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Editor's Note



Born in Kohat in 1931, Ahmad Faraz initially wanted to join the Pakistan Air Force.  When he was in grade ten, one of his school mates inspired him to write poetry. His father, Agha Burq who was also a poet, used to arrange literary meetings, which Faraz was sometimes allowed to attend. He received a masters degrees in Persian and Urdu literature from the University of Peshawar.

His first collection of poems, "Tanha Tanha" (Alone, Alone) appeared in 1958 while he was a student and became well known among poets and critics. In 1966, his second book, "Dard Ashoob" made him well known to those who were working for a progressive socio-economic system. He also wrote plays for Radio Pakistan and PTV. These were published in 1972 under the title "Mere Khawab Reza Reza".

He worked as a staff writer and programme producer for Radio Pakistan in Karachi and Peshawar for ten years. After that he joined Peshawar University as an assistant professor of Urdu language and literature. He served at he Pakistan National Centre in 1971 as a director and later became the project director of the Pakistan Academy of Letters in 1989. In 1990, he was appointed as the Director General Lok Virsa (Pakistan Institute of Folk Heritage).

His works include ten volumes of poems and a collection of plays in addition to articles and interviews published both nationally and internationally. Other collections of his works include “Janaan Janaan” (1976), “Be Awaz Gali Koochoon Mein” (1982), “Nabeena Shehr Mein Aaina” (1984), “Sab Awazeen Meri Hain” (1985), “Pas Andaz Mosam” (1989), “Bodluk” (a play in verse, 1994), and “Peman”. His works were published in four volumes by the University of Acain, U.A.E in 1987 with the title of Assasa.

A poet of conscience, Faraz wrote against the military dictatorship in 1977 and had to go under hardships including a long exile. He remained in exile for six years, and met writers and intellectuals from different parts of the world.

He has received many national and international awards. He won the Adamjee Award in 1966. His third collection of poems, "Nayaft", (Unattainable) was declared the best book of the year in 1970. He received the Dhanak Award for the most popular national poet in 1972. Also in Pakistan, he has won the Abasin Award for literature, the J.N. Tata Award for Peace and Human Rights, and the Naqoosh Award for Literature (1992-1993). The international awards he has won include the Firaq Award (India, 1982) and the International Urdu Award (Canada, 1991).

Ahmed Faraz is a modern poet but his style is semi-classical. His custom of blending classic work with neo-romanticism has made him well known among the younger generation. His works have been included in the syllabus of Aligarh University and the University of Peshawar. His poetry has been translated into many languages including English, Russian, Chinese, Macedonian, Swedish, Dutch, Hindi, and French.


Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi was born on November 20, 1916 in the small village of Anga, District Khushab, in Punjab. He started taking lessons in the Holy Quran, when he was only four years old. After the death of his father in 1923 his uncles became his guardians. After completing his primary education in Anga, he matriculated from Cambellpur in 1931. It was during those days that he wrote his first poem, “An Elegy for Muhammad Ali Jauhar”. He completed his B.A. from Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur (1935).

After graduation, he held various jobs until he went to Lahore where he edited the weekly Adab-e-Latif, Sawera, Naqoosh, Imroze, Fanoon, Saheefa, and Iqbal Magazine. He was also an organizer of Majlis-e- Taraqqi Adab, Lahore. He has also worked as a script writer for Peshawar Radio. From 1948 to 1949 he worked as general secretary for the Anjuman-e-Taraqqi Pasand Musanifeen, Punjab, and from 1949 to 1954 as the general secretary of the Anjuman-e- Taraqqi Pasand Musanifeen of Pakistan respectively. Meanwhile, he was detained under the Safety Act from May to November 1951 and again from October 1958 to February 1959.

He has written many books of poetry, short stories, and literary criticism. These include Rim Jhim, Jalal-o-Jamal, Sholai Gul, Dasht-e-Wafa, Muheet, Dawam, and Lohe Khak (poetry); Chopal, Bagolay, Talloo-o-Gharoob, Gardab, Sailab, Anchal, and Ablay (short stories).

His poetry is a synthesis of tradition and modernism. In his short stories, he portrays the degradation of life but with a touch of romance. His fiction, aims at social reformation. He received the Pride of Performance Medal in 1968 and Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 1980.

