Habib Jalib (Urdu: 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.[3] He opposed military coups and administrators and was duly jailed several times.[4]

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
Died12 March 1993(1993-03-12) (aged 64)[1]
Lahore, 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)
ChildrenTahira Habib Jalib

Early lifeEdit

Habib Jalib was born as Habib Ahmad on 24 March 1928 in a village near Hoshiarpur, British India. He migrated to Pakistan after the partition of India.[5] 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 viewsEdit

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
the night of the period of shortsightedness [6]

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:

Original Urdu English translation

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
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.

Habib Jalib's poems used in Pakistani filmsEdit

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):[7]

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.
  • The above Nazm/Song was included in film producer Riaz Shahid's film Zarqa (1969) in Mehdi Hassan's vocals which became a super-hit film song among the public in 1969 in Pakistan.[8]
  • " Zulm Rahay Aur Amn Bhi Ho, Kaya Mumkin Hai Tum Hi Kaho" Sung by both Noor Jehan and Mehdi Hassan in film Yeh Aman (1971), lyrics by Habib Jalib and music by A. Hameed.[9] This film song also became very popular.

Bhutto's governmentEdit

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 death, Habib Jalib wrote the following poem:[10]

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 lawEdit

During General Zia-ul-Haq's dictatorship, Jalib wrote a poem on Zia,[11] 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 governmentEdit

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 laid to rest in Shah Fareed Graveyard Sabzazar Lahore.


Some poems in his own voice

Recent tributesEdit

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 alsoEdit


  • Sir-e-Maqtal2
  • Zikr Behte Khoon Ka
  • Gumbad-e-Bedar
  • Kulyaat e Habib Jalib
  • Is Shehar-e-Kharabi Main
  • Goshay Main Qafas K
  • Harf-e-Haqq
  • Harf-e-Sar-e-Daar
  • Ehad-e-Sitam


  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. ^ Faiz Ahmed Faiz's quote as a tribute to Habib Jalib in an article Retrieved 27 February 2018
  4. ^ "Remembering revolutionary poet Habib Jalib on his 24th death anniversary - Pakistan - DAWN.COM".
  5. ^ http://www.revolutionarydemocracy.org/rdv13n2/poetry.htm, Retrieved 27 February 2018
  6. ^ Habib Jalib on metblogs.com website Retrieved 27 February 2018
  7. ^ Mujahid Barelvi (10 June 2011). "Habib Jalib's poem for film actress Neelo". The Friday Times (newspaper). Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  8. ^ Soundtrack of film Zarqa (1969) on IMDb website Retrieved 27 February 2018
  9. ^ Soundtrack of film Yeh Aman (1971) on IMDb website Retrieved 27 February 2018
  10. ^ Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Recollections and Remembrance, p139, Retrieved 27 February 2018
  11. ^ Video on YouTube, Habib Jalib's poem on General Zia-ul Haq, Published 19 November 2010, Retrieved 27 February 2018

External linksEdit