Tale of two Delhi poets and the Pak national anthem

- August 14, 2023

Poet Jagannath Azad, who wrote the first national anthem of Pakistan on Jinnah’s request, shifted to Delhi from Pakistan, while Hafiz Jalandhari, whose anthem was later adopted by Pakistan, moved to the new country from Delhi

Jagannath Azad

Mohammad Ali Jinnah had surprised one and all when he asked a Hindu Urdu poet Jaganath Azad to write the Qaumi Tarana (national anthem) of the newly created Pakistan once partition of the country became a reality. 

Azad’s Tarana was played on Pakistan’s national radio on August 14, 1947. However, it was never officially adopted as Pakistan’s national anthem. 

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According to noted writer, Trilok Deep, “After the demise of Jinnah in 1948, Azad’s Tarana was abandoned by Pakistan. Even before that, Azad had moved to Delhi. After reaching Delhi’s gigantic Delhi Junction, he was provided a good house at Pul Bangash by his friend to live.” 

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It is said that noted Urdu writer Firaq Gorakhpuri and others were regulars at his Pul Bangash house.

Jagannath Azad was born in 1918 in Mianwali (now in Pakistan). His father Tilok Chand was a famous Urdu poet. Azad secured several posts in various Urdu publications after he shifted to India. He served as Information Officer in various ministries of the Government of India from 1955 to 1977. After retirement from service, he became a professor at University of Jammu’s Urdu department. 

He passed away in 2004. One of his two sons, Adarsh Azad Arora worked for the All India Radio.  

Meanwhile, it was Hafiz Jalandhari, who finally wrote the national anthem of Pakistan. Even he had lived in Delhi prior to 1947. He was working for the All India Radio then. 

IP Singh Bawa, a former Doordarshan newsreader, says, “Hafiz Jalandhari and my father were colleagues in All India Radio, Delhi. While in Delhi, Jalandhari was living at Windsor Lane.”

Jalandhri also wrote the all-time favourite, “Abhi to mein jawaan houn”. 

Sung by Malika Pukhraj, the poem became iconic. 

It is said that when the government of Pakistan in 1952 formed a committee to prepare the national anthem, Jalandhri’s lyrics got selected out of 723 people.

The national anthem has faced criticism due to the language as critics say almost all its vocabulary is Persian.

The writer is a Delhi-based senior journalist and author of two books ‘Gandhi’s Delhi: April 12, 1915-January 30, 1948 and Beyond’ and ‘Dilli Ka Pehla Pyar – Connaught Place’