FAIZ AHMAD FAIZ (1911-1984)

The most worthy Pakistani poet of the twentieth century after Iqbal, Faiz Ahmad Faiz was born on February 13, 1911, in Sialkot to barrister Sultan Mohammed Khan. From a comfortable Muslim middle class family, he was raised according to the teachings of Islam and memorized the Holy Quran. After that he was educated at Scotch Mission High School, Sialkot. He did his BA (Hon’s.) in Arabic (1931) and an MA (English, 1933) from Government College Lahore. In 1934, he obtained a master's degree in Arabic from Oriental College Lahore, and the following year worked as a lecturer in English for a short time in M.A.O. College, Amritsar. He published his first collection of poems, Naqsh-e-Faryadi, in 1941. From June 1942 to December 1946, he joined the Indian Army and served in the information service and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After resigning from the army, Faiz worked as the editor of English daily The Pakistan Times.

He served as vice president of the Trade Union Congress and twice represented Pakistan at I.L.O. He was also the secretary of the Pakistan Peace Committee. In March 1951, Faiz was charged with conspiring against the government in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case, for which he spent four years in jail, including several months in solitary confinement. The charges against him were never proved. While he was in jail in 1952, his second volume of poetry, “Dast-e-Saba”, was published. After his release, he published his third book, “Zindan Nama” in 1956. He again took up journalism and was one of the founders of the Afro-Asian Writers Association in 1958. In December 1958, he was again arrested. The duration of this second imprisonment was short, and he was released in April 1959.

Faiz was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize in 1962. He lived in England from 1962 to 1964. After his return to Pakistan, he served as principal of Haji Abdullah Haroon College in Karachi and as vice-president of the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi. Faiz published his fourth volume of poetry, “Dast-e-Tah-e-Sang”, in 1965, followed by “Sar-e-waadii-e-Sina” (1971). In 1971 he accepted the post of cultural adviser to the government of Pakistan. He was appointed as the chairman of the Pakistan National Council of Arts in 1972.

In 1976, he was awarded the Lotus Prize of the Afro-Asian Writers Association. His “Shaam-e-Shar-e-yaran” was published in 1978. Faiz lived in Beirut from 1978 until 1982, editing the quarterly Lotus, published by the Afro-Asian Writers Association. His seventh volume of poetry, “Mere Dil Mere Musafir”, was published in 1981. The collection of his poems entitled “Saarey Sukhan Hamare”, was published in London in 1982, and a different edition of his collected poems, “Nuskha Haaye Wafa”, was published in Lahore in 1984. Love and revolution are the principle themes of Faiz's writing in prose and verse. He has blended classical modes of verse with modern techniques.

Besides, Urdu poetry, Faiz also published three volumes of writings dealing with literary and cultural issues. An Urdu translation of letters written from jail to his wife, Alys Faiz, was published in 1971. He also wrote in Punjabi. His poetry has been translated into many languages including Arabic, French, Russian, Persian, Hindi, Japanese, Hungarian and English. Faiz returned to Lahore in November 1983 and died on November 20, 1984.


Muhammad Hafeez was born to Hafiz Shams-ud-Din on 14 January 1900 in Jullunder. At the age of six he was admitted to a mosque to study the Quran. He was sent to Mission High School in 1907 and then joined Government High School Jullunder. He quit after failing seventh grade. During his student days, he was inclined towards composing poems but his family did not approve, so he left home and joined the railway department as a timekeeper. In 1916 he opened a perfumery shop in Jullunder, which was a failure, as was the magazine Ijaz, which he had started. In 1920 he landed a job with the Singer Company and went to Okara. In 1922 he left that job and joined the magazine Shabab-i-Urdu as an assistant editor. Later, he became the chief editor of the magazines Naunihal and Hazar Dastan. In 1924 he travelled through Kashmir on foot. He also worked as an editor of the magazine Makhzan. In 1937 he left for England with Sir Abdul Qadir. After returning from England he joined All India Radio as director publicity.

In 1947 he migrated to Pakistan and was appointed as publicity officer in Dhaka. In 1958, he visited Russia, Iran and Afghanistan. Later he was appointed as a morale officer in the Pakistan army, a post from which he retired in 1966. He lived in Model Town in Lahore until his death in 1982. Naghma-e-Zar, Soz-o-Saz, Salam, Raqasa, Omar-o-Ayar, Talkhaba-e-Shireen and Shah Nama-e-Islam are his famous publications.

