‘Jinnah’s Secularism: A Hindu wrote Pak’s first national anthem’

Photo of Jagannath Azad in PIA's 'Hamsafar', Aug 2009

Photo of Jagannath Azad in PIA’s ‘Hamsafar’, Aug 2009

I first learnt about Pakistan’s original national anthem, especially commissioned by Mr Jinnah from the poet Jaganath Azad of Lahore, in ‘Hamsafar‘, Pakistan International Airlines’ monthly magazine in its August issue when flying back to Karachi from Lahore on Aug 9. This national anthem lasted only until a few months after Mr Jinnah’s death – after which his successors commissioned a more Persianised one that Hafeez Jullandari wrote. Please note, you would never have read this in any official literature a couple of years ago, ‘enlightened moderation’ notwithstanding.

A subsequent article in The Kashmir Times (below), confirmed this startling (for me) information, included in my recent article on the Jaswant Singh-Jinnah controversy Jinnah re-visited, thank you Jaswant Singh (posted on various email lists; couldn’t find the web-link but the author’s email and blogs are included below)

P.S. Just learnt that Zaheer A. Kidvai talked about this in his blogpost of May 03, 2009,Windmills of my mind – ‘A Tale of Two Anthems’, thanks Zak). Over to Chander K. Azad in Kashmir Times:

CLARIFICATION: The article below, ‘Jinnah’s Secularism: A Hindu wrote Pak’s first national anthem – How Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam got Urdu-knowing Jagannath Azad to write the song’ was published in the Kashmir Times, Jammu. The author was the Indian journalist Luv Puri who interviewed Jagannath Azad but the Kashmir Times inadvertently published it with the byline of Chander K. Azad, Jagannath Azad’s son who had sent it to the editor (see note in Comments section).

Kashmir Times August 21, 2009

Aey sarzameen-i-pak
Zarrey terey hein aaj sitaron sey tabnak
Roshan heh kehkashan sey kahin aaj teri khak.”
(“Oh land of Pakistan, each particle of yours is being illuminated by stars.
Even your dust has been brightened like a rainbow.”‘)

These are lines from Pakistan’s first national anthem — written by Jagannath Azad, a Lahore-based Hindu, acceding to the wishes of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the country’s founder and first Governor-General.

As the debate about Jinnah’s secular August 1947 vision of his country rages on, this little known fact will be of public interest. Days before his death in 2004, Azad recalled the circumstances under which he was asked by Jinnah to write Pakistan’s national anthem:

“In August 1947, when mayhem had struck the whole Indian subcontinent, I was in Lahore working in a literary newspaper. All my relatives had left for India and for me to think of leaving Lahore was painful. I decided to take a chance and stay on for some time. My Muslim friends requested me to stay on and took responsibility of my safety. On the morning of August 9, 1947, there was a message from Pakistan’s first Governor-General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. It was through a friend working in Radio Lahore who called me to his office. He told me `Qaid-e-Azam wants you to write a national anthem for Pakistan.’ I told them it would be difficult to pen it in five days and my friend pleaded that as the request has come from the tallest leader of Pakistan, I should consider his request. On much persistence, I agreed.

Why him? “The answer to this question,” Azad said , “has to be understood by recalling the inaugural speech of Jinnah Sahib as Governor General of Pakistan. 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.’

It is for historians and analysts to judge what made Jinnah Sahib make this speech. But clearly as understood by the speech was the fact he wanted to create a secular Pakistan, despite the fact the whole continent, particularly the Punjab province, had seen a human tragedy in the form of communal massacres. Said Azad, “Even I was surprised when my colleagues in Radio Pakistan, Lahore approached me. I asked them why Jinnah Sahib wanted me to write the anthem. They confided in me that `Qaid-e-Azam wanted the anthem to be written by an Urdu-knowing Hindu.’ Azad goes on to say, “Through this, I believe Jinnah Sahib wanted to sow the roots of secularism in a Pakistan where intolerance had no place.”

The national anthem written by Jagannath Azad was sent to Jinnah, who approved it in a few hours. It was sung for the first time on Pakistan Radio, Karachi (which was then the capital of Pakistan).

