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Did you know Pakistan had another national anthem written by Jagannath Azad, before it was rejected for ‘Qaumi Tarana’

Despite the fact that Jagan Nath Azad wrote Pakistan's first national anthem, it was only sung for six months following Jinnah's death 1948.

Not many people are aware of the fact that Pakistan had a national anthem prior to the Qaumi Tarana and it was the first anthem that was aired on the radio after the formation of Pakistan on August 14, 1947. The first national Anthem of Pakistan was Tarana-e-Pakistan, written by one Jagannath Azad, a prominent Urdu poet born in 1918 in Punjab’s Mianwali (present-day Pakistan).

This lesser-known fact created controversy both in Pakistan and India when it was disclosed after the death of Azad in 2004. Journalist Luv Puri was informed by Jagannath Azad just a few days before he passed away in 2004 that he had written Pakistan’s first national anthem. During the time of independence, according to the interview that was published in The Milli Gazette’s issue of 16–31 August 2004, Jagannath Azad was in Lahore during the partition and did not want to leave. His Muslim friends counselled him to remain in Pakistan rather than move to India.

Talking to Puri, Azad said that on August 9, 1947, a member of the Radio Pakistan staff from the Lahore station gave him a message from Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the country’s first Governor-General, was asking Azad to write the anthem for Pakistan. In the interview, Jagannath Azad revealed that he penned the anthem in five days and that Jinnah accepted it within a few hours.

The song written by Azad.

Later, when the law and order situation deteriorated, his friends persuaded him to flee to India, and he did so. “Meanwhile the situation in both east and west Punjab was becoming worse with every passing day and the same set of friends told me in September 1947 that even they would not be able to provide protection to me and that it would be better for me to migrate to India. I decided to migrate to this side.”

The anthem written by Azad continued to be sung for more than a year until the death of Jinnah, after which it was discarded by the leadership of Pakistan. “The song written by me continued to be the national anthem for one and a half years,” Azad told Puri. Azad had to leave Pakistan and move to India as it became difficult for Hindus to survive in the country.

Jagannath Azad was born in 1918 in Punjab’s Mianwali (present-day Pakistan). His father Tilok Chand was a famous Urdu poet. Azad secured several posts in various Urdu publications after he shifted to India. He served as Information Officer in various ministries of the Government of India from 1955 to 1977. Post-retirement from service, he became a professor at the University of Jammu’s Urdu department.

CHINAR SHADE : A NEW BOOK ON URDU POET JAGAN NATH AZAD
Azad with Jawaharlal Nehru.

Despite the fact that Jagannath Azad wrote Pakistan’s first national anthem, it was only sung for six months following Jinnah’s passing in September 1948. The National Anthem Committee (NAC), which was established in December 1948, took two years to finalise a new anthem. In 1950, a poem by NAC member Hafeez Jallandri was chosen from 723 submissions.

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