The National Anthem

For the newly born sate of Pakistan, there were many challenges, and one of these was the necessity of having a national anthem. Upon independence, when the the flag was hoisted it was accompanied by the song, ” Pakistan Zindabad, Azadi Paendabad”. The flag itself had only been approved by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan three days earlier. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, wanted an anthem immediately on independence and at his own had asked a Lahore-based Hindu writer, Jagannath Azad on 9 August 1947 to write a national anthem for Pakistan in five days. The anthem written by Azad was quickly approved by Jinnah, and it was played on Radio Pakistan. This initial anthem remained as Pakistan’s national anthem for approximately eighteen months.

In 1948, A.R. Ghani from Transvaal, South Africa, offered two prizes of Rs. 5,000 each for the poet and composer of a new national anthem. The prizes were announced through a Government press note published in June 1948. In December 1948, a National Anthem Committee (NAC) was formed, initially chaired by the Information Secretary, Shaikh Muhammad Ikram. Committee members included several politicians, poets and musicians such as Abdur Rab Nishtar, Ahmed Ghualm Ali Chagla and Hafeez Jullandhuri. But nothing could be immediately finalized and when President Suekarno of Indonesia, the first foreign head of the state to visit Pakistan, visited Pakistan in 1950, Pakistan’s national anthem was not played. It was then that the National Anthem was composed (WITHOUT LYRICS) by musician Ahmed Ghulam Ali Chagla, which was played on March 30,1950 on the arrival of King of Iran Reza Shah Pehalvi. The first instrumental anthem was played by the Pakistan Navy band at PNS Dilawar under Warrant Officer Abdul Ghafoor. The anthem was also played during the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States. Although it was approved for playing during the visit of the Shah, official recognition was not given until January 5, 1954. In the meantime, however, Mr Ahmed Ghulam Ali Chagla had died in 1953, before he could see his tremendously appealing tune to have been accepted as the final anthem of Pakistan. His contribution to the national anthem was recognized by the government of Pakistan in 1996, when he was posthumously awarded the “President’s Pride of Performance award”, which was received by his son Abdul Khaliq Chagla on March 23, 1997.

After 7 years since independence, the search for proper lyrics for the national anthem, finally ended and the lyrics written by Abdul Hafeez Jalandhari were finally approved and became the official national anthem of Pakistan in 1954. The delay had occurred since the lyrics had to be superimposed on the music already composed by Mr Chagla in 1950. On 13 August 1954, Hafeez Jalandhari sang his own written National anthem on Radio Pakistan, which had 15 lines. Later the anthem was composed in the form of chorus, sung by Shameem Bano, Kaukab Jahan, Rasheeda Begum, Najam Ara, Naseema Shaheen, Ahmed Rushdie, Zawar Hussain, Akhtar Abbas, Ghulam Daastagir, Anwar Zaheer and Akhtar Wasi Ali. The entire anthem is for 80 seconds and some 38 instruments were used in its recording. The first colour film with flag and anthem was produced on January 19th, 1955 in USA.

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