Seven decades of melodic patriotism | Pakistan Today

Seven decades of melodic patriotism

Songs of Pakistan

Mehdi Hassan in 1962, using the honeyed voice he had, sang to the nation Yeh watan tumhara hai, and with it disseminated the passion to own the land’s existence, associate our identities with its being and take care of it as a guardian. Mir-e-karwaan hum thay, rooh-e-karwaan tum ho.Hum to sirf unwaan thay, asal dastaan tum ho

Pak sarzamin shad bad is what describes Pakistan as a stretch of land that was made sacred by the unforgettable and precious sacrifice of several thousands of Muslims during the mass displacement that resulted as a corollary of the partition. Its harmonious tune alone suffices to give any Pakistani goosebumps. Though this particular aria, its lyrics written by Hafeez Jalandhari in 1952 preceded by the composition of its music by Ahmad G. Chagla in 1949, is exultantly celebrated as the national anthem of Pakistan, there have been written and composed many euphonious songs in the past seven decades that are hymned with equal zeal and ardour.

Millat ka pasbaan hai Muhammad Ali Jinnah is unparalleled in its kind because of being lyricked by Mian Bashir Ahmed, a leading member of the All India Muslim League during the freedom struggle, and for being read at the historic assemblage on 23 March 1940 in Lahore during which Pakistan Resolution was adopted. Munawwar Sultana and Qadir Faridi voiced the runes of the song in 1947 for Radio Pakistan Lahore, paying homage to the Father of the Nation and thanking him for his onerous efforts.

Another tribute was paid by Fayyaz Hashmi in 1957 to exonerate Quaid-e-Azam’s gruelling struggle to win an independent country for Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. He penned Aye Quaid-e-Azam tera ehsan hai ehsan for Bedari, a film that tops the list of the most patriotic Pakistani motion pictures. Such verses as “Dekha tha jo Iqbal ne ek khwaab suhaana, Uss khwaab ko ek roz haqeeqat hai banana” glorified our national heroes and revered the very concept of nationalism that formed the basis of Pakistan’s ideology. Saleem Raza gave two other hit numbers for the same movie, Hum laye hain toofan se kashti nikal ke and Aao bachon sair karayen tum ko Pakistan ki, that emphasised on keeping the spirit of the cause of independence alive in the hearts of forthcoming generations.

Yet another tarana whose significance cannot be enfeebled is the one that was written by the eminent Pakistani poet Shaukat Thanvi and approved by Quaid-e-Azam himself.Chaand roshan chamakta sitara rahe is said to have been aired on Radio Pakistan after Jinnah’s address to the nation on 14 August 1947. Composed by Qadir Faridi and originally sung by Dilshad Begum, this opus serves as a heartfelt prayer to see Pakistan rise and shine, “Ta qayamat yeh jhanda humaara rahe”.

Mehdi Hassan in 1962, using the honeyed voice he had, sang to the nation Yeh watan tumhara hai, and with it disseminated the passion to own the land’s existence, associate our identities with its being and take care of it as a guardian. Mir-e-karwaan hum thay, rooh-e-karwaan tum ho.Hum to sirf unwaan thay, asal dastaan tum ho.

The war fought in September 1965 changed phraseology of our patriotic songs as the purpose had then shifted from mere veneration to triggering such fervour and vehemence that was very much needed against our arch-rival neighbour India. This era gave us few of the most memorable anthems. While Aye raah-e-haq kay shaheedo and Aye watan kay sajeele jawaano sung by Naseem Begum and Madam Noor Jahan, respectively, extended deepest sympathy with the martyred brave soldiers and their bereaved families, Aye puttar hattan de nahi vikday and Jaag utha hai saara watan sathio aimed at intensifying and strengthening the morale of the whole nation, conveying the message of adamantine unity and unshaken resolve. The courage and willingness of every single Pakistani to stand abreast of the army in times of war could not be better expressed than in Apni jaan nazar karon by Late Mehdi Hassan.

The periods of turmoil soon ended and with it rejuvenated the commitment and gusto to love and serve Pakistan. It was Ustad Amanat Ali Khan’s resolute, yet soothing, voice that was used to preserve the pieces of poetry Chaand meri zameen and Aye watan pyare watan are. Along with the expression of deep endearment housed in the hearts of all Pakistanis, countless supplications were chanted to see Pakistan as green as ever. Aye nigar-e-watan tu salamat raheand Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan were major hits, the latter being listed among the best pieces written by Jamiluddin Aali.

