Posts Tagged ‘Poet of the masses’

A tribute to Habib Jalib on his 82nd birthday today 28th Feb, 2010  

Habib Jalib. Habib Jalib. Habib Jalib!

Habib Jalib

“No poet since Wali Dakkani has been able to capture greater audience than Habib Jalib. He is truly the poet of the masses..” Faiz Ahmed Faiz  

Habib Jalib, the poet of the masses, also known as the “People’s Poet” was more than just a poet. Every since Pakistan came into being in 1947, our history plagues with underhand deals, financial ‘gifts’, putting a price tag on our souls, selling our conscience in self-interest and compromising on principles.  

The great man Habib Jalib lived 65 years and not a single man can claim allegations mentioned above on him. Such was the persona of Habib Jalib – The revolutionary poet and ever-inspiring activist.  

Whether it was defying the military dictators like the self-proclaimed Mard-e-Haq, Mard-e-Momin General Zia-ul-Haq, whose policies of state-sponsored radicalization still haunt our society, or General Ayub Khan, who campaigned against the mother of the nation, Fatima Jinnah in Presidential elections (and through rigging/state machinery claimed a “win” and imposed a new constitution in Pakistan, in reply Habib wrote the famous “Dastoor” / Constitution) or protesting against PPP’s Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s policies when he felt ZAB was going off the track, Habib Jalib represented the masses thought through his rhythmic words and political activism.  

Jailed several times for his rather honest opinions and offered monetary help by the state several times, Habib Jalib never compromised on his principles and even after his death, 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

– Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi : Plastic Tearz – An Insight  

Feel the persona of Habib Jalib reciting his poem ” Dastoor” in response to General Ayub Khan’s Dastoor/Constitution.   




Zulm Rahay aur Amn bhi ho ?

Ten poems of Jalib with English translation: 

What Does Pakistan Mean? 

Bread, clothes and medicine
A little house to live in
Free education, as may right be seen
A Muslim, I, too, have always been
What does Pakistan mean
There is no God, but God, The Rab-al-alameen 

For American alms do not bray
Do not, the people, laugh away
With the democratic struggle do not play
Hold on to freedom, do not cave in
What does Pakistan mean
There is no God… 

Confiscate the fields from the landowners
Take away the mills from the robbers
Redeem the country from its dark hours
Off with the lordly vermin
What does Pakistan mean
There is no God… 

Sind, Baluchistan and Frontier
These three are to Panjab most dear
And Bengal lends them splendour
Anguished should not be their mien
What does Pakistan mean
There is no God… 

This, then, is the basic thing
For the people, let freedom’s bell ring
From the rope, let the plunderer swing
Truly they speak, who the truth have seen
What does Pakistan mean
There is no God, but Allah…
Pakistan Ka Matlab Kya? 

Roti, kapda aur dawa
Ghar rehne ko chhota sa
Muft mujhe talim dila
Mein bhi Musalmaan hoon wallah
Pakistan ka matlab kya
La Ilaha Illalah… 

Amrika se mang na bhik
Mat kar logon ki tazhik
Rok na janhoori tehrik
Chhod na azadi ki rah
Pakistan ka matlab hai kya
La Ilaha Illalah… 

Khet waderon se le lo
Milen luteron se le lo
Mulk andheron se le lo
Rahe na koi Alijah
Pakistan ka matlab kya
La Ilaha Illalah… 

Sarhad, Sindh, Baluchistan
Teenon hain Panjab ki jaan
Aur Bangal hai sab ki aan
Aai na un ke lab par aah
Pakistan ka matlab kya
La Ilaha Illalah… 

Baat yehi hai bunyadi
Ghasib ki ho barbadi
Haq kehte hain haq agah
Pakistan ka matlab kya
La Ilaha Illalah…
Islam Is Not In Danger 

Endangered are the idle rich, bursting with cash
Crumbling walls about to crash
All the centuries’ mish-mash
Islam is not in danger
Why do a few clans all the land rights enjoy
And those, who revere the Prophet, are bereft of joy 

