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Habib Jalib’s Immortal Words Against Censorship Remain Relevant Today

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As alternative and critical voices face censorship in Pakistan, one is reminded of Pakistan’s history of muzzling dissent. In these challenging times when space for critical expression is rapidly shrinking, revolutionary poet Habib Jalib’s poetry remains a source of inspiration for those resisting the clampdown on freedom of speech.

Considering how difference of opinion and dissent is dealt with abuse and intimidation, the following poem by Jalib remains just as relevant today.

Aur sab bhool gaye harf-e-sadāaqat likhnā

Reh gayā kaam hamārā hee baġhāavat likhnā

Laakh kehtay raheiñ zulmat ko na zulmat likhnā

Hum ne seekhā nahīñ pyāray ba-ijaāzat likhnā

Na silay ki, na satā.ish kī tamannā hum ko

Haq meiñ logoñ ke humārī tou hai aadat likhnā

Hum ne jo bhool ke bhi Shah kā qaseeda na likhā

Shāyad aayā isī ḳhoobi ki badaulat likhnā

Iss se barh kar meri tehseen bhala kya hogi

Parh ke na-ḳhush hain mera sahab-e-sarvat likhnā

Sahr ke ġham se hua rabt tou hum bhool gaye

Sarv qāmat ko javaani ko qayāmat likhnā

Kuch bhi kehtay hain, kehein Shah ke masaahib Jalib

Rang rakhna yehi apna, issi soorat likhna

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