Hafeez Jallandhari established himself in three forms of Urdu poetry; nazm, ghazal and geet. His works show deep political, economic and social awareness. He was influenced by Allama Iqbal, which is evident from the style and subjects he chose. Shah Nama is a long octet poem which depicts the history of the Muslims and their past glory and achievements, it is in four volumes. Most of his poetry consists of ghazals, which are simple but moving. His poems reflect freshness, youthfulness, pleasure and happiness. His use of Hindi words lent subtlety and beauty to his poems. He composed Pakistan's national anthem, which was selected out of 700 entries. He was awarded the Hilal-i-Imtiaz by the government of Pakistan.

JOSH MALIABADI (1898-1982)

Shabbir Hasan Khan, Josh Maliabadi was born in Kanuhar (Malihabad) in 1898. His ancestors were chiefs of the Afridi Ali Khel tribe in the khyber pass. His great-great-grandfather Muhammad Buland Khan migrated to U.P. and settled at Qaim Ganj (Farrukhabad). His great-grandfather Nawab Faqir Muhammad Goya was a teacher, while both his father, Bashir Ahmad Khan, and grandfather Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan, were poets. He started reciting verses at the age of nine. He did his Senior Cambridge from St. Peters College, Agra, and then went to Shantinikitan, Rabindranath Tagore's famous institution, where he studied for six months.

Josh grew up in an age of awakening of the Muslims of the subcontinent and was influenced by freedom fighters such as Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar and Allama Iqbal and by men of letters such as Sharar, Shibli, Dagh, Hali and others. Josh was inclined towards the concept of wahdat-ul-wajood, the oneness of God. His first collection of poetry, Rooh-i-Adab, was published in 1903 and contained religious and spiritual poems. Later, however, he became the poet of revolution and love. He wrote many books such as “Maqalat-i-Zarrin” (1921), “Naqsh-o-Nigar” (1936), “Harf-o-Hikayat” (1938), “Ayat-o-Naghmat” (1941), and “Arsh-o-Farsh” (1944). He came to Pakistan in 1958. He wrote six more books after coming to Pakistan. The last book he wrote, “Mehrab-o-Mizrobe”, appeared in 1993.

Josh's poetry exhibited a rich vocabulary and strong words and images. He preferred the form of the nazm to the ghazal. Although there are a few ghazals in his first collection, he later adopted the nazm. His version of the nazm resembles the ghazal, with linked couplets as in a ghazal. But he made his own style which differed from the traditional one. In that sense he was rebellious, and this attitude led him to write some acrimonious poems, which resulted in his removal from the Urdu Development Board. He was re-employed by the government of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In addition to his poetry, he also wrote his autobiography "Yadon ki Barat" which is a master piece of urdu prose. He died in 1982.

A revolutionary romantist, Josh Malihabadi was awarded the title of Shair-i-Inquilab.


Kishwar Naheed was born on 3 February 1940 in Buland Shehar, UP (India). She finished her Quranic education at the age of five. After her matriculation from Sardar Muhammad Girls High School in Lahore in 1959, she did her master's in economics from Punjab University.At an early age she was exposed to the Freedom Movement; her father, Syed Ibn-i-Hassan, was an active member of the Muslim League and was detained for his political activities. Her interest in poetry arose early in life, when she used to attend Mushairas with her mother.

Kishwar Naheed started her career at an early age by editing the children's page of Pakistan Times under the supervision of Alys Faiz. In 1961, she joined as assistant editor of monthly Dost. Later, she served as public relations officer for the Lahore Division Council (1964-67) and worked as a feature writer for the government's Department of Films and Publications (1967-72). In 1971 she was appointed as Resident Director of the Pakistan National Centre in Lahore, and now she heads the Pakistan National Council of the Arts in Islamabad.

Kishwar began writing Urdu poetry as a student and has continued ever since. She is a distinguished poet who has won the Adamjee Literary Prize for “Labi-i-Goya” (1969) and a Unesco prize for "Dais Dais Ki Kahanian”, a book of short stories for children. In an effort to promote literary awareness, she sponsored a literary programme for PTV known as "Mulaqat" and a radio programme called “Nai Subah”. Kishwar Naheed was married to Yousaf Kamran and has two sons.


