Habib Jalib
حبیب جالب
Portrait of Habib Jalib
Portrait of Habib Jalib
BornHabib Ahmad
(1928-03-24)24 March 1928[1]
Hoshiarpur, Punjab, British India (Now, Punjab, India)
Died12 March 1993(1993-03-12) (aged 64)[1]
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
OccupationUrdu poet, Political activist
Nationality British Indian (1928–1947)
 Pakistani (1947–1993)
Literary movementProgressive Writers' Movement
Notable awardsNigar Awards
Nishan-i-Imtiaz[2] (Posthumously awarded on 23 March 2009)
ChildrenJamila Noor Jalib
Tahira Habib [3]

Habib Jalib (24 March 1928 - 12 March 1993; Urdu, Punjabi: حبیب جالب) was a Pakistani revolutionary poet, left-wing activist who opposed martial law, authoritarianism and state oppression. Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz said that he was the poet of the masses.[4] He opposed military coups and administrators and was duly jailed several times.[5]

Senior journalist Hamid Mir also considers Sufism to have played a major role in his political stances against dictatorship.[6]

Early life

Habib Jalib was born as Habib Ahmad on 24 March 1928 in a village near Hoshiarpur, Punjab, British India. He migrated to Pakistan after the partition of India.[7] Later he worked as a proofreader for Daily Imroze of 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.[1]

Political views

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

کہیں گیس کا دھواں ہے
کہیں گولیوں کی بارش
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
the night of the period of shortsightedness [8]

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 Dastur, verses of which include:

Original Urdu English Transliteration English translation Devnagri
دیپ جس کا محلات ہی میں جلے
چند لوگوں کی خوشیوں کو لے کر چلے
وہ جو سائے میں ہر مصلحت کے پلے
ایسے دستور کو، صبح بے نور کو
میں نہیں مانتا، میں نہیں مانتا
میں بھی خائف نہیں تختہ دار سے
میں بھی منصور ہوں کہہ دو اغیار سے
کیوں ڈراتے ہو زنداں کی دیوار سے
ظلم کی بات کو، جہل کی رات کو
میں نہیں مانتا، میں نہیں مانتا
پھول شاخوں پہ کھلنے لگے، تم کہو
جام رندوں کو ملنے لگے، تم کہو
چاک سینوں کے سلنے لگے، تم کہو
اس کھلے جھوٹ کو، ذہن کی لوٹ کو
میں نہیں مانتا، میں نہیں مانتا
تم نے لوٹا ہے صدیوں ہمارا سکوں
اب نہ ہم پر چلے گا تمہارا فسوں
چارہ گر میں تمہیں کس طرح سے کہوں
تم نہیں چارہ گر، کوئی مانے، مگر
میں نہیں مانتا، میں نہیں مانتا
diip jis kā mahallāt hī meñ jale

chand logoñ kī ḳhushiyoñ ko le kar chale

vo jo saa.e meñ har maslahat ke pale

aise dastūr ko sub.h-e-be-nūr ko

maiñ nahīñ māntā maiñ nahīñ jāntā

maiñ bhī ḳhā.if nahīñ taḳhta-e-dār se

maiñ bhī mansūr huuñ kah do aġhyār se

kyuuñ Darāte ho zindāñ kī dīvār se

zulm kī baat ko jahl kī raat ko

maiñ nahīñ māntā maiñ nahīñ jāntā

phuul shāḳhoñ pe khilne lage tum kaho

jaam rindoñ ko milne lage tum kaho

chaak sīnoñ ke silne lage tum kaho

is khule jhuuT ko zehn kī luuT ko

maiñ nahīñ māntā maiñ nahīñ jāntā

tum ne luuTā hai sadiyoñ hamārā sukūñ

ab na ham par chalegā tumhārā fusūñ

chārāgar dardmandoñ ke bante ho kyuuñ

tum nahīñ chārāgar koī maane magar

maiñ nahīñ māntā maiñ nahīñ jāntā

The light which shines only in palaces
Burns up the joy of the people in the shadows
Derives its strength from others' weakness
That kind of system,
like dawn without light
I refuse to acknowledge, I refuse to accept
I am not afraid of execution,
Tell the world that I am the martyr
How can you frighten me with prison walls?
This overhanging doom,
this night of ignorance,
I refuse to acknowledge, I refuse to accept
"Flowers are budding on branches", that's what you say,
"Every cup overflows", that's what you say,
"Wounds are healing themselves", that's what you say,
These bare-faces lies,
this insult to the intelligence,
I refuse to acknowledge, I refuse to accept
For centuries you have all stolen our peace of mind
But your power over us is coming to an end
Why do you pretend you can cure pain?
Even if some claim that you've healed them,
I refuse to acknowledge, I refuse to accept.

