Hakeem provided a hallow mast of Polo to the king with the following advice. Go and play with it in the afternoon as tough as you can until your hands and whole body profusely sweats. The medicine that I have stuffed inside the grip of the mast will absorb into your blood and body from your perspiring hands. Then return to your palace, take a hot bath and retire to bed straight on. When you will wake up next day morning, ‘with the grace of God,’ your leprosy would have no signs on at all.

The King followed the course very exactly, as described by the learned Hakeem. Opening his eyes next day morning, he could not believe his eyes when he saw his leprosy gone as if it was never there. The king was highly pleased and immensely obliged to the wise Hakeem. Showering him with multiple honours, the King gave him a seat next to his own in the court and announced a mushahira of 1000 tilai sikkey each 30 days and the title of Shams-ul-utbaa,Hakeem-ul-Haziq and Tabeeb-e-Shahi. Hearing this all, the Hakeem said, “I am least interested in my personal honours. Should your majesty desires to oblige me, please give this much wealth to the matabs and madarsas that I intend to install in our watan-e-azeez to advance knowledge and medicine”. The King readily agreed to the proposal.

Vying the Hakeem’s prestige and position in the court, an avaricious and jealous Vizier was on the lookout for an opportunity to poison the King’s ears for long. One smoggy evening he finally got the King to listen to his ambitions. “Tabeeb-e-Shahi belongs to the belligerent neighbouring country and is out here on a mission to kill you. O! Kind King, perceive the danger! Wake up, if you are sleeping,” whispered the fiery-eyed Vizier.

“Do you know what you are saying vizier-e-na-aqbat-andesh, asked the King in anger. “Had he intended to take my life, why would he save me when I was already dying from leprosy?” pressed the king furiously dismissing the Vizier’s ill-conceived thoughts. “To win your trust and confidence your majesty, to spy on, and finally capture our territory at the behest of the neighbouring King”. “This is what he has been hired for,” added the ill-motivated Vizier. The honours and honorariums, the gems and jewels and the gold coins that you waste on matabs and madarsas of Tabeeb-e-Shahhi could be put to better use. In there, he does nothing save producing unnecessarily shrewd minds like his own. The same wealth could be allocated to your sipah-e-salar, your faithful sipah-o-lashkar and their askari tarbiatto glorify our land andto make it naqabil-e-taskheer. They can not only protect, will even expand the powers of your takht-o-taj.

To cut the long story short the Vizier finally got the king on his side for constantly filling his ears against the wise Hakeem. A day came when the king believed the plot and ordered the Hakeem’s head to be chopped off in the public. Just before Jalad-e-Shahi was about to axe his head off. The frail Hakeem pleaded to spare him just for one day to say goodbye to his family and his students in mataib-o-madaris he has opened. The King agreed though hesitatingly. The wise Hakeem returned next day to lay down his life at the King’s feet as he had given his words the day before. When Jalad was about to strike a blow, the victim begged for a moment to speak out a secret to the king. “Allow him”, said the king and thus spoke Hakeem-ul-Hikmat while an axe swinging on his head.

“My God prolong your life O! King, listen and follow it carefully, what I say. There are two Big Books placed in my matab near the city gate. One coloured Blue and another Black. Visit that matab tomorrow morning when I shall no more be in your Kingdom. I will urge you first to open the Blue Book and read it from end to end. Then open the one with Black Cover and do the same page by page. Blue Book will reveal you the secret of my wisdom and knowledge, particularly how did I succeed to cure your leprosy. The Black one will disclose the future of your Kingdom and your people”. The moment he uttered his last words, Jalad detached his head from his body in a single blow.

Curious of knowing the secrets the King rushed to the said Matab early morning next day where he went through the ritual very exactly as was advised by Hakeem-e-Haziq, now slain. The first book with a bright Blue Cover was packed with injunctions and descriptions of science, algebra, philosophy, medicine, poetry and literature mostly far from the interest and aptitude of the King. Dismissing its importance, the king swept to the second Large Book. In his curiosity and keenness the King flipped its pages one after the other till he reached the last. To his disappointment and dismay the Book was empty from the very first safha to the last leaf. Outraged, the King justified his decisions in his heart and showered praises for the Vizier who saved him from evil designs of the late Hakeem. Giving him a large bounty and raising the honorarium for sipah-o-lashker even more, he went to bed in peace.

Next day morning, when he woke up he was shocked to see that his leprosy had returned. The overturning-antidote to leprosy dusted in the Black Book from page to page and the poison of ignorance had attacked the King. With his condition worsening very quickly the King died in a couple of weeks. With the death of the King infighting broke out. madarasas and matabs all got closed in chaos. Reason and sensibility retreated that was emerging in the times of the wise Hakeem. The Kingdom turned weaker and weaker ready for any measure of decline and decay in consistence. No neighbouring country now ever needed to threaten its existence and integrity.

With this end, is there a need to supplement the story with any comment? I don’t think there is any”.

Amjad Nazeer did  M.A in Anthropology from Quid-e-Azam University in 1995. He produced several articles and booklets to promote 'peace', 'human rights' and 'democratization' in Pakistan. Presently doing M.A in Human Rights from Roehampton University, London.