The dawn of 1970s broke Pakistan into two and the struggle of East Pakistanis to win recognition for their language and culture incarnated as the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. History narrates the tales of grievances that our other half had from us and also that of the independence they gained after the loss of honour and lives of many. Yet there exists another account of history that recounts a different perspective. 1970s was the era of Alamgir and Shahnaz Begum, two of the many artists from East Pakistan that present-day Pakistan not only owns but also cherishes. Alamgir’s Allah ka inaam yeh azaad watan and Maon ki dua poori hui, and Shahnaz Begum’s Sohni dharti Allah rakhe andDiya jalaye rakhna hai are classic examples of the love for Pakistan these artists harbour in their hearts and the affection that this country has showered on them.

Alamgir continued to add more and more compositions to the list of melodious patriotic songs that were to make Pakistanis cheer and dance on their musical trills full of love for the land of the pure for many years to come. While the audio and visuals of Tum he se aye mujahido! Jahan ka sabat hai reverberate and amplify our faith in the military forces of Pakistan, the reprise of Hum zinda qaum hain reinforces our trust in the founding ideology of this country. He also collaborated with Nerissa, Beena and Shabana, more prominently known as the Benjamin Sisters, in 1982 to voice the masterpiece that Khayal rakhna is. Watan se hum hain, watan hai hum se, khayal rakhna not only reminds one of the blessing that has been bestowed on us as a nation in the form of Pakistan but also gives the message of taking up the responsibility of bettering our future. The three sisters also teamed up with the living legend Sajjad Ali to intone Aye rooh-e-Quaid aaj kay din, a song that vows to keep Pakistan safe and to guard its honour at any cost.

How can we forget the mesmerising lyrics and tune of Iss parcham kay saye talay hum ek hain! Sung by the Benjamin Sisters, the song is thus far played on every occasion of national significance. Its verses, Juda juda hain lehrain sargam ek hai to quote, urge to never disremember the cause for which different communal nationalities united under the flag of Muslim brotherhood to yearn for a separate homeland.

Another prominent voice of the 80’s was of Mohammad Ali Shehki who rose to fame due to the unique combination of Pakistani and Persian music in his compositions. Main bhi Pakistan hon, tu bhi Pakistan hai broke all records of fame and is chanted with same exuberance up to this time. The overwhelming simplicity of this song is what caught immediate attention of all and has still spellbound many.

The first half of the ‘80s is incomplete without the mention of Muhammad Ifrahim’s Zameen ki godd rang se umang se bhari rahe and Amjad Hussain’s Tera Pakistan hai yeh mera Pakistan hai. Both the songs impart nostalgia of the decade and rekindle the warmth of association we have with our country.

Pakistani folk singers did not remain behind the mainstream popular ones and, in fact, shattered all records with mega releases. Allan Fakir mellifluously sang Jamiluddin Aali’s poem Itnay baray jeevan sagar main and made the lyrics beautiful and captivating for eternity through his ecstatic style and devotional rhetoric. Alam Lohar, too, contributed his share by singing Aye dharti panj daryavan di using jhori (alghoza) and chimta, the two instruments characteristic to his distinct style.

Another name that comes to the mind on the mention of late ‘80s and early ‘90s is of Nayyara Noor owing to her classical voice that had the power of delighting the senses. WhileWatan ki mitti gawah rehna is, indeed, one of the most chanted compositions that received praise from all parts of the country, Jo naam wohi pehchaan also gained tremendous popularity.

Naheed Akhtar is pertinently mentioned alongside Nayyara Noor’s name because of comparable dedication and commitment. Her song Humara parcham yeh pyara parchamevokes the prestige and eminence of our Sabz Hilali flag and the need to stand untied under its shadow.

The highly extolled and spectacular duo of Nazia and Zohaib Hassan paid tribute to their homeland in their album ‘Hotline’ that was released in 1987. Dharti humari hai, asmaan humara hai once again glorifies the beauty with which Pakistan has been bestowed and insists on realising its worth.

