WHEN Pakistan came into being, the nation was in need of a national anthem. Out of 723 pieces of lyrical writing, a composition by Hafeez Jalandhari was selected in 1952.

The musical composition was rendered earlier in 1949 by Ahmed Ghulam Ali Chagla. To my knowledge, the National Anthem was finally adopted in 1954 — seven years after Pakistan’s inception.

For his rendering, Hafeez Jalandhari was awarded the “Pride of Performance” in 1958. Mr Chagla’s contribution was not acknowledged, for reasons best known.

In 1996, I happened to meet Abdul Khaliq Chagla, the only son of the late Ahmed Ghulam Ali Chagla.

He was on a visit to Pakistan from the United States.

Our family friendship went back decades. I enquired if his father’s musical rendering had been officially acknowledged. I was stunned to know that his efforts had not been rewarded even after 40 years.

I asked for Ahmed Chagla’s resume, and subsequently wrote a long official letter in March 1996 to then prime minister Benazir Bhutto, highlighting the injustice (I was then the defence minister of Pakistan).

My efforts bore fruit when it was announced on Aug 14, 1996, that Mr. Chagla had been posthumously awarded the “Pride of Performance”.

The credit for this recognition goes to Ms Bhutto.

On the subsequent Pakistan Day, Mr Abdul Khaliq Chagla was invited to visit Washington by our Ambassador to the US. He flew in from Houston on that day and received the award at a formal ceremony.

Every time one hears the national anthem, which is the symbol of our nation’s pride and unity, one is appreciative of the efforts of these two legends, whose names will live on forever.

Aftab Shahban Mirani


The writer is a former Chief Minister of Sindh and Defence Minister of Pakistan. At present he is an MNA.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2018



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