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Jalib, Habib (1928–1993)

Farooq Sulehria


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Known as the People's Poet, Habib Jalib signifies struggle for democracy, socialism, secularism, peace, and human and women's rights in Pakistan. Born in 1928 at Miani, an Afghan village in Hoshiarpur district, Punjab (now in India), Jalib witnessed extreme poverty as his father, a shoemaker, was hardly able to make ends meet. His parents, however, were ambitious regarding the education of their children. In 1943 the family moved to Delhi, which for centuries has been the political and cultural center of the Indian subcontinent. Young Jalib was greatly influenced by Delhi's literary atmosphere through his elder brother Mushtaq Mubarik. In Delhi Jalib's father managed to establish himself as a small trader, and the family experienced relative prosperity. This financial comfort proved shortlived, however, as the partition of India in 1947 forced his family to migrate to Karachi, ushering in another period of extreme poverty. At the age of 20 Jalib often frequented Mushairas (public poetry recitations) and soon established himself as a poet of some repute. In 1952 he became active in the peasant movement in Sindh province, led by charismatic peasant leader Comrade Haider Bux Jatoi, and joined the secular left-wing National Awami Party (NAP). Formed in the 1950s, the NAP absorbed members of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP), which was banned in 1954. For a brief period, Jalib ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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