Endangered are the beasts of prey
Multicoloured cars which in the streets sashay
And for whom the American hearts sway
Islam is not in danger
Due to our slogans the palaces shake and tremble
The towering ornate shops cannot our hopes quell 

Endangered are the robbers of the highway
Western traders who make hay
Thieves and tricksters who waylay
Islam is not in danger
Holding aloft the banner of peace, loving all humans, we are on the go
Loving all the world, O Jalib, is our proud credo 

Endangered are the palatial predators
The kings and their abettors
Nawabs and other such traitors
Islam is not in danger.
Khatre Mein Islam Nahin 

Khatra hai zar daron ko
Girti hui diwaron ko
Sadiyon ke bimaron ko
Khatre mein Islam nahin
Sari zamin ko ghere hue hain aakhir chand gharane kyon
Naam nabi ka lene wale ulfat se begane kyon 

Khatra hai khun khwaron ko
Rang birangi karon ko
Amrika ke pyaron ko
Khatre mein Islam nahin
Aaj hamare naaron se larza hai bapa aiwanon mein 

Bik na sakenge hasrat-o arman unchi saji dukanon mein
Khatra hai bat maron ko
Maghrib ke bazaron ko
Choron ko makkaron ko
Khatre mein Islam nahin
Amn ka parcham le kar utho har insane se piyar karo
Aprna to manshoor hai Jalib, sare jahan se pyar karo 

Khatra hai darbaron ko
Shahon ke ghamkhwaron ko
Nawabon, ghaddaron ko
Khatre mein Islam nahin

Too long I have heard you preach and prate, Maulana
But so far there has been no change in my fate, Maulana
Keep to yourself your preachings of gratefulness
My heart, like an arrow, they penetrate, Maulana
The truth, only you know or God knows
They say that Jimmy Carter is your pir* incarnate, Maulana
The land to the landlords, the machine to the despoilers
This, according to you, is God’s dictate, Maulana
Why don’t millions fight for Palestine
Prayers alone cannot from chains liberate, Maulana 

* Sufi saint

Bahut mein ne suni hai aap ki taqreer Maulana
Magar badli nahin ab tak meri taqdeer Maulana
Khudara Shukr ki talqeen apne pass hi rakhen
Yeh lagti hai mere seene pe ban kar teeer Maulana
Nahin mein bol sakta jhut is darja dhitai se
Yehi hai jurm mera aur yehi taqsir Maulana
Haqeeqat ka kya hai, yeh to aap jaanen ya Khuda jane
Suna hai Jimmi Carter hai aap ka peer Maulana
Zameenen hon waderon ki, mashinen hon luteron ki
Khuda ne likh ke di hai yeh tumhen terhrir Maulana
Karodon kyon nahin mil kar Falastin ke liye ladte
Dua hi se faqat kat-ti nahin zanjir Maulana

Hindustan belongs to me and Pakistan belongs to me
Both of these, however, are under American hegemony 

American aid gave us wheat, as also their deceit
Do not ask me how long we’ve suffered their conceit 

And yet the bayonets are all around this flowering valley
Hindustan belongs to me and Pakistan belongs to me 

Khan Bahadur, do not follow the English, from them better keep away
Once again they are holding you by the collar, you are still their prey 

Macmillan was never thine, Kennedy can never be
Hindustan belongs to me and Pakistan belongs to me 

This land in fact, my dear, belongs to peasants and workers
Here will not run the writ of a few clannish marauders 

The dawn of freedom is heralding the end of tyranny
Hindustan belongs to me and Pakistan belongs to me.

Hindustan bhi mera hai aur Pakistan bhi mera hai
Lekin in donon mulkon mein Amrika dera hai 

Aid ki gandam kha kar ham ne kitney dhokey khai hain
Poochh na hamne Amrika ke kitne naaz uthai hain 

Phir bhi ab tak wadi-e gul ko sangeenon ne ghera hai
Hindustan bhi mera hai aur Pakistan bhi mera hai 

Khan Bahadur chhodna hoga ab to saath Angrezon ka
Ta bah gareban aa pahuncha hai phir se hath Angrezon ka 

Macmilan tera na hua to Kenedy kab tera hai
Hindustan bhi mera hai aur Pakistan bhi mera hai 