Munir Ahmad, better known as Munir Niazi, was born in Khanpur in 1928, a village near Hushiyarpur. The natural beauty of the area, with gardens, high mountains, mosques and classical temples, provided a picturesque setting for his poetry. He was initially educated at Khanpur and after independence settled in Sahiwal, he passed his matriculation there. He earned the intermediate degree from S.E. College, Bahawalpur and a B.A. from Diyal Singh College, Lahore.

Munir Niazi launched a weekly, Saat Rang, from Sahiwal in 1949 and was also associated with the film industry and wrote numerous songs for films. He also wrote for newspapers, magazines and radio. In 1960 he established a publication institute, Al-Misal. Presently he is associated with Lahore Television and lives in Lahore.

“Taiz Hawa Aur Tanha Phool”, “Jungle mein Dhanak”, “Dushmanoon Kai Darmiyan Sham” and “Mah-e-Munir” are his popular Urdu publications. In Punjabi he has published “Safar di Raat”, “Char Chup Cheezan” and “Rasta Dasan Walay Tarey”.

His effective imagery conveys pictures in few words. He has experimented with poetic forms and has tried to create a new style, rhythm and diction in urdu poetry. Innocence, mythology, nostalgia, dreams, eroticism, and romance are some of his most common themes.

NASIR KAZMI (1925-1975)

Nasir Raza Kazmi, popularly known as Nasir Kazmi, was born on December 8, 1925 at Ambala. He was educated at Ambala, Simla and Lahore. He returned to Ambala in 1945 and started looking after his ancestral land. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, he came to Lahore He became editor of Auraq-i-Nau. In 1952 he became the editor-in-chief of Humayun. He was briefly associated with Radio Pakistan in Lahore. He died in 1975.

Nasir Kazmi started his poetic life in 1940 by following the style of Akhtar Sherani and wrote romantic poems and sonnets. Later he began writing ghazals (couplets) under the guidance of Hafeez Hoshyarpuri. Nasir Kazmi was influenced by the poetry of Mir Taqi Mir and has similar themes and ideas. Like Mir's verses, his poetry evince a melancholy mood. At the time of independence, the murders, looting and degradation left a mark on Nasir Kazmi's poetry. His work addresses human longings, lost love and the struggle for survival. It is simple in form with complex and artistic ideas.

N.M. RASHID (1910-75)

Nazar Muhammad Rashid was born on August 1,1910 in Kalgarh in Gujranwala district. He was initially educated at Gujranwala, did his intermediate from Government College Faisalabad and his M.A. in economics from Government College Lahore.

He started his career by launching the monthly magazine Nakhlistan from Multan, later the publication had to be stopped due to lack of resources. He joined All India Radio in 1942. He was sent to Peshawar in 1947, where he remained till 1953. He was later associated with Voice of America and moved to New York, and from there he left for Iran. He then joined the United Nations. N.M. Rashid died in America in 1975.He was cremated in accordance to his will.

Some of his famous collection of poems are; “Mawara”Iran Mein Ajnabi”, “La Musawi Insan”, and “Guma’n Ka Mumkin”. In his first collection of Poems "Mawara", he shocked the Urdu literary world by using the theme of sex in his poems,as it was and is still considered a taboo to discuss sex. He broke among with traditional style of poetry and attempted to popularise free verse. Urdu poetry was highly structured and Dr. Tasaduq Hussain Khalid was the first to introduce free verse. But it was N.M. Rashid who experimented with free verse and evolved a popular new trend in poetry. His poetry is modern and unique, with diction different from traditional poetry even when he uses traditional language in a new context. He also composed sonnets, a new and a difficult form in Urdu poetry. His diction is influenced by Arabic and Persian symbolism.

PERVEEN SHAKIR (1952-1995)

Perveen Shakir was born in 1952 in a religious family where the emphasis was on education, simplicity and sharing. Although her family observed purdah, Perveen was exempted of this because of her father's liberal approach. She started her education from Rizariya Girls School in Karachi. By the time she entered Sir Syed College, she was aware of the great classics. At that time, she started her career by writing essays and soon became popular in the press. When her college was celebrating Defence Day in 1968, Perveen was asked to compose a poem for the occasion. After much difficulty, she succeeded, and that was how she accidentally entered the world of Urdu poetry.

