Pakistan’s enlightened poet, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi remembered on 14th death anniversary

When one thinks of Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, you don’t just think of the journalist. You remember can’t help but remember the man who wrote plays and novels even though his one true love was poetry.

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Today (July 10), on his 14th death anniversary we remember him and his work.

Born on November 20, 1916 in a village near district Khushab in Pir Ghulam Nabi’s house, Qasmi’s birth name was Ahmed Shah. He received his early education at a government school in Campbellpur and completed his matriculation from a government high school in Sheikhupura in 1931.

Four years later, he earned his BA from the Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur. It was around this time that Qasmi wrote his first poem, after the death of Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar. It was published in Roznama Siyasat Lahore.

Qasmi’s early life had been quite difficult. After finishing college, he went to Lahore. This is where he met Akhtar Shirani, a poet, who encouraged him to write. The two remained great friends till the end. While studying in Lahore, Ahmad was an active member of the Progressive Writers Movement in the 1930s. He held the position of secretary and was arrested several times in the 1950s and 1970s.

During this time, Qasmi started working for the children’s magazine ‘Phool’.

Qasmi made a name for himself at a time when it was difficult to do so. His contemporaries were Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai, Krishan Chandra and Ghulam Abbas. He edited many journals, including Tehzeeb-i-Niswaan, Adab-i-Lateef, Savera, Naqoosh and his own brainchild Fanoon. He also served as the editor of the Urdu daily Imroze.

His poem ‘Na Mohabbat Na Sabahat’ was beautifully sung by Rubina Badr. You can read more about his work here.

Besides nazms, Qasmi was interested in ghazals as well. He even wrote a naat.

Here are some of his couplets.

ġham-e-zamāna ne majbūr kar diyā varna

ye aarzū thī ki bas terī aarzū karte

kāñToñ se dil lagāo jo tā-umr saath deñ

phūloñ kā kyā jo saañs kī garmī na sah sakeñ

Based on his work, PTV ran a series called ‘Qasmi Kahani’. The series was directed by Ayub Khawar. He also wrote drama serials such as ‘Ghar se Ghar tak’ and ‘Permesher Singh’ for PTV.

Qasmi was a known figure across the border in Bollywood. Poet and lyricist Gulzar, thought of Qasmi as his teacher and wrote a poem dedicated to him. His short stories Alaan and Baba Noor were adapted into serials by Gulzar and starred actor Om Puri.

Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi passed away on July 10, 2006, at the age of 90 in Lahore. He was awarded the President’s Pride of Performance in 1968 and Pakistan’s highest civil honour, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, for literature.

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