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Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Tale of Two Anthems

Aé sarzameené paak
Zarray teray haéñ aaj sitaaroñ se taabnaak
Roshan haé kehkashaañ se kaheeñ aaj tayree khaak
Aé sarzameené paak

اے سرزمینِ پاك
ذرّے ترے ہیں آج ستاروں سے تابناك
روشن ہے كہكشاں سے كہیں آج تیری خاك
اے سرزمینِ پاك

O' pure land,
your every particle is more luminous than the stars.
Your dust is brighter than the Milky Way.
O' Pure Land

These are the only lines I can recall from Pakistan's FIRST National Anthem. It was written by the then Lahore-based poet, Jagannath Azad, in response to the Quaid's wish that our Anthem be written by a non-Muslim to underscore the vision of a secular Pakistan. The current Anthem (which includes the phrase Saayaé Khüdaaé Züljalaal that, now, apparently bristles some) was adopted just a few years later.

Can anyone help dig up the rest of the original?

While on the subject of the Anthem, people around my age may remember its majestic sound from the days of our youth. The richness of the band due so much, I guess, to the sounds of the instruments of that time - as well as the chorus version - has long disappeared, to be replaced by a relatively uninspiring re-recorded sound that leaves me cold.

Thanks to our finest composer-arranger-musician Arshad Mahmood's direction, and a brilliant recreation by the children of Karachi High School, you can download and hear that majesty again in this recording. 

I'd like to direct you to two of my earlier posts (this and this) that are linked to this topic.

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Blogger Hamza said...

i think the fact that the national anthem is not inspiring has more to do with the way it is sung, rather than the words. it's very military, and the bagpipes are just unfortunate in my opinion. but then i don't understand how the anthem is composed. is it really possible to sing it in a different way, or is the tune built into the words? it's odd how the french anthem is full of gore and violence. "let impure blood water our furrows," that sort of thing, but it still sounds great. our old one does sound very pretty though.

my first comment on your blog :) i've been reading it for a while though, and i really enjoy reading it :)

07 May, 2009 02:55

Blogger Zakintosh said...


Good to have you comment here.

Our anthem, I am afraid, IS rather martial and 'glorious' in a colonial kind of way … which is how people steeped in nationalism would like it to be.

While I am far from a nationalist, I like the music (after all, I also like the Emperor Concerto, with no love for the concept of Empire). On the other hand, its words - easy to understand for the 'educated' in my generation - are now lost on the bulk of the population.

I'd have preferred a more folksy anthem if one must have an unchangeable one at all.

A R Rehman's CD of the Indian National Anthem, as interpreted by their top musicians, is worth listening to. Since then, there have been attempts here, too, to sing ours in different ways ... but the 'official' version will remain this 'majestic' piece.

A question: Does your generation really identify with it and get all misty-eyed as my parents' generation did on hearing it?

17 May, 2009 02:49

Anonymous M. Arsalan said...

I think both of you forget that the NAtional anthem of Pakistan was FIRST just a tune and THEN the words were written for it. hence the difficult wordings. and lets not forget, no matter what people think now, Pakistan IS and WILL BE a muslim state.

21 August, 2009 10:21

Blogger Zakintosh said...

@M.Arsalan - I dunno about the other (in your 'both') but I am fully aware that the music for the current and official anthem was composed before the words. However, that offers no valid reason for the simplicity or the difficulty of words that are added later: That is dependent upon the skill of the poet. it would have been equally easy for Hafiz sahab who was fully conversant with the breadth of the language to write a differently worded anthem had he so wished. But there was an agenda that was being pushed and its merits or demerits are not within the scope of this discussion.

Pray tell, where did you find the reason in this post to have to remind us of the obvious fact that Pakistan is and will remain a Muslim state.
Of course you may have mistaken my reference to people bristling at the Khüdaaé Züljalaal bit. That was aimed at the idiots who insist upon Allah Hafiz and find Khüda Hafiz un-Islamic.

BTW, what people are arguing about is whether it will/should be a Muslim state or a theocratically run Islamic state.

21 August, 2009 12:29

Blogger Agha H Amin said...

well said . i read a similar article when i was very young in 1969 ,possibly naqoosh or somewhere else.thanks for puttimg this matter on your blog sir.

someone posted this on and i did post that you were the pioneer in putting this recprd straight.


Agha H Amin

22 September, 2009 17:47

Anonymous Yasser Latif HAmdani said...

Aga ji...

FYI... I - Yasser Latif Hamdani- unearthed this in 2005... way before this blog was written... way before Beena read the piece in PIA's Hum Safar. I was a sub-editor with Daily Times...

I don't mean to blow my own horn but well I am going to anyway ... because I am really happy that this has taken a life of its own.

25 February, 2010 10:20


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