I doubt many people realize this – and it was a shocking surprise for me as well – that the first National Anthem for Pakistan was written by a Hindu. His name was Jagan Nath Azad (1918-2004) and he was a prominent Urdu poet and educationist as well as an authority on Mohd. Iqbal. In 1937, he got a BA from Gordon College in Rawalpindi and in 1944 got an MA in Persian from the University of Punjab in Lahore.
He was personally asked by Mohd. Ali Jinnah on August 9, 1947 to write the first National Anthem or Qaumi Tarana for Pakistan. It went something like this (just the first 3 lines are now available):
Zarrey terey hein aaj sitaron sey tabnak
Roshan heh kehkashan sey kahin aaj teri khak
How and why he was asked is explained below:
All my relatives had left for India and for me to think of leaving Lahore was painful. My Muslim friends requested me to stay. On August 9, 1947, there was a message from Jinnah Sahib through one of my friends at Radio Pakistan Lahore. He told me ‘Quaid-e-Azam wants you to write a national anthem for Pakistan.’”
Why him? “The answer to this question,” Azad said in the interview, “has to be understood by recalling the inaugural speech of Jinnah Sahib as Pakistan’s governor general. He said: “You will find that in the course of time, Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.”
I asked my friends why Jinnah Sahib wanted me to write the anthem. They confided in me that “the Quaid wanted the anthem to be written by an Urdu-knowing Hindu.” Through this, I believe Jinnah Sahib wanted to sow the roots of secularism in a Pakistan.”
Azad migrated to Pakistan after partition and the National Anthem was changed after Jinnah’s death. Azad’s creation remained the Anthem for 18 months after which a song written by the Urdu poet Hafiz Jallundhari was chosen as the national anthem.
The fact that today, one can find only 3 lines of that original song, is a statement on where Pak as a nation has come to from its origin.
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