Habib Jalib was a Pakistani revolutionary poet, left-wing activist and politician who opposed martial law, authoritarianism and state oppression.
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 and 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.
Jalib was a Marxist-Leninist and aspired to the ideals of Communism. He was initially a member of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP), but joined the National Awami Party (NAP) in 1957 following the ban on the CPP in 1954. His views led to imprisonment.
Ayub Khan's martial law
Jalib was first imprisoned during the martial law regime of Ayub Khan due to his opposition of Khan's policies. He wrote his poem "Dastoor" during those days.
Criticizing those who supported 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
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|
Jalib was banned from official media but he remained undeterred. He rather started a tirade against the tyranny with more resolution. It reached its zenith when Fatima Jinnah decided to contest elections against Ayub Khan. All democratic forces rallied around her and at her election meetings, Jalib used to recite his fiery poems in front of an emotionally charged crowd. His most popular poem at that time was:
- ماں کے پائوں تلے جنت ہے ادھر آجائو
- Maan kay paon talay jannat hai idhar aa jao
- The paradise is under the feet of the mother. So come into her fold.
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 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 Zerqa. The poem was titled Raqs-e-Zanjeer (The dance of the chains):
- 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 fetters on.
In 1972 Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came to power. According to sources[who?] close to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, one day Habib Jalib went to Bhutto's place to meet him. When Bhutto on invited him to join his political Party, Jalib asked, "Have the oceans ever fallen in rivers?"[this quote needs a citation]
After Bhutto's death, Habib Jalib wrote the following poem:
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, 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
- while Benazirs (literally the poor) of the country walk without shoes
Habib Jalib died on March 12, 1993. His family refused the offer of the government to pay for his funeral expenses. Qateel Shifai expressed his sorrow and grief in these words:
- اپنے سارے درد بھلا کر اوروں کے دکھ سہتا تھا
- ہم جب غزلیں کہتے تھے وہ اکثر جیل میں رہتا تھا
- آخر چلا ہی گیا وہ روٹھ کر ہم فرزانوں سے
- وہ دیوانہ جس کو زمانہ جالب جالب کہتا تھا
- Apney saarey dard bhula kar auron ke dukh sehta tha
- Hum jub ghazlain kehtey thay wo aksar jail main rehta tha
- Aakhir chala hee gya wo rooth kar hum farzanoun se
- Wo deewana jisko zamana Jalib Jalib kehta tha
He mainly wrote about the evils brought upon society by corruption and inequity. An example is:
- فرنگی کا جو میں دربان ہوتا
- تو جینا کس قدر آسان ہوتا
- میرے بچے بھی امریکہ میں پڑھتے
- میں ہر گرمی میں انگلستان ہوتا
- مری انگلش بھی بلا کی چست ہوتی
- بلا سے جو نہ میں اردو دان ہوتا
- سر جھکاکے جو ہو جاتا 'سر' میں
- تو لیڈر بھی عظیم الشان ہوتا
- زمینیں میری ہر صوبے میں ہوتیں
- میں واللہ صدرِ پاکستان ہوتا
- Farangi ka jo main darbaan hota
- Tho jeena kis kadar aasaan hota
- Meray bachay bhi amreeka may parthay
- Main Har garmi may main Inglistaan hota
- Meree English bhi balaa ki chusth hotee
- Balaa say jo na main Urdu-daan hota
- Sar jhuka kay jo ho jaata sir main
- Tho leader bhi azeem-u-shaan hota
- Zameenain meree har soobay may hoteen
- May wallah sadr-e-Pakistan hota
- Some poems in his own voice
Recent tributesTwo members of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party — Shahram Azhar and Taimur Rahman — launched a music video reciting Jalib's famous poem "Musheer Se" under the band title Laal, symbolizing Jalib's struggle for the workers and peasants.
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 has given the highest civil award (posthumously) to the legendary poet, which was received by his daughter.
Solo artist Umair Salim composed his poem "Dastoor" in a musical track to tribute the poet on his death anniversary in 2009, followed by a music video portraying Habib Jalib's life.
But as nation remembers this great poet, Pakistani channels have aired a story that Habib Jalib’s wife is fighting with illness and she is deprived of the money President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister have announced for her. 
- Zikr Behte Khoon Ka
- Kulyaat e Habib Jalib
- Is Shehar-e-Kharabi Main
- Goshay Main Qafas K