Wednesday October 04, 2023

‘Jalib’s poem Dastoor still applicable to our present constitution’

By Our Correspondent
December 03, 2022

KARACHI: Pakistan’s revolutionary poet Habib Jalib’s biggest contribution to our sociopolitical system is that he made those who make our constitution and laws aware of the public sentiment.

Although ‘Dastoor’ (constitution), arguably the most famous poem by Jalib, was written as reaction to the 1962 constitution, it was also applicable to the present constitution of the country.

Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER) founding member Karamat Ali made these remarks at the launch of Kulliyat-e-Jalib (complete collection of Jalib’s poetry) on the second day of the 15th International Urdu Conference at the Arts Council of Pakistan on Friday.

He said that after the 18th amendment, a section was included in the constitution which said that children between the ages of five and 15 would be given free education, but no government could implement it.

Had Jalib been alive, Ali said, he would have raised this issue. Currently, he added, more than 30 million children were out of school in Pakistan and 72 per cent children were malnourished.The speaker maintained that as he had been part of the Left politics in the country, he had found that the most clear-headed socialist was Jalib, who wanted equality for all human beings.

Jalib, he said, never compromised on his ideology and that was the reason he and his family had to suffer a lot. He could have made a lot of money, but he chose to spend his life strictly in accordance with his ideology, Ali added.

Speaking on the current political situation of the country, journalist and poet Mehmood Shaam said that had Jalib been alive he would have guided us through. When Jalib wrote Dastoor, he said, he was one of the few people who listened it from him. The country was under the shackles of a military dictator and there was silence of a graveyard at Lahore’s Mall Road coffee house where spies of then military government would keep an eye.

There was a green spot outside the coffee shop, which was known as a ‘liberated area’, where three to four people requested Jalib to recite Dastoor. He started and gradually increased his voice. As the voice increased, he said, it echoed in the entire country.

After that, Shaam recalled, that constitution formed by one person for himself was abolished by the public, but Jalib’s journey did not end there. “He did not want to change the government, but the society,” he stressed.

Poet Kishwar Naheed recalled that when Ayub Khan announced the elections and Fatima Jinnah decided to contest, the first person to support her was Jalib. She added that Jalib would sing ‘Dastoor’ and then the Madar-e-Millat would address her rallies.

Kishwar said that despite all his popularity, when Jalib himself formed a political party and contested polls, he garnered a little more than 700 votes.She said that when Jalib was incarcerated during Ayub’s era, he refused to come out of prison when his release order was issued as he demanded the release of his fellow prisoners.Jalib’s daughter Tahira Jalib also attended the session. She sang Dastoor which enthralled the audience.