Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi was born as ‘Ahmad Shah Awan’ on November 20, 1916 to ‘Peer Ghulam Nabi Qasmi’,in the village ‘Anga’ of ‘Khushab’ District in British India (now in Pakistan). His family was a religious Peerzada family of ‘Qadri’ silsila. His great grandfather's name was ‘Peer Muhammad Qasim’, from whom the sir name of his family ‘Qasmi’ or ‘Peerzada’ has been inherited. He had one brother and a sister.

He did his matriculation from Campbellpur in 1931. He moved to the Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur and graduated in 1935 from the University of the Punjab, Lahore. Qasmi started his career as a government clerk, which he left to pursue journalism. He became active member of the ‘Progressive Writers Movement’. Realism and literary expression against exploitation in Qasmi’s writing gained him respect among his peers and in 1948 he was selected as the Secretary General for Punjab. In 1949 he was elected as the General Secretary of ‘Progressive Writers Movement’ for Pakistan. He held this position for six years. However, the Progressive Writers Movement was linked to the 1951 Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case, and he was detained for six months under the Safety Act for his association with the group in 1951.

In the late 1930s, Qasmi was editing reformist magazines such as ‘Phool’ and ‘Taleem-e-Niswan’. In the next two decades he edited renowned publications such as ‘Adab-e-Latif’ , ‘Sawera’ , ‘Nuqoosh’, and ‘Imroze’( a leading Urdu daily), which he left when Ayub Khan’s Progressive Papers Limited took over in 1959.

Qasmi’s writings in Imroze and later in the daily ‘Jang’ have been noted as progressive critiques on social and political issues. His journalistic writing was terse and often bold and he never compromised on the principles he held close to his heart. His ‘Imroze’ editorials opposing ‘Ayub Khan’s’ martial law landed him four months of incarceration in 1958-59.

Qasmi gradually distanced himself from the Progressive Writers Movement, probably because it became difficult for him, to work with some of the dogmatic communist members. He tried to steer the middle path, opposing the official orthodoxies on literature as well as the radicalism of some of his peers. There is no question that he remained a progressive writer all his life, however, he avoided the supremacy of ideology over creativity.

In 1962, Qasmi started his own journal ‘Funoon’. The friendship and support of Khadija Mastoor and Hajira Masroor and support of other writers like ‘Ahmed Faraz’, ‘Saqi Farooqi’, ‘Najib Ahmed’ and others linked to ‘Funoon’. Funoon groomed generations of new writers for almost half a century. The renowned Urdu writers ‘Amjad Islam Amjad’, ‘Ata ul Haq Qasmi’, ‘Munnoo Bhai’ and ‘Najib Ahmad’ proudly claim Qasmi’s patronage. Perhaps the most well-known of protege was ‘Parveen Shakir’, who considered Qasmi her mentor and called him ‘Ammu’ (Uncle). Her first bestseller, ‘Khushboo’, was dedicated to Qasmi.

Mansoora, the current editor of Funoon and winner of the Adamji award for literature is Qasmi’s adopted daughter. But Mansoora was more than a daughter; a soul mate and a protégé. She devoted her life to her father, who provided her answers for the meaning of life. Qasmi invested his life in people and yet all he gained were khotay sikkay (counterfeit coins), a reference to his group of associates and protégés. Qasmi was the proverbial candle of an infinitely wide literary circle; he attracted opportunists and genuine literati alike. This is what led to some criticism about the ‘company’ he kept. But, Qasmi and his generation had an open door policy that was based on the fundamentals of humanism. They were also forgiving by nature and accepting of all and simple in their worldly.

The tussle between Anwar Sadeed (critic) and Qasmi group is well known. Sadeed is said to have left no stone unturned to undermine Qasmi’s stature and literary merit. Similarly, another notable poet, Dr Wazir Agha, was a life-long rival of Qasmi. Muneer Niazi, another poet, recognised for his excellent poetry was also believed to be a ‘rival’ of sorts.

Qasmi’s early short stories such as “Hiroshima Say Pehle, Hiroshima Kay Baad” narrated the devastating effects of the Hiroshima bombing on a small Punjabi village which fed recruits to the British army. His other stories “Lawrence of Thalaibia” and “Rais Khana” attacked feudal lords for their relentless exploitation of peasants. Exposure to the grim realities of rural India’s inequities also played their part in his development as a writer.

Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi had a mastery over poetry. He has been equally prolific in traditional Ghazal and Nazm as well as Prose, as a short story writer, journalist and literary critic. He has contributed over 50 books. Qasmi’s Urdu ‘Afsana’ (short stories) work is considered by some as second only to ‘Munshi Prem Chand’ in its masterful depiction of rural culture. He also wrote many English poems and short stories. His poem ‘The Feed’ is included in the syllabus of intermediate classes in Pakistan.

In 1974, he was appointed Secretary-General of ‘Majlis-Taraqi-e-Adab’, a Board of Advancement of Literature established by the government of West Pakistan. Qasmi worked in that position till his last.

Qasmi died on the July 10, 2006 of complications from asthma at Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Lahore. He is survived by a daughter Dr. Naheed Qasmi and a son Nauman Qasmi.He had another daughter named Nishat Qasmi,who died in his own life.

His Urdu Short stories


‘Masi Gul Bano’


‘Kapas Ka Phool’


‘Begum Ki Billi’

‘Bad Naseeb But Tarash’




‘Ghar Se Ghar Tak’

His Poetry collection





“Pride of Performance” - 1968.

“Sitara-e-Imtiaz” - 1980, for literature.

“Pakistan Academy of Letters’ lifetime achievement award”


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