Habib Jalib was a literary man, who belonged to a rare breed of men that listened to their conscience and were not willing to compromise on their principles. His honesty and commitment to what he believed in became his handicap, because it angered those for whom coming to power was a license to fame and wealth, not for serving the people, which is why he spent seven long years in prison.

Jalib believed in democracy, rule of law, women’s rights, and freedom with equal opportunities for all citizens, without any discrimination as to caste, creed, sex, faith, race, color or creed. In his vision it was obligatory for the state to protect and cater for the welfare of the most deprived section. He lived in an era, where men of means were willing to compromise in return for state assets or titles, but for him principles were never to be compromised and liberty and justice the birthright of all human beings, so he turned down all temptations for plots and rewards.

He served prison under Ayub Khan on fake charges of attempted murder for opposing his martial law and supporting Fatima Jinnah, while Zulfikar Ali Bhutto incarcerated him for ten months for vehemently opposing his military action in Balochistan. He opposed Yahya Khan’s dictatorial rule and debauchery and defiantly criticised Ziaul Haq. Although he supported Benazir Bhutto, when she returned to launch her campaign against Zia, but was disappointed by the compromises she made on coming into power. Habib Jalib will always be remembered for standing up to tyrannical rule and his revolutionary poetry. He shall live forever in the hearts of those who value freedom.

MALIK TARIQ ALI,

Lahore, March 13.