The year 1987 is of paramount importance because of another remarkable name that emerged in Pakistan’s music industry. Late Junaid Jamshed, along with other members of Vital Signs, intonated Shoaib Mansoor’s composition on Rohail Hyatt’s music to gift the nation with Dil dil Pakistan. It instantly became, and is to date, a song that is never forgotten to be chanted after winning a match or while celebrating any success, making it Pakistan’s “pop national anthem”. Call it Mansoor’s pen, Hyatt’s symphony, Jamshed’s phonation, or the band’s collective appeal, but Dil dil Pakistanbagged unparalleled success, a vindication to which is it being voted the third most popular song of all time by BBC World.

Hum hain Pakistani, Tera karam maulaand Qasam uss waqt kiwere three other sensations by the dearly loved JJ, the first one becoming an anthem to boost the spirit of Pakistani sportsmen, especially cricketers. Many of us have our memories fresh with the clips of these songs being played on PTV back in 1990s when the ‘cable’ culture had not become too deep-rooted.

One particular masterwork is distinct from others, for it was produced by the maestro of all times himself, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Mera paigham Pakistan is one of the very few songs that have the ability of giving one cold shivers owing to its enchanting lyrics and enthralling melody. No other phrase and no other voice could have described the vision of Iqbal and resolve of Quaid-e-Azam better than “Nida Quaid ki hai, Iqbal ka ilham Pakistan”. This particular composition has the ability of melting the hearts of even those who have emigrated for their own good, as is demonstrated by Pakistani communities living abroad on every Independence Day.

Another crowd-puller was Junoon’s Haijazba junoon to himmat na haar, a sound track with the exact chords and notes that are required to trigger a new rush of patriotism in veins of Pakistanis. The number undoubtedly justified its classification under pop genre and simultaneously metamorphosed the parlance of national songs. The Azadi song from the movie Jinnah was another production of the band that also made its place in the realm and was successful in anchoring people’s sentiments owing to re-enactments of the tragic migration during Partition.

It was in late 90’s that Awaz emerged as a promising band with Haroon Rashid and Faakhir Mehmood as lead singers. Their joint venture gave us some extremely memorable songs, including Aye jawan. Their split towards the turn of the millennium, however, too resulted in filling our playlist with even more melodious songs, such as Tere bina dil na lagay by Faakhir and Dil se main ne dekha Pakistan by Haroon.

The onset of third millennium welcomed several new singers and, consequently, gave us many more tracks to treasure. Ahmed Jahanzeb’s Pakistan humari jaan, Atif Aslam and Strings’ collaboration presenting Ab khud kuch karna paray ga, Strings’ original Main to dekhon ga, Ali Zafar’s Urainge, and Jal’s Tu qadam barhaye ja are expressions of commitment to change the fate of Pakistan, put the country on the right track, and then breathe for once in the Pakistan that our forefathers actually dreamt of.

Pakistan’s legendary Sufi singer Abida Parveen lately launched her latest song Mulk-e-Khuda. It was labelled as her gift to the nation at the start of 2017 because of the transfixing beauty of the country that has been shown in the video to add colour to Abida Parveen’s soulful voice.

The latest rendition of our national anthem for Coke Studio 10 has, nonetheless, become a smash hit within no time. With contribution from forty singers and fusion of local and international music, the track has aptly managed to give goose pimples to the lovers of music.

Pakistan’s music industry, like Pakistan itself, has been travelling on the path of independence, transformation and flourishing for seventy years. Revival of the old patriotic spirit and sparking off of inexplicable valour is what has been delivered and is exactly what we need.


  1. Unknwon said:

    Though the writer has written quite eloquently and beautifully on the given topic but I expect a lot more from this very writer. The choice of the topic, I believe, is not suitable. Nevertheless, it is my opinion and the writer and readers may not agree with it. Newspaper is a very strong medium for educating the public. In a situation when there are more than hundred electronic news channels, strangled by the rating concept and chained by the corporatism, print media is the only source which somehow has the margin of showing people another side of the picture. Keeping in view the knowledge, unique way of looking at phenomena, talent, ability and writer’s strength of articulation on subtle issues and a little bit of margin that print media provides, energies should have been and could have been utilized on a better and more subtle issue. I might be wrong in perceiving everything regarding this write up.

  2. Anser Mahmood Chughtai said:

    It’s wonderful piece of writing and a tribute for all poets, composers and singers for their patriotic work on Pakistan’s seventieth birthday….

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