The song written by Jagannath Azad served as Pakistan’s national anthem for a year and a half. After Jinnah’s death, a song written by the Urdu poet Hafiz Jallundhari was chosen as the national anthem.


Allah, Farid, juhdi hamesha
Au Shaikh Farid, juhdi Allah Allah.
Acquiring Allah’s grace is the aim of my jihad, 0 Farid!
Come Shaikh Farid! Allah, Allah’s grace alone is ever the aim of my jihad
(Baba Guru Nanak Sahib to Baba Shaikh Farid Sahib)



5 Responses

  1. Note received Aug 31, 2009:

    I would like to clarify that I am not the author of this piece. I found this document somewhere and I decided to have it published. My note, subsequently published in the Kashmir Times on Aug., 25, 2009 in letters to the editor [below], is self explanatory. I never professed to having authored it. The reference to my name having authored the piece is inadvertent. Sh. Ved Bhasin informed me that it is authored by Sh. Luv Puri who interviewed my father.


    Chander K. Azad
    s/o Late Prof. Jagan Nath Azad
    I decided to bring to the fore the event of a Hindu being asked to write the National Anthem of Pakistan by Quaid-e-Azam in the light of the controversy raging in BJP on the issue of Jaswant Singh viz a viz Jinnah. It may suit the BJP to whip up anti Jinnah sentiments for it’s vote bank politics but it is unfair to Posterity and the national interest where people living in the sub-continent are increasingly subject to communal divide. Is the party doing any service to the nation by stoking the fires of hatred?

    It is a fact ignored since long that the National Anthem of Pakistan was written by a Hindu on the request of Quaid-e-Azam on Aug.9,1947 to my father, Emeritus Prof. Dr. Jagan Nath Azad, the world renowned Urdu Literatteur and poet.This fact is in the National Archives of India. This was the secularism of Quaid-e-Azam but BJP projects him as a communal fanatic. I think it is more the other way round. When L K Advani praised Jinnah in 2005 for his speech to the General Assemby of Pakistan on Aug. 14, 1947, as the first Governer General of Pakistan, extolling secular path for Pakistan, BJP cried foul. But facts are facts. BJP cannot suppress facts. That time too, while in Pakistan, Advaniji made a special mention of my father having written the National Anthem. My father quoted that historic speech of Jinnah where 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.’ Historically, if in general Indians are dissapointed at the subsequent turn of events in Pakistan, it can only be attributed to the fact the writ of one man could not run in a country in the hands of the Army. And sixty years down the road India should shrug the congenital fear and accept the creation of Pakistan.

    If the core ideology of BJP revolves around demonising our neighbours, we are creating more of them. Kasab is the latest. Till yesterday I was a staunch supporter of BJP and have voted for it for four decades. Today I am doing a ‘Chintan Baithak’. BJP’s Chintan Baithak at Simla should prod a Chintan at the national level where people in India should realise that the Partition of India was not as bad as it is played up. Thank Jinnah that the Taliban are in Swat valley in Pakistan. They would have been on the borders of India otherwise ! It is also important that we learn to differentiate between the words, Fundamentalist, Fanatic and Communal. All three have different connotations but are commonly understood to be the same. Jinnah was a Fundamentalist, which we all should be , if we believe in our ideologies. Fanatics persue misguided ideologies. Communalists persue intolerant ideologies. BJP’ communal overtones will only send it into a tailspin.

    Chander K. Azad
    Jammu – J & K.


    • Note re: ‘A Hindu wrote Pakistan’s first national anthem – How Jinnah gotUrdu-knowingJagannath Azad to write the song’ – A web search reveals that Luv Puri wrote this report for ‘The Hindu’, published on the front page on Jun 19, 2005.


  2. Sharing an email from Jagannath Azad’s son in Jammu

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: chander k. azad
    Date: Mon, Sep 7, 2009 at 10:23 PM
    Subject: info on Dr Jagan Nath Azad
    To: beena.sarwar@…

    September 6, 2009

    Dear Beena ji,

    Read with interest your piece (peace) in Kashmir Times Sep., 06,’09 (Neighbours in peace – or pieces?).

    Kudos for being an Indian agent. Might console you to know that there are millions of Pakistani agents on this side. Yes, we are agents of humanity, peace and posess no hard feelings !!! only respect and love for all and with an eye on the future. The past is gone. Remember only the good things of the past. Forget the rest. Bury the hatchet.