In the beginning her father did not approve of her writing poetry because he knew that she would not pay attention to her studies, but for Perveen there was no turning back. She kept participating in inter-collegiate contests, winning trophies, and reciting her poems at radio. During this time she sent two of her ghazals to her favourite poet, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, who was publishing a literary magazine Fanoon. He not only published her poems but also encouraged her to continue. Her first collection of poetry, "Khushboo”, established her reputation, and the book went through three edition in a month. This was followed by three other successful collections, "Sadberg", "Khudkalami" and "Inkar".

After passing the central superior services examination, she was appointed in the Customs Department. She also visited the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she received a scholarship in 1990. She also taught South Asian history, politics and film for two semesters at the University of Hartford. Perveen begins her poetic journey from the immediate and personally centred vision of human and natural reality. Intensity and clarity of image are the two qualities which strike the reader at once in her earliest poems.

She died in 1995 in a road accident at avery young age. Her last book "Mahe-i-Tamam" was published a couple of months before her death.


Sufi Ghulam Mustafa's pen name was "Tabassum," bestowed upon him by his friend Hakim Muhammad Hussain Arshi, because according to him, "there was always a faint smile on Sufi's lips”. Of Kashmiri ancestry, he was born on 4 August, 1899 in Amritsar. After his graduation from Church Mission High School there, his father forced him to open an import and export office in Amritsar, but Sufi Tabassum refused to cooperate and entered F.C. College Lahore, for an M.A. in Persian. He later joined Government College Lahore as a lecturer, where he became the head of the Persian department in 1943. He remained with the institution until his retirement.

He had a exellent command on both Urdu and Persian. He started writting poetry in Persian at the age of 13 or 14. He did not take poetry seriously at that time, but he participated in poetry competitions in school and college. He began writing poetry and prose more seriously when he became a regular writer for a magazine called Nairang-e-khiyaal in 1924. He is considered a pioneer in children's poetry. One of his first poems was "Cheechon Chacha”, a translation of "Hickory Dickory Dock”, which he wrote for his daughter. He has written many books of children's poetry. The most famous of his poems are "Totbatot” and "Jhoolnay”. The devotional songs written by him during the 1965 Indo-Pak War, which were sung by Madam Nur Jehan are still popular.

His love for the Persian language led him to help establish the first Iranian cultural center at Lahore, of which he became the director, after retiring from Government College in 1954. He visited Iran several times and was awarded a Tamgha-e-Nishan-e-Sipaas by the government of Iran in 1966. He also composed poetry in Punjabi language. Sufi Tabassum died in 1978 in Lahore.

  1. Anis Nagi, (tr.) Modern Urdu Poems from Pakistan, (Lahore: Allied Press, 1974).

  2. Aliya Inam, The Friday Times, Lahore, July 7-13, 1994.

  3. Biographical Encyclopedia of Pakistan (Lahore, International Publishers, 1985).

  4. Biographical Encyclopedia of Pakistan (Lahore, International Publishers, 1985).

  5. Dawn, Karachi, August 21, 1992.

  6. Dawn, Karachi, March 25, 1994.

  7. Jadid Shora-i-Urdu (Lahore, Ferozesons Limited, 1969).

  8. Pakistani Literature, Vol. 1 (Islamabad: The Pakistan Academy of Letters, 1992).

  9. Syed Akhtar Jaffery ,Aksay Adab Sharey Adab.(Lahore: Publishers Emporium, 1988).

  10. Syed Akhtar Jaffery, Aksay Adab Sharey Adab.( Lahore, Publishers Emporium, 1988).

  11. The Frontier Post, Lahore, January 19, 1993.

  12. The Muslim, Islamabad, April 29, 1994.

  13. The News, Lahore, 12 February 1994.

  14. Victor Kiernan (tr.) Poems by Faiz, (Oxford University Press: 1973).

  15. Zafar Iqbal, Aik Sau Mashhoor Shoara, Vol. 2 (Karachi: Shaheen Publications, 1985).

  16. Zafar Iqbal, Aik Sau Mashhoor Shoara, Vol. 2 (Karachi: Shaheen Publications, