Thursday, May 21, 2009

The National Anthem of Pakistan

"Pak Sarzamin Shad Bad" or "Blessed be the Sacred Land" is Pakistan's National Anthem. A committee to select a national anthem for Pakistan was formed a year after independence in December 1948. A member of the committee, Ahmed Ghulamali Chagla, was asked to produce a composition. Mr. Chagla's background in music involves study in both western and eastern music, and characteristics of eastern music can be found in the anthem.

After some "test runs" which included performances for the Prime Minister, for a visiting head of state, for the Prime Minister's visit to the United States, and finally for the committee itself. It was then approved by the anthem committee in August 1950 and gained official recognition in December 1953. The words were composed by another member of the committee, Abu-Al-Asar Hafeez Jullandhuri, and officially approved in August 1954.


Ahmed Ghulamali Chagla was the musician who wrote the score for the national anthem of Pakistan in 1950. He was born in May 1902 into a prominent Karachi family. His father, Ghulamali Chagla was the third elected president of the municipality of Karachi, serving from 1921 to 1922. Ahmad Chagla attended the Sindh Madrassat-ul-Islam in Karachi and took lessons in classical Indian music in 1910 and western musical composition in 1914.

In 1948, Chagla was a member of the National Anthem Committee (NAC) of Pakistan, which had the task of creating a new national anthem to replace the earlier one written by Jagannath Azad. The impending state visit to Pakistan by the Shah of Iran in 1950, created an impetus for a national anthem to be ready with or without lyrics. The NAC examined several different tunes and selected a tune presented by Chagla which was submitted it for formal approval. Chagla then produced the musical composition in collaboration with another committee member and assisted by the Pakistan Navy band.

Unfortunately Chagla died in 1953, before the national anthem was officially adopted in 1954. His contribution to the national anthem was recognised by the government of Pakistan in 1996, when he was posthumously awarded the "President's Pride of Performance award", which was presented to his family on March 23, 1997.

Chagla was also an author, journalist, and writer, with most of his articles written prior to the partition of India in 1947. His works included a series of articles on classical Urdu poets such as Mirza Ghalib and Allama Iqbal and an article on the Sindhi poet Shah Abdul Latif, which appeared in the Illustrated Weekly of India in December 1937. He also composed music for a number of Urdu, Gujarati, Sindhi and English plays, and composed music on eastern and western instruments for various films.