Bring back Jagannath Azad’s Pakistan anthem

Source: Journeys to Democracy

By Beena Sarwar

The death in custody of another ‘blasphemy accused’ once again highlights what many of us have long been stressing: a need to repeal the ‘blasphemy laws’, train the police force, revise the education curriculum to remove the hate-mongering, and enforce law and order with a firm hand.

Below, my article on Pakistan’s first national anthem by Jagan Nath Azad (slightly abbreviated version published today in Dawn ‘Another time, another anthem’)

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Photo courtesy: Chander K. Azad, Jammu

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Photo courtesy: Chander K. Azad, Jammu

As children we learnt that Pakistan didn’t have a national anthem until the 1950s. My journalist uncle Zawwar Hasan used to tell us of a reporter friend who visited China in the early 1950s. Asked about Pakistan’s national anthem, he sang the nonsensical ‘laralapa laralapa’.

If these journalists were unaware that Pakistan had a national anthem — commissioned and approved in 1947 by no less a person than the country’s founder and first Governor General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, long before Hafeez Jullandri’s Persianised lyrics were adopted as the anthem in 1954 – ordinary citizens may be forgiven for their ignorance.

The lyricist of the first national anthem was the poet Jagannath Azad, son of the renowned poet Tilok Chand Mehroom (who won accolades for his rendering of naat at mushairas). Born in Isa Khel (Mianwali), Jagannath Azad was working in Lahore when Mr Jinnah commissioned him for this task just three days before Independence. He complied, Mr Jinnah approved the lyrics, and the anthem went on air on Radio Pakistan the day Pakistan was born. Some Pakistanis still remember hearing it, like Zaheer A. Kidvai, then seven years old, who mentioned it on his blog Windmills of my mind – ‘A Tale of Two Anthems’, May 03, 2009. Those who came after 1948 have no memory of it.

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Categories: Asia, Pakistan

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