दीप जिस का महल्लात ही में जले

चंद लोगों की ख़ुशियों को ले कर चले

वो जो साए में हर मस्लहत के पले

ऐसे दस्तूर को सुब्ह-ए-बे-नूर को

मैं नहीं मानता मैं नहीं जानता

मैं भी ख़ाइफ़ नहीं तख़्ता-ए-दार से

मैं भी मंसूर हूँ कह दो अग़्यार से

क्यूँ डराते हो ज़िंदाँ की दीवार से

ज़ुल्म की बात को जहल की रात को

मैं नहीं मानता मैं नहीं जानता

फूल शाख़ों पे खिलने लगे तुम कहो

जाम रिंदों को मिलने लगे तुम कहो

चाक सीनों के सिलने लगे तुम कहो

इस खुले झूट को ज़ेहन की लूट को

मैं नहीं मानता मैं नहीं जानता

तुम ने लूटा है सदियों हमारा सुकूँ

अब न हम पर चलेगा तुम्हारा फ़ुसूँ

चारागर दर्दमंदों के बनते हो क्यूँ

तुम नहीं चारागर कोई माने मगर

मैं नहीं मानता मैं नहीं जानता

Habib Jalib's poems used in Pakistani films

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 Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran. She refused and as a consequence the police was sent to force and bring her, which led to her attempting to commit suicide. This incident inspired a poem by Jalib, which was later included by Neelo's husband Riaz Shahid in the film Zarqa (1969). The poem was titled Raqs-e-Zanjeer (The dance of the chains):[9]

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 chains on oneself.

Haidarabad Conspiracy Case

On the third day after the death of his twelve-year-old son in 1976, Hyderabad forces surrounded his house and arrested him in a conspiracy case.

A total of 55 people were arrested in this case, including Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Mir Ghos Bakhsh Bizenjo, Attaullah Mengal, Khair Bakhsh Marri and Qasim Zia.[12]

Bhutto's government

In 1972 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came to power in Pakistan after the 1971 war with India and a new independent country called Bangladesh emerged from former East Pakistan. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came to power in former West Pakistan, thereafter called simply Pakistan.

After Bhutto's hanging, Habib Jalib wrote the following poem:[13]

ٹوٹا ہے کہاں اس کا جادو
اک نعرہ بنا ہے اس کا لہو
ثابت ہوا دھڑکن دھڑکن پر وہ شخص حکومت کرتا تھا
لڑتا تھا وہ اپنے جیسوں سے ہم سے تو محبت کرتا تھا
His magic has not been broken
His blood became a slogan
It has been proved, that he ruled his people's hearts
He used to fight with the people like him (Feudal Lords), but with the (poor) people like us, he used to love.

Zia-ul-Haq's martial law

During General Zia-ul-Haq's dictatorship, Jalib wrote a poem on Zia,[14] in which 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

After General Zia-ul-Haq's death in 1988, Benazir Bhutto came to power and released Habib Jalib. Disappointed at the state of the nation, when asked if he felt any change after democracy, he said:

حال اب تک وہی ہیں فقیروں کے
دن پھرے ہیں فقط وزیروں کے
ہر بلاول ہے دیس کا مقروض
پاؤں ننگے ہیں بے نظیروں کے
Haal ab tak wahi hain faqiroan 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 (i.e the poor) of the country walk without shoes


Habib Jalib died on 12 March 1993 and was laid to rest in Shah Fareed Graveyard, Sabzazar, Lahore.


Some poems in his own voice

Recent tributes

Laal band remastered and remixed the revolutionary poem "Dastoor" in Habib Jalib's voice and included it in their 2009 album Umeed-e-Sahar.

On 23 March 2009, President of Pakistan awarded the highest civil award (posthumously) to the legendary poet, which was received by his daughter, Tahira Habib Jalib.[2]

See also



  1. ^ a b c Profile of Habib Jalib Retrieved 27 February 2018
  2. ^ a b "Posthumous awards for Jalib, former Dawn editor". Dawn (newspaper). 23 March 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  3. ^ "Jalib's daughter passes away". 29 July 2009.
  4. ^ Faiz Ahmed Faiz's quote as a tribute to Habib Jalib in an article Retrieved 27 February 2018
  5. ^ "Remembering revolutionary poet Habib Jalib on his 24th death anniversary - Pakistan - DAWN.COM". 12 March 2017.
  6. ^ Farooqi, Khalid Hameed (21 October 2020). "'Habib Jalib's life a beacon for today's poets and writers'". Geo News. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  7. ^ "The Poetry of Habib Jalib". www.revolutionarydemocracy.org. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  8. ^ Habib Jalib on metblogs.com website Retrieved 27 February 2018
  9. ^ Mujahid Barelvi (10 June 2011). "Habib Jalib's poem for film actress Neelo". The Friday Times (newspaper). Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  10. ^ Soundtrack of film Zarqa (1969) on IMDb website Retrieved 27 February 2018
  11. ^ Soundtrack of film Yeh Aman (1971) on IMDb website Retrieved 27 February 2018
  12. ^ "حبیب جالب". 25 April 2023. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
  13. ^ Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Recollections and Remembrance, p139, Retrieved 27 February 2018
  14. ^ Video on YouTube, Habib Jalib's poem on General Zia-ul Haq, Published 19 November 2010, Retrieved 27 February 2018