Habib Jalib

Habib Jalib

Infobox Writer
name = Habib Jalib

imagesize =
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pseudonym =
birthname =
birthdate = 1928
birthplace = Hoshiarpur, Punjab, British India
deathdate = death date |1993|03|12|
deathplace = Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
occupation = Urdu poet, Politician
nationality = Pakistani
ethnicity = Punjabi
citizenship =
education =
alma_mater =
period =
genre =
subject =
movement =
notableworks =
spouse =
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children =
relatives =
influences =
influenced = Urdu poetry
awards = Nigar Awards

website =
portaldisp =

Habib Jalib (Urdu: Nastaliq|حبیب جالب) (1928 – March 12, 1993) was one of the renowned Pakistani Urdu poets of 20th century.

His Life Style

He was a Marxist-Leninist and aspired to the ideals of Communism. He was a member of the Communist Party of Pakistan; later when the Communist Party was banned and started working under the banner of the National Awami Party, Jalib joined the NAP. He expressed his beliefs openly and paid heavily for them. Habib Jalib spent most of his life in Jail and the rest on the streets.

His Accounts of Imprisonments

Ayub Khan's Martial Law

Habib Jalib was first imprisoned during the martial law regime of Ayub Khan due to his defiant views on Ayub Khan's capitalistic policies. He wrote his legendary poem "Dastoor" (System) during those days.

Criticising those who supported Ayub Khan's regime he said:

:Kahin gas ka dhuan hae:kahin golion ki baarish:Shab-e-ehd-e-kum nigahi:tujhay kis tarah sarahein

(There is smoke of teargas in the air and the bullets are raining all around. How can I praise thee, the night of the period of shortsightedness) [Remembering Habib Jalib posted by MB at 7:18 PM on March 15, 2007 [http://karachi.metblogs.com/archives/2007/03/remembering_hab.phtml] ] A humble man with limited means of livelihood, Jalib's character was above board. He could never reconcile with the dictatorship of Ayub Khan. So when Ayub enforced his tailor-made constitution in the country in 1962, which a former prime minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali likened to the Clock Tower of Lyallpur, Jalib wrote his famous poem:

:Whose light shines only in palaces:And carries the joys of only a few people:That derives its strength from others' weaknesses:That system, like a dawn without light:I refuse to acknowledge, I refuse to accept

Due to his daring revolt against the order of the day, Jalib was banned from official media but he remained undeterred. He rather started a tirade against the tyranny with more resolution. It reached its zenith when Fatima Jinnah decided to contest elections against Ayub Khan. All democratic forces rallied around her and at her election meetings, Jalib used to recite his fiery poems in front of an emotionally-charged crowd. His most popular poem at that time was:

Maan kay paon talay jannat hai idhar aa jao

(The paradise is under the feet of the mother. So come into her fold).

In another incident which has become a part of the resistance folklore of the country, the Governor of West Pakistan, the Nawab of Kalabagh, invited filmstar Neelo to dance in front of a foreign dignitary. As she refused, the police was sent to bring her, which led to a suicide attempt on her part. This incident inspired a poem by Jalib, which was later included by Neelo's husband Riaz Shahid in film the film "Zarqa". The song was:

:Tu bay nawaqif-e-aadab-e-ghulami hae abhi:Raqs zanjeer pehan kar bhi kiya jata hai.

(You are not aware of the protocol of a king's court. Sometimes one has to dance with the fetters on.)

Bhutto's People's Government

In 1972 when the Peoples Government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came, many of his colleagues were able to hit fortunes. He, on the other hand, kept his integrity and stuck to ideology. As a result, he was imprisoned again along with other leftist thinkers like Mukhtar Rana and Meraj Muhammad Khan.

General Zia's Military Rule

During General Zia-ul-Haq's dictatorship, Jalib joined movement for democracy. He wrote the famous poem on Zia, where he asked how he could write darkness as "Zia". Note that Zia means light in Urdu.

:Darkness as light, Hot desert wind as a morning breeze:How can I write a human as God?

