Habib Jalib was born on March 24, 1928 as Habib Ahmad in a village near Hoshiarpur, British India. He migrated to Pakistan after partition and worked as a proofreader in Daily Imroze, Karachi. He was a progressive writer and soon started to grab the audience with his enthusiastic recitation of poetry. He wrote in plain language, adopted a simple style and addressed common people and issues. But the conviction behind his words, the music of his voice and his emotional energy coupled with the sensitivity of the socio-political context is what stirred the audience
He was a Marxist-Leninist and aspired to the ideals of Communism. He was a member of the Communist Party of Pakistan; later when the Communist Party was banned and started working under the banner of National Awami Party (NAP), Jalib joined the NAP. Due to his blunt expression of his beliefs, he suffered hard time all his life and spent most of time in Jail
Criticizing those who supported Ayub Khan’s regime, he wrote:
کہیں گیس کا دھواں ہے
کہیں گولیوں کی بارش ہے
شب عہد کم نگاہی
تجھے کس طرح سراہیں
Kahin gas ka dhuan hae
kahin golion ki baarish
tujhay kis tarah sarahein
There is smoke of teargas in the air
and the bullets are raining all around
How can I praise thee
the night of the period of shortsightedness..
A humble man with limited means of livelihood, Jalib could never reconcile with the dictatorship of Ayub Khan. So when Ayub enforced his tailor-made constitution in the country in 1962, which a former prime minister Chaudhry Muhammad Ali likened to the Clock Tower ofL yallpur, Jalib wrote the following poem:
دیپ جس کا محلات ہی میں جلے
چند لوگوں کی خوشیوں کو لے کر چلے
وہ جو سایےمیں ہر مصلحت کے پلے
ایسے دستور کو، صبح بےنور کو
میں نہیں مانتا،میں نہیں مانتا
Whose light shines only in palaces
And carries the joys of only a few people
That derives its strength from others’ weaknesses
That system, like a dawn without light
I refuse to acknowledge, I refuse to accept
ماں کے پائوں تلے جنت ہے ادھر آجائو
Maan kay paon talay jannat hai idhar aa jao
The paradise is under the feet of the mother. So come into her fold.
تو کہ ناواقفِ ادبِ غلامی ہے ابھی
رقص زنجیر پہن کر بھی کیا جاتا ہے
Tu kay nawaqif-e-aadab-e-ghulami hae abhi
Raqs zanjeer pehan kar bhi kiya jata hai.
You are not aware of the protocol of a king’s court. Sometimes one has to dance (before them) with the fetters on.