What are the lyrics to Pakistan’s national anthem?

10 November 2022, 15:34

Members of the Pakistan cricket team sing their national anthem.
Members of the Pakistan cricket team sing their national anthem. Picture: Getty

By Siena Linton

‘Pāk Sarzamīn’, which translates to ‘Thy Sacred Land’ in English, became Pakistan’s official national anthem in 1954 after the country gained independence in 1947.

Pakistan as it exists today is one of the world’s youngest, yet most populous countries. Situated in South Asia and bordering India, Afghanistan, Iran and China, the land on which Pakistan sits as a modern state has a rich history and culture dating back at least eight and a half thousand years.

From 1858, Pakistan was part of the British Indian Empire, gaining independence in 1947 after the Pakistan Movement campaigned for a home for Muslims in British India. An official constitution followed in 1956, and in 1971 Bangladesh emerged as a new country from what had been East Pakistan.

Soon after Pakistan’s newfound independence, a search was launched for a piece of music to become the new country’s national anthem. The successful lyricist and composer would receive 5,000 rupees each, according to an ad published in June 1948.

Presumably, however, the search was unsuccessful, as in December of that year the National Anthem Committee (NAC) was set up by the Pakistani government, and tasked with the creation of an original national anthem.

Read more: New Zealand national anthem: what are the lyrics and who wrote ‘God Defend New Zealand’?

Progress was slow, and by the time of the Indonesian President’s state visit to Pakistan in January 1950, the country remained without a national anthem. The government urged the NAC to procure a national anthem in time for the Shah of Iran’s visit later that year.

After a search far and wide, the NAC picked out a melody written by composer Ahmed G. Chagla, which was accepted on 21 August 1950 as the tune to Pakistan’s official national anthem.

For some time, the anthem was used in an instrumental version until suitable words could be found. The NAC sent recordings to some of the most prominent Pakistani poets, as a call-out for the anthem’s lyrics.

Several hundred songs were received in return, and the words of Hafeez Jalandhari were ultimately selected. The national anthem was broadcast with both words and music for the first time on 13 August 1954, on Radio Pakistan, sung by the lyricist himself.

Read more: What are the lyrics to the hymn ‘Jerusalem’, and is it England’s national anthem?

School children sing Pakistan’s national anthem in a rehearsal ahead of Independence Day.
School children sing Pakistan’s national anthem in a rehearsal ahead of Independence Day. Picture: Alamy

What are the lyrics?

Hafeez Jalandhari wrote his lyrics in Urdu – the official language of Pakistan – but used words that are shared in the Persian language too, so that speakers of both languages are able to understand the anthem.

The lyrics in (Roman) Urdu, and their English translation are as follows:

Paak sar zameen shaad baad
Kishwari haseen shaad baad
Too nishaani azmi aalee shaan
Arzi Paakistaan!
Markazi yaqeen shaad baad

Paak sar zameen kaa nizaam
Quwwati ukhuwwati awaam
Qaum, Mulk, Saltanat
Paayindah taabindah baad!
Shaad baad manzili muraad

Parcami sitaarah o hilaal
Rahbari taraqqee o kamaal
Tarjumaani maazee shaani haal
Jaani istaqbaal!
Saayahyi Khudaayi Zoo al-jalaal

English translation

Blessed be the sacred land,
Happy be the bounteous realm.
Thou symbol of high resolve,
O Land of Pakistan!
Blessed be the citadel of faith.

The order of this sacred land,
The might of the brotherhood of the people,
May the nation, the country, and the state,
Shine in glory everlasting!
Blessed be the goal of our ambition.

The flag of the crescent and star,
Leads the way to progress and perfection,
Interpreter of our past, glory of our present,
inspiration for our future!
Shade of God, the Glorious and Mighty.