Yeh dharti hai asal mein, pyare, mazdooron dahqanon ki
Is dharti par chal na sakegi marzi chand gharanon ki 

Zulm ki rat rahegi kab tak ab nazdik savera hai
Hindustan bhi mera hai aur Pakistan bhi mera hai
The Mother 

The children were shot dead
The mother, in fury, said
These pieces of my heart
Should cry and I stand apart
Looking on from afar
This I cannot do 

I should look on from afar
As the tyrants, night and day
With the blood of my children Holi* play
Besmirched in red
As the children were shot dead
The mother, in fury, said
These pieces of my heart
Should cry and I stand apart
Looking on from afar
This, I cannot do 

* Spring festival played with coloured water 

She walked came down to the ground
Like lightening flashing around
The tyrant’s hand trembled
Full of fear the gun frowned
Everywhere her echo did resound
I am hereby bound, I am coming for this round
I am hereby bound, I am coming for this round 

Then oppression became evil
Panic-stricken were those who kill
When she thundered
As our children were murdered
She said, you vampires
Gold is the be all of your desires
This land belongs to us all
This land, you Dunces Esquires
Lackeys, still, to your British Sires 

The sahib’s beneficence
Has not made you landlords: squires
Desist from this tyranny
Back to your barracks, flee
You, who rove ahead
With a gang of plunderers you have bred
As our children were shot dead

Bachchon pe chali goli
Maan dekh ke yeh boli
Yeh dil ke mere tukde
Yun royen mere hote
Mein dur khadi dekhoon
Yeh mujh se nahin hoga 

Mein Dur khadi dekhun
Aur ahl-e sitam khelen
Khun se mere bachchon ke
Din-raat yahan holi
Bachchon pe chali goli
Maan dekh ke yeh boli
Yeh dil ke mere tukde
Yun royen mere hote
Mein dur khadi dekhun
Yeh mujh se nahin hoga 

Meidan mein nikal aayi
Ek barq si lehrai
Har dast-e sitam kanpa
Bandooq bhi tharrai
Har simt sada gunji
Mein aati hun, mein aayee
Mein aati hun, mein aayee 

Har zulm hua batil
Aur seham gaye qatil
Jab us ne zaban kholi
Bachchon pe chali goli
Us ne kaha khun-khwaro!
Daulat ke parastaro
Dharti hai yeh ham sab ki
Is dharti ko naa-dano!
Angrezon ke darbano!
Sahab ki ata-kardah
Jagir na tum jano
Is zulm se baaz aao
Bairak mein chale jao
Kyon chand luteron ki
Phirte ho liye toli
Bachchon pe chali goli
The Garden Is A Bloody Mess 

This poem is about the oppression in East Pakistan in 1971 

Our eyes yearn for greenery
The garden is a bloody mess
For whom should I sing my songs of love
The cities are all a wilderness
The garden is a bloody mess 

The rays of the sun, they sting
Moonbeams are a killing field, no less
Deep shadows of death hover at every step
Life wears a skull and bone dress
All around the air is on prowl
With bows and arrows, in full harness
The garden is a bloody mess 

The battered buds are like a sieve
The leaves drenched in blood smears
Who knows, for how long
We’ll have this rain of tears
People how long do we have to bear
These days and nights of sorrow and distress
This oppressor’s blood bath is a frolicsome play
For the mighty of the world, a mark of their prowess
The garden is a bloody mess
Bagiya Lahoo Luhan 

Haryali ko aankhen tarsen bagiya lahoo luhan
Pyar ke geet sunaoon kis ko shehar hue weeran
Bagiya lahoo luhan 

Dasti hain suraj ki kirnen chand jalaye jaan
Pag pag maut ke gehre saye jeewan maut saman
Charon ore hawa phirti hai le kar teer Kaman
Bagiya lahoo luhan 

Chhalni hain kaliyon ke seeney khoon mein lat paat
Aur nahjaney kab tak hogi ashkon ki barsaat
Dunya walon kab beeteinge dukh ke yeh din raat
Khoon se holi khel rahe hain dharti ke balwan
Bagiya lahoo luhan
God Is Ours 

