Prof Jagan Nath Azad

Pakistan's National Anthem

A Brief History


As the partition of India approached and Pakistan was about to be established, there was neither a national anthem nor a flag of Pakistan in place.

On 9 August 1947, Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah's office asked my father, Jagan Nath Azad, (then living in Lahore), to write a National Anthem for Pakistan.

The Constituent Assembly approved the design of the flag on 11 August.

Although the song 'Pakistan Zindabad, Azadi Paaindabad' accompanied the raising of the flag on 14 August, it was Azad's composition, 'Ai Sarzameen-e-Pak', approved by Qaid-e-Azam, that was aired on Radio Lahore at the same time. 'Ai Sarzameen-e-Pak' remained Pakistan's National Anthem till the National Anthem Committee was established in December 1948.

The Committee approved Ahmed Ghulam Ali Chhagla's musical composition in 1950, but the lyrics to accomapny it (Hafeez Jalandhari's 'Pak sarzamin shaad baad, Kishwar-e-hasin shaad baad').were not approved till 1954.

The new National Anthem was first boadcast by Radio Pakistan on August 13, 1954.

Shortly before my father's demise (24 July 2004), Luv Puri (an award-winning Indian journalist) interviewed him. The interview was reported in the the 16-31 August 2004 issue of the Milli Gazette (Link to Milli Gazette report). The Hindu of 19 June 2005 (Link to The Hindu report). carried a similar report. Parts of these reports - claiming that, “A Hindu wrote Pakistan's first national anthem” and that, “Jinnah got Urdu-knowing Jagannath Azad to write the song” - initiated a controversy in the academic circles of Pakistan.

Journalist & activist Beena Sarwar led the campaign for Pakistan to recognise my father’s Tarana-e-Pakistan as a national anthem (Link to The Hindu 22 Sep 2009) and prominent historians Dr. Safdar Mahmood & Aqeel Abbas Jafri (author of Pakistan Chronicle) (Link to Khurram's Desk 18 Aug 2010) refuted Luv Puri's claim of the Tarana ever being the National Anthem of Pakistan or being broadcast from Radio Pakistan.

My father himself refers to hearing his Tarana-e-Pakistan being broadcast from Radio Pakistan (Lahore) on the night of 14 August 1947 in his book “Ankhen Tarastiyan Hein" (pages 29 - 30) published in 1981:
Translation: Speaking of 1947 reminds me that my decision to leave Lahore was made in a hurry. I had not intended to leave Lahore in a hurry - in fact I wanted to stay there permanently. It so happened that where I lived was a predominently Hindu area and the Hindus has started to vacate it when the troubles started. A few of us had decided that we will not leave our homes & our country but every morning brought news of people who had not been able to stick to this decision and the number of these decision-makers was reducing day-by-day. One day I realised that I was the only remaining Hindu out of the 60,000 population - everyone had left. It was in such atmosphere that I heard my Tarana-e-Pakistan being broadcast by Radio Lahore on the night of 14 August 1947:
Ai sarzameen-e-Pak / Zarre tere hei.n aaj sitaaron se taabnaak / Roshan hai Kehksha.n se kahi.n aaj teri khaak / Tundi-e-Hasdaa.n pey hai ghalib tera swaak / Daman woh sil gaya hai jo tha mudatto.n say chaak / Ai sarzameen-e-Pak .....

In a footnote in “Hayat-e-Mehroom” published in 1987 he wrote: Tarana
Translation: I was still in Lahore, living in my house in Ramnagar with the intention of never leaving Lahore. In those days Pakistan probably had only two radio stations: one in Lahore and the other in Peshawar. When Radio Pakistan (Lahore) made the announcement of the founding of Pakistan that night, it was followed by a broadcast of my National Anthem ‘Zarre tere hein aaj sitaaron se taabnaak, Ai sarzameen-e-Pak’. The other side of this image is that on the next day, 15 August 1947 – when India was celebrating its independence – Hafeez Jalandhari’s anthem ‘Ai watan, Ai India, Ai Bharat, Ai Hindustan’ was broadcast by All India Radio (Delhi)”.

I will give the last word to Dr Khaliq Anjum (author and General Secretary, Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu Hind). In his foreward to “Jagan Nath Azad – Hayat Aur Adabi Khidmaat” published in 1993 he says: Tarana
Translation: Before saying anything else, let me relate an incident that not many Urdu speaking people know about. It happened while Azad sahib was still in his country - Pakistan. People with authority in Pakistan (Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s office?) asked Azad sahib to write a tarana for Pakistan. What can be a greater honour, particularly for a non-Muslim, than having his Tarana broadcast from Radio Lahore immediately after the announcement of Pakistan’s establishment on the night of 14 August 1947? Some lines from this Tarana follow:
Ai sarzameen-e-Pak / Zarre tere hei.n aaj sitaaron se taabnaak / Roshan hai Kehksha.n se kahi.n aaj teri khaak /

I am confident that my father, if he was still alive, would not wish to influence the debate. Nor do I! The choice of the National Anthem of Pakistan must be that of the people of Pakistan.

May the people of India & Pakistan live in harmony for ever ....

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Created on 5 December 2006
Reviewed on 23 February 2014
Layout, design & revision © 2006 Pammi Taylor