Since my article Bring Back Jagannath Azad’s Pakistan Anthem published in The Hindu on Sept 22 (slightly shorter version first published by Dawn on Sept 19) I have learnt that my ignorance on the matter was all the more deplorable given the previously published material that I have since come across. Besides Zaheer Kidvai’s recollections in his blog, that I mentioned in my blog post later, there is Adil Najam’s June 2009 post Prof. Jagan Nath Azad: Creator of Pakistan’s First National Anthem. Najam refers to Zaheer’s post as well as an article by Ashfaque Naqvi in A word about Jagan Nath Azad (Dawn, June 27, 2004), which contains a passing mention of this little known fact about Azad’s authoring of the first national anthem.
But perhaps the most significant contribution to this information was published in 2004, when the well-known writer Zaheda Hina wrote a beautiful obituary on Azad – as Dr Mubashir Hasan in Lahore called to inform me. He kindly sent me a copy of this piece (which he had himself obtained it from I.A. Rehman some time back) uploaded below – ‘Maut chahe bhi tau naam uss ka mitta sakti nahin’ (Death, even if it wanted, cannot erase his name). It contains several verses from Azad’s anthem for Pakistan that Mr Jinnah himself had commissioned and approved, besides some of his other poetry.
I spoke to her this morning, embarrassed at my ignorance – she was her usual gracious and good-humoured self. “I was just saying to someone,” she said laughing, “that us Urdu writers can slog away but it’s only when someone writes the same thing in English that a big fuss is made of it.” Of course that speaks volumes about the status of English versus the local languages but that’s the subject of another debate.
She told me that parts of the article reproduced below were published in Jang, where she then had a weekly column. She said she wrote about Azad again in her column for Express a few months ago, and has promised to send me a copy.