    Your objectivity is what I admire. No taking sides for the sake of it. Heart of it, most of us (detached of political or fanatic cues), are peace loving , humane and gregarious. I hope your mention of Pakistani fallacies is matched by Indians in admitting blunders committed by Indian politicians against Pakistan. You mention Kargil by Pakistan. I say East Pakistan (Bangladesh) by India. Can that be condoned?

    You asked me about some biographical details of my father. Dad migrated to Delhi sometime mid-September 1947. But again returned to Lahore in October. However, his friends advised him against staying as they found it difficult to keep him safe due to worsening situation. He returned to Delhi with a refugee party.

    He joined “MILAP” (Urdu Daily) as Assistant Editor in November 1947. In 1950 he joined Ministry of Information & Broadcasting as Asstt. Editor (Urdu) Publications Division. Retired in 1977 as Director of Public Relations, Govt. of India, Srinagar, J & K, a key bureaucratic position he held for five years . During this period I was witness to history of the State of J & k being carved and his unchronicled sentinel contribution towards it. The poet in him got the breathing space in 1997 when he retired from Govt. service but was appointed as Professor and Head of Urdu Deptt. , Jammu University by Chief Minister Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah Sahib who candidly told him “ Hum apko Dilli Vapas jaane nahin denge.”

    During his lifetime my father authored and published around 73 books. He was recipient of hundreds of national and international awards including:

    1. Pakistan President Iqbal Medal (1979),
    2. Award of Emeritus Fellowship by Jammu University (1884 Till Life),
    3. Iqbal Award-Gold Medal & Citation, Iqbal Academy, Hyderabad (1987),
    4. Conferment of the degree of D. Lit. (Honoris Causa)by Kashmir University (1989),
    5. Soviet Land Nehru Award (1989),
    6. Conferment of the degree of D. Lit. (Honoris Causa)by Jammu University (1994),
    7. Conferment of degree of Ph. D on six scholars ‘on the life of Prof. Azad”.

    He is known to have visited Universities all over the Orient and the Occident to deliver extension lectures .

    If you desire, I can post you a copy of his Biography compiled by Prof. Assadulah Wani, Jammu University. You have to send me your postal address for that.

    ***His last manuscript (unpublished) “Roodad-e-Iqbal” has this preface by him, I quote,” anything on Iqbal after this has no meaning” The manuscript is with me and I do not know what to do with it.

    With regards and best wishes,

    Chander K Azad.
    108 / 5, Greater Kailash , Jammu,
    J & k. -180011


    • March 27, 2010

      Dear Chander K. Azad Sahib,

      I had been looking for the original National Anthem of Pakistan as penned by your dad but could not find it in its entirety. I have only one line or two as reported in the Dawn – a Pakistan English News paper. While doing the same research I came across your name and am curious if you would have a copy of it. I am not aware of the fact if you can read Urdu or not because it would be hard for you to trace it in your father’s manuscripts, if he had it saved some where in his collections.
      Will if be possible for you to put the “Rodad-e-Iqbal” over the internet for Iqbal’s fans? Your dad was considered one man who had done as much if not more then what Iqbal Academy had done. If it is hard to put it over the Internet then can you provide a zerox copy of it only to be made available over the internet. I shall be more than happy to bear all the needed expense and I’ll have it re-written and put it over the internet. Thanks. Edward J. Rai


      • Email reply from Chander K. Azad (copied to me):
        Dear Sir,
        It is my pleasure and proud privelege to forward to you a copy of the National Anthem of Pakistan penned by my father.
        As for ‘Roodad-e-Iqbal”, I would not like to post it on the Net. I am interested in getting the work published first and then , if possible, post on the Net. It is a compilation of 646 pages in his own handwriting.
        Could you help me with some suggestions as to how I can go about.
        Yes, your impression about me perhaps not knowing Urdu is correct.Chirag taley andhera. And if it is Sun itself, the shadow encompasses the Hemisphere. My deprivation is the Urdu script. Half the Mankind is deprived of his Thoughts, which fortunately I was privy to on the Dining Table, occassionally, in the Twilight of his years.
        Chander K. Azad


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