Habib Jalib a revolutionist!
The light which shines only in palaces, Burns up the joy of the people in the shadows
Derives its strengths from others’ weakness, That kind of system,
Like dawn without light, I refuse to acknowledge, I refuse to accept
On March, 24. 1928 in a village near Hoshiarpur (British India) a little boy was born named Habib Ahmad, who grew up to become “Habib Jalib” by raising the voice of poor, enslaved victims of the UN-divided India. He was a revolutionary poet, who opposed martial law when no one else could even speak about it, but he did and kept on opposing it until his last breath. He was an activist in the times when people were afraid and were a victim of oppression from the state and the Leaders.
During his early years, he lived in India but after partition, he migrated to Pakistan forcefully because he wanted to stay in India and support the famous “two-nation theory”. He started his career as a proofreader in a newspaper called Daily Imroze. But the spark inside him burned brighter than the fire around him and he emerged as a poet. He caught people’s eye by the recitation of his own poetry. People used to listen to him for hours since there were no radios back then but yet his voice echoed the whole area. He was one of those ordinary people who is loved by everyone and this is what attracted people the most. His beautiful recitation when mingled with his words, addressing the feelings of common people, was something that thrilled. He bravely depicted the socio-political issues that he felt in those times.
He criticized Ayub’s Martial Law as
There is the smoke of tear gas in the air
And bullets are raining all around
How can I praise thee?
The night of reduced sightedness
Jalib was never convinced by Ayub. No matter how badly every dictator and politician of that time wanted to buy him and his words. For he has that power in his poetry and his musical recitation that it stirred the public and the politician of that time wanted him to sing for them but he clearly refused. When it all reached to the peak, Fatima Jinnah decided to throw election against Gen. Ayub Khan. By then, Jalib was banned from media but he made appearances in Fatima Jinnah’s meetings and recite his poems to keep the people enlightened and charged.
His famous poem at that time was:
The paradise is under the feet of the mother. So, come into her fold.
It was 1972 when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto came into power with a separate country known as Bangladesh which came out of existing East Pakistan. This was a great set back to every rich or poor, big or small. And then Bhutto was executed and Jalib wrote a poem at that crucial moment too.
His magic has been broken
His blood became a slogan
It has been proven, that he ruled over his people’s heart
He used to fight with the people like him (rich) but with the people like us, he used to love
It was the time when another dictator Gen. Zia-Ul-Haq came into charge while climbing the ladder of Martial Law. It sure was that time when the ones who spoke a lot at the back didn’t have the courage to speak in front of him. But it was Jalib who spoke in every regime and thou Zia means light in Urdu he referred it to as darkness and described the tenure as the darkest of all.
Darkness as light, hot desert wind as a morning breeze, How can I write a human as God?
This poem literally revealed the ground-breaking reality of Gen. Zia’s Regime and it was the very time Jalib was sent to Jail again and Ch. Zahoor Elahi a friend of Habib Jalib requested Gen. Zia-Ul-Haq to bail Jalib out of jail but he only accepted on the condition that if he omits the above-mentioned phrase from his poem.
Jalib refused the offer and not only refused it but also said, “Whenever I write a poem it becomes a public mandate. I cannot take it back”
After the death of Gen. Zia-Ul-Haq in a plane crash in 1988, Habib Jalib was released from jail in Benazir Bhutto’s (daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) government and he felt that there was no change after the self-benefited democracy.
The status of the poor is still the same
The days of the ministers have indeed changed
Every Bilawal (son of Benazir) is in debt
And every Benazir (the poor) walks without shoes
But for every star with huge mass becomes dark once and tastes death for it is the promise we do to our creator and thus in March, 12. 1993 Habib Jalib was also known as the revolutionist of his own kind, a left-wing activist and a common man died, forgetting his own profound sorrows, he grieved and wrote for suffering masses!
Written by: Zia Ur Rehman Rathore