Benazir's Democratic Government

In 1988, General Zia-ul-Haq died in air crash and general elections were held. Benazir Bhutto came into power and released Habib Jalib. Fortunes were distributed to those who supported the government rather than those who supported democracy. Disappointed at the state of the nation, when asked if he felt any change after democracy, he said,

:"Haal ab tak wahi hain ghareeboan kay:Din phiray hain faqat waziroan kay:her Bilawal hai dase ka maqrooz:paoon nangay hain Benazeeroan kay"

(The status of the poor is still the same
the days of the ministers have indeed changed
every Bilawal of the country is under debt
while Benazirs (literally the poor) of the country walk without shoes)

Benazir lost power in 1990 to Nawaz Sharif, in 1993 Habib Jalib died. His family refused a government offer to pay for his funeral expenses.

After his passing, Qateel Shifai expressed his sorrow and grief in these words:

:Apney sarey dard bhula kar auron ke dukh sehta tha:Hum jub ghazlain kehtey thay wo aksar jail main rehta tha :Aakhir kar chala hi gya wo rooth kar hum farzanon se :Wo deewana jisko zamana Jalib Jalib kehta tha [DAWN weekly magazine May 2004

People's Jalib By Syed Junaid Ahmed ]

His Political Career

Habib Jalib was a progressive thinker and politician in the National Awami Party, who supported the restoration of democracy during the period of Military Rule in Pakistan and had been imprisoned for his views.

One of the most popular Awami (people’s) Poet, known for the melody in his ghazals and the loud voice of dissent against despotism and the established order in Pakistan. He was always at the forefront of the struggle for democracy.

His poetry can be divided into two parts; the first comprises ghazals composed during the period when Jalib has chosen to keep a somewhat low profile. The pitch of his protest became gradually louder in his ghazals and nazams, but the melody remained untouched. He bravely challenged the first martial law of Ayub Khan. He wrote his famous poem “Dastoor” which even today stands as a landmark in the history of Pakistan’s political struggle and became a glowing symbol of protest literature.

That was a turning point for Habib Jalib, who then took up political activism also; a role he tried to fulfill till the end. He did not affiliate himself with any party, preferring to be freelance. He was an active participant of the trade union struggle and the rallies for democracy. He also emerged as a champion of women rights, leading protest marches by women against discriminatory laws.


Jalib’s poetry reflected his vision and approach to life. He never deviated from his chosen path. His love for humankind, his sympathy for the underdog and his passion for the fellow-beings were reflected in his verses. What is quite significant and somewhat rare in a poet who is also charged with political ideology is his capacity to suppress his anger against the injustices and tyrannies that he witnesses in life.

Jalib himself remained a victim of a cruel social order. He was imprisoned for some time after being wrongly implicated in various crimes.

With no regular source of income he had a rootless existence but he never considered compromising with his tormentors and coming to terms with established order. And yet Jalib’s poetry only reflects his anguish. It is not an expression of his anger or frustration. At times it is pensive, couched in sarcasm but his typical soft melodious tone is always there.

Jalib was a product of the progressive movement in the Pakistan but later he became a movement all by himself.

Recent tributes

Till the end of his life in 1993, Jalib remained a member of the Communist Party of Pakistan. In 1994, the Communist Party of Pakistan merged with the Mazdoor Kissan Party to form the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party -- which is the continuation of both the Parties in Pakistan.

Recently, two members of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party --- Shahram Azhar and Taimur "Timmy" Rahman--- launched a music video reciting Jalib's famous poem "Musheer Se" under the band title Laal (Red), symbolizing Jalib's struggle for the workers and peasants.

September 2008: "Dastoor" another one of Habib Jalibs revolutionary pieces of work was composed in a musical track titled "Dastoor- A tribute to Jalib" by "Umair Salim".


* Sir-e-Maqtal
* Zikr Behte Khoon Ka
* Gumbad-e-Bedar
* Kulyaat e Habib Jalib


See also

*Faiz Ahmed Faiz
*Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party
*Ahmed Faraz

External links

* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7992173788748993874 - Poetry of Defiance, Sung by Habib Jalib with translation in subtitles (Me Ne Us Se Ye Kaha, Zulmat ko Zia Kia Likhna, Jaag Mere Punjab, Zia Referendum)]
* [http://www.urdupoetry.com/jalib.html - A collection of some of Jalib's poems]
* [http://www.loveurdu.com/urdu-poetry/titles.asp?PID=52 - Jalib's poetry in Urdu]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPsr1RnEfWo Habib Jalib's 'Mein ney uss sey yeh kaha']
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UxbVfWvFzM&feature=related Habib Jalib ( Great Poet of Pakistan ) Part 1']

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