About three months after the demise of Quaid-e Azam, the need for a National Anthem started to be felt. In December 1948, a National Anthem Committee(NAC) was formed which was chaired by a bueaurocrat Sheikh Mohammed Ikram. It had included some politicians but prominently there were three members—Ahmed Ghulamali Chagla, Hafeez Jallundhari and Abdur Rab Nishtar. The committee never reached on any consensus until early 1950s.
(What makes me scratch my head is that if we presume for a minute that Azad’s anthem wasn’t the correct claim, why then did it not occur to Quaid e Azam to ask for a National Anthem in his lifetime. Why did it have to be left to the ‘visionaries’ only after his demise, to form a National Anthem Committee. Or probably I scratch my scalp because I itch for no valid reason).
In 1950, to be exact on March 1, the Shah of Iran was to visit Pakistan— and a panic rushed along the corridors of the government to come up with ‘some’ music to be played on his arrival. The NAC was asked to ‘urgently’ come up with an anthem in a few days. It wasn’t entirely unjustified as they had been sitting and bickering on the committee for over 15 months with no concrete results likely even in the foreseeable future.
The chairman of the Committee then, Fazlur Rehman, the Federal Minister of Education acted very ‘democratically’ and sent invitations to numerous poets and musicians for their entries. Several entries did come in, but the NAC members found them all ‘unsuitable’.
Then true to the spirit of “necessity being the mother of invention”, the NAC agreed on a piece of composition by Chagla as suitable and presented it for formal approval. Hence Chagla assisted by the Pakistan Navy Band gave his written music notes a sound. Even till then there was only a ‘tune’ and the ‘words ‘were missing.
The music, much to the relief of the government, was played on the arrival of Shah Of Iran.
(Clever of them. As if the Iranian Monarch would have understood the lyrics in Urdu anyways. I probably would have done the same in their place!).
Again the same instrumental national anthem was played for Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan when he paid a state visit to the United States in May 1950, apparently after being persuaded to snap ties with the Soviet Union and set the course of Pakistan’s foreign policy towards closer ties with the West. (But that’s besides the point at the moment. I shouldn’t be talking of irrelevant issues here, right? )
Of course when Iranians didn’t get the missing lyrics how would Americans—so they too were presented just the instrumental anthem. The Musical Composition took a deep sigh of relief when in August 1950 it became the legitimate “composition’ of Pakistan National Anthem after being officially approved.
But the music composition had to live with the ‘single status’ without it’s beloved lyrics until 1954 when the lyrics by Hafeez Jallundhury and the music by Ahmed Ghulamali Chagla were finally wedded together to live happily ever after…
The National Anthem which we know now as “Pak Sar Zameen Shadbaad” was first officially played on Radio Pakistan on 13 August 1954, almost seven years after the birth of Pakistan. Official approval was announced by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on August 16, 1954.
Tragically the composer Chagla had, however, died in 1953, before the new national anthem was officially adopted. He did not live long enough to see who his baby ‘music composition’ chose as it’s beloved ‘lyrics’.
In 1955, a chorus of 15 singers from Pakistan under the lead of Ahmed Rushdi recorded the National Anthem, to be officially played for Pakistan.
Indeed, all’s well that ends well.
16 October 2009.