Saturday, 7 April 2012

Profile - Habib Jalib, Urdu poet, Politician


Urdu poet, Politician

Born: March 24, 1928

Profession: Urdu poet

Affiliation(s): n/a

Citizenship: Pakistani


Profile
Habib Jalib was a revolutionist poet with a soft heart for his country. Habib Jalib was a great poet of Urdu literature who was born in “Hoshyar Pur” India in 1928. He was deeply impressed by “Jigar Murad Abadi”. This outstanding poetic personality migrated to Pakistan (Karachi) after the partition of India in 1947. Here, he realized the prevailing social, political, and economic injustice in society. So, he created poetic verses to address these issues and recited this poetry on different platforms. He was a staunch democrat who opposed martial law, authoritarianism and state oppression. He raised his voice against Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan’s dictatorial era. His books on urdu nazam are “Barg-e-Awara”, “Sar-e-Maqtal”, “Ehd-e-Sitam”, “Zikar Behtay Khoon ka” and “Goshay Mein Nafas”.

Early Life
Habib Jalib was born on March 24, 1928 as Habib Ahmad in a village near Hoshiarpur, British India. He migrated to Pakistan after partition and worked as a proofreader in Daily Imroze, Karachi. He was a progressive writer and soon started to grab the audience with his enthusiastic recitation of poetry. He wrote in plain language, adopted a simple style and addressed common people and issues. But the conviction behind his words, the music of his voice and his emotional energy coupled with the sensitivity of the socio-political context is what stirred the audience.

Political views
Darkness as light, Hot desert wind as a morning breeze. 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 National Awami Party (NAP), Jalib joined the NAP. Due to his blunt expression of his beliefs, he suffered hard time all his life and spent most of time in Jails.

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" during those days.

Criticizing those who supported Ayub Khan's regime, he wrote:

    کہیں گیس کا دھواں ہے
    کہیں گولیوں کی بارش ہے
    شب عہد کم نگاہی
    تجھے کس طرح سراہیں

    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
    he night of the period of shortsightedness

A humble man with limited means of livelihood, Jalib 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 the following poem:

    دیپ جس کا محلات ہی میں جلے
    چند لوگوں کی خوشیوں کو لے کر چلے
    وہ جو سایےمیں ہر مصلحت کے پلے
    ایسے دستور کو، صبح بےنور کو
    میں نہیں مانتا،میں نہیں مانتا

    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:

    ماں کے پائوں تلے جنت ہے ادھر آجائو
    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 (Be bold and read here Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran!). 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 the film Zarqa. The song was:

    تو کہ ناواقفِ ادبِ غلامی ہے ابھی
    رقص زنجیر پہن کر بھی کیا جاتا ہے

    Tu kay 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 (before them) with the fetters on.

Bhutto's government
In 1972 when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to power, many of his colleagues were able to hit fortunes. He, on the other hand, kept his integrity and stuck to ideology. According to sources close to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, one day Habib Jalib went to Bhutto's place to meet him. Bhutto on seeing him said that when are you going to come (referring to joining his political Party) Jalib said, "Have the oceans ever fallen in rivers".

Zia-ul-Haq's martial law
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 ( Zia literally means light in Urdu).

    ظلمت کو ضیا، صر صر کو صبا، بندے کو خدا کیا لکھنا
    Darkness as light, Hot desert wind as a morning breeze
    How can I write a human as God?

Benazir Bhutto's 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:

    حال اب تک وہی ہیں غریبوں کے
    دن پھرے ہیں فقت وزیروں کے
    ہر بلاول ہے دیس کا مقروض
    پائوں ننگے ہیں بے نظیروں کے

    Haal ab tak wahi hain ghareeboan kay
    Din phiray hain faqat waziroan kay
    her Bilawal hai Dais 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 (name of the only son of Benazir Bhutto) of the country is under debt
    while Benazirs (literally the poor) of the country walk without shoes

Death
Habib Jalib died on March 12, 1993.

His family refused the offer of the then government to pay for his funeral expenses. Qateel Shifai expressed his sorrow and grief in these words:
    اپنے سارے درد بھلا کر اوروں کے دکھ سہتا تھا
    ہم جب غزلیں کہتے تھے وہ اکثر جیل میں رہتا تھا
    آخر چلا ہی گیا وہ روٹھ کر ہم فرزانوں سے
    وہ دیوانہ جس کو زمانہ جالب جالب کہتا تھا

    Apney saarey dard bhula kar auron ke dukh sehta tha
    Hum jub ghazlain kehtey thay wo aksar jail main rehta tha
    Aakhir kaar chala hee gya wo rooth kar hum farzanoun se
    Wo deewana jisko zamana Jalib Jalib kehta tha

Poetry
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. He believed that the Pakistani leaders should stop obeying the Westerners. His following poem reflects this.

    فرنگی کا جو میں دربان ہوتا
    تو جینا کس قدر آسان ہوتا
    میرے بچے بھی امریکہ میں پڑھتے
    میں ہر گرمی میں انگلستان ہوتا
    مری انگلش بھی بلا کی چست ہوتی
    بلا سے جو نہ میں اردو دان ہوتا
    سر جھکاکے جو ہو جاتا 'سر' میں
    تو لیڈر بھی عظیم الشان ہوتا
    زمینیں میری ہر صوبے میں ہوتیں
    میں واللہ صدرِ پاکستان ہوتا

    Farangi ka jo main darbaan hota
    Tho jeena kis kadar aasaan hota
    Meray bachay bhi amreeka may parthay
    Main Har garmi may main Inglistaan hota
    Meree English bhi balaa ki chusth hotee
    Balaa say jo na main Urdu-daan hota
    Sar jhuka kay jo ho jaata sir main
    Tho leader bhi azeem-u-shaan hota
    Zameenain meree har soobay may hoteen
    May wallah sadr-e-Pakistan hota

Some poems in his own voice

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