He is remembered as ‘Shayir-e-Awam’ (people’s poet) and Shayir-e-Inqilab (poet of revolution) due to the rebellious nature of his poetry.
He migrated to Pakistan after the partition of India and worked as a proofreader for Daily Imroze Karachi afterwards the great poet also had to work in a textile mill.
Jalib was a progressive writer and soon started to grab the audience with his enthusiastic recitation of poetry.
The peoples’ poet wrote in plain language, adopted a simple style and addressed common people and issues.
He made Lahore his home in 1956 and published his first collection of poetry in 1957 titled ‘Burg-e-Wafa’. The two military regimes of Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan saw the revolutionary poet go through a number of hardships and was even jailed for his uncompromising attitude.
During his days in the penitentiary he wrote a bunch of couplets with the name of ‘Sar-e-Maqtal’ which were confiscated by the government. The act did not dampen his spirits and he continued to write revolutionary sort of poetry.
Most of his well received work was written between 1960 to 1970 and he kept on taking the military regimes to task.
Ayub regime passed the country’s first constitution in 1962 Jalib came up with the rebellious
یسے دستورکو، صبح بےنورکو
میں نہیں مانتا، میں نہیں مانتا
The poem was so much appreciated by Pakistan’s powerless masses that till today, the poem is being recited by all and sundry during political movements and rallies.
When the Yahya regime did not transfer power to majority party ‘Awami League’, the revolutionary poet predicted the resulting bloodshed which resulted in Dacca fall.
محبت گولیوں سے بورہے ہو
وطن کا چہرہ خون سے دھورہے ہو
گماں تم کو کہ رستہ کٹ رہا ہے
یقین مجھ کو کہ منزل کھو رہے ہو
On 23 March 2009, President of Pakistan has given the highest civil award (posthumously) to the legendary poet, which was received by his daughter.
PPP rose to power and Bhutto put a lot of his supporters in jail in Hyderabad conspiracy case, Jalib even did not spare him and wrote
قصر شاہی سے یہ حکم صادر ہوا
لاڑکانے چلو، ورنہ تھانے چلو
Bhutto’s fall saw the rise of another dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq. The one who is still remembered as the worst dictator Pakistan ever saw.
Jalib wrote a satirical poem for his autocratic rule.
Which goes like this,
ظلمت کو ضیاء صرصرکوصبا
بندے کوخدا کیا لکھنا
As a democratic government came into existence in Pakistan after Zia-ul-Haq’s death and the corrupt practices resulted in exploitation of the masses by capitalists and political goons,
Jalib had to say,
وہی حالات ہیں فقیروں کے
دن پھریں ہیں فقط وزیروں کے
ہربلاول ہے دیس کا مقروض
پاؤں ننگے ہیں بے نظیروں کے
Laal band recorded his famous satirical poem “Zulmat ko Zia ” and included it in their 2009 album Umeed-e-Sahar besides remixing his own recitation of ‘Dastoor’
Habib Jalibs’s son Nasir Jalib wrote a book on his legendry father’s life by the name of ‘Ruadad-e-Wafa’. The book was launched on January 24, 2014.
His published work include Barg-e-Awara, Sirat-e-Mustaqeem, Zikr Behtey Khoon Ka, Gunbad-e-Bedar, Is Shehr-e-Kharabi me, Goshay me Qafas ke, Harf-e-Haq, Harf-e-Sardar, Ehad-e-Sitam and Kulliyat-e-Habib Jalib.
Jalib departed on March 12, 1993 leaving his fans and the revolutionary youth with his memories.