back to main page   

Mir Khalil-ur-Rahman: The silent revolutionary
By Mohammad Arshad Imam

Human beings are naturally similar in many ways. The difference lies in their way of thinking and their behaviour while facing the problems of life. This is where I find Mir saheb taller than others - much taller.
I had come to Karachi only a few days ago from Iran when someone advised be to contact Mir saheb for a job. So one afternoon I visited his office and inquired about him at the reception. Upon my request to meet him they contacted him on the phone and directed me to the floor where his office was situated. I went there and took a seat as told. He was very busy that day, so I was allowed in at about eight in the evening.

After the long wait, the moment I entered his office he asked me what it was that I wanted. My answer was brief and I straightforwardly told him that I needed a job.

After viewing a brief resume of my past experience, he called in the editor and told him to give me work according to my capability. That's when I first got a glimpse of his kind personality. This is because bosses are normally reluctant in taking new comers with confidence and more so while assigning them a responsible position but he never hesitated in taking this novel step.

Another aspect of his personality that I'll always remember was his appreciation of sincere effort. Everybody makes mistakes - specially in the beginning - so did I. He used to take serious notice of this and at times also used quite harsh words while asking why it happened but never mistook the explanation offered. He got upset only when a person did not admit his fault or tried to blame it on to others. He believed that if an employee made a mistake and did not admit it then such a person was prone to making more and bigger mistakes in future.

Mir saheb gave us full liberty to work but expected responsible behaviours in return. He always told us that a person who does not shoulder his responsibility is not fit for a responsible job.

Mir saheb appreciated hard workers and was a good guide but his employees had to be at the tip of their toes to benefit from it. My nature of work required me to go to his room many times a day. Therefore, I had the opportunity of observing his way of tackling different situations.

No doubt he looked strict at the first glance but in reality he was a very soft, considerate and sympathetic person who knew the art of winning hearts. We often saw him traveling long distances just to attend social ceremonies of his subordinates, quite late in the night.

Anybody who knew him, knew that work was his foremost priority. That's why he was always reluctant to accompany government dignitaries on their tours abroad. However, whenever he had to go he was received with great honour, as a torch bearer of the Pakistani press.

In spite of such high stature, at heart he was very simple and God fearing person. Greeting his subordinates before they could do so was his common practice. At both the Eids he would go from room to the other to wish his employees and workers and kept this lovely tradition alive as long as he lived.

Although strict and well disciplined he seldom imposed his opinion on others. Lesser interference in his employees' work seemed to be his motto. I don't remember a single occasion when he got something published without informing and taking the concerned desk into confidence. His usual directives read 'publish' if the story was appropriate to be published. Further, at work both the juniors and seniors were treated alike so much so that a senior's opinion was superseded by a junior's if the latter's point of view convinced him more.

As far as my relationship with him is concerned, it appeared to me more human than professional. That gave me a great feeling of closeness - an honour to be cherished by me for the rest of my life. Despite my shortcomings and faults, he is very close to my heart. He was my boss, no doubt, but I took him as an elderly friend - a very sincere friend. Occasionally, it makes me feel a bit concerted too but there are things in our life that we can't help. I always go to his grave, sometimes with my office colleagues and sometimes alone. The truth is that I feel much more comfortable when there is nobody else except me. I pray for him from the core of my heart and wish for him a high place in the heavens under the shadow of the blessings of the Almighty. When I have always felt that Mir saheb loved me like a father then how can love him just like a subordinate? It is difficult for one to scale down the dimensions and magnitude of the true affection that Mir saheb showered on us throughout his life.

When Mir saheb fell ill and was unable to come to office - we were told to pray for his health. For two three days I kept myself from going to his residence to see him personally because that it could have disturbed him. But I wasn't able to help it for long and one morning I went to his residence. I asked the gate keeper to go in and inform Mir saheb that I wished to see him. Those 10-15 minutes that the man took in coming back hanged heavy on me but finally I was allowed to go in and wait for him in a room. I sat in the room with a heavy heart and after a while I finally heard the sound of his feet on the staircase which alarmed me. He was coming down slowly leaning against the railing. I was shocked and felt great sorrow for him. I immediately apologised for the trouble but he said that it was alright. Walking with difficulty he entered the room and fell on the sofa in front of me. I trembled all over with a deep sense of guilt. Mir saheb sensing my condition said, "now as you have come, have a cup of tea before leaving." So I had tea with him. However, those were very hard moments for me. After that I asked his permission to leave. He waived his hand while lying on the sofa and asked me to pray for him. With a heart filled with grief I bade him good bye and walked out.

People come and go but men like Mir saheb are cherished and remembered for a long time to come, while their examples keep guiding through the ages. May God rest him in peace (Ameen).