Addressed to religious hucksters of any denomination and the system they defend – translator’s note 

God is not yours, to Him we have access
He does not look kindly on those who oppress 

How long, you men of pelf, will you bleed us white
Get off our backs, you who in filthy lucre take delight
You satans it is dust that you will soon bite
We believe that He treats mankind with loving tenderness
He does not look kindly on those who oppress 

Light of new wisdom we are going to see
A fire flares up, seeing our agony
In this new magical dawn will burst forth the blossoming tree
He brings hopes to those who are mired in distress
God is not yours, to Him we have access
He does not look kindly on those who oppress 

We’ll break the shadowy spell of fear and dread
Onwards we will march, chains of despair we will shred
We’ll not betray the hopes of the people, our dear kindred
And long we will remember this time of duress
He does not look kindly on those who oppress
Khuda Hamara Hai 

Khuda tumhara nahi hai khuda hamara hai
Use zamin pe yeh zulm kab gawara hai 

Lahoo piyoge kahan tak hamara dhanwano
Badhao apni dukan seem-o zar ke deewano
Nishan kahin na rahega tumhara shaitano
Hamein yaqeen hai ke insaan usko pyara hai
Khuda tumhara nahin hai khuda hamara hai
Use zameen pe yeh zulm kab gaawara hai 

Nai shaoor ki hai roshni nigahon mein
Ek aag si bhi hai ab apni sard aahon mein
Khilenge phool nazar ke sahar ki bahon mein
Dukhe dilon ko isi aas ka sahara hai
Khuda tumhara nahin hai khuda hamara hai
Use zameen pe yeh zulm kab gawara hai 

Tilism-e sayah-e khauf-o hiras todenge
Qadam bandhayenge zanjeere-e yaas todenge
Kabhi kisi ke na ham dil ki aas todenge
Rahega yaad jo ehd-e sitam guzara hai
Use zamin pe yeh zulm kab gawara hai
To Rakhshinda Zoya 

13 April 1981, during a jail visit
She cannot say it, but then
My little one manages to say
Father, come home
Father, come home
She cannot comprehend
Why, in prison, I continue to stay
And not return with her, hand in hand
How should I explain to her
That home, too, is like a prison
Kot Lakhpat Jail
Rakhshinda Zoya Se 

Keh nahin sakti par kehti hai
Mujh se meri nanhi bachchi
Abbu ghar chal
Abbu ghar chal
Us ki samajh mein kuchh nahin aata
Kyon zindan mein reh jaata hun
Kyon nahin saath mein uske chalta
Kaise nanhi samjhaoon
Ghar bhi to zindan ki tarah hai
On Iqbal Centenary 

When we arise to wake the poor, the have nots
A beeline to the police station they make, these wealthy sots 

They say that God this wealth to them allots
Oh these trite excuses, oh these dusty plots 

Night and day the working men’s blood they suck, o poet of the East
These congenital liars, with the vileness of a beast
Yaum-E Iqbal Par 

Log uthte hain jab tere ghareebon ko jagane
Sab shehar ke zardar pahunch jaate hain thane 

Kehte hain yeh daulat hamein bakhshi hai khuda ne
Farsudah bahane wahi afsaane purane 

Ai shair-e mashriq! Yehi jhute yehi bad zaat
Peete hain laoo banda-e mazdoor ka din raat
The Government of Jack Boots 

If the dacoit had not had
The village guard as his ally
Our feet would not be in chains
Our victory would not defeat imply
Mourn with turbans round your necks
Crawling on your bellies, comply
Once the jack boot government is up
It’s hard, to make it bid good-bye
Bootan Di Sarkar 


Dakuan da je saath na dinda pind da pehredar
Aj paireen zanjeer na hund jit na hundi har
Paggan apne gal wich pa lo turo pet de bhar
Chadh jaye te mushkil lehndi bootan di sarkar

Written during Yahya Khan’s dictatorship
Translated from the Urdu and Punjabi by fowpe sharma.
Transliterated from the Urdu by Hasan Abdullah.
Prepared for publication by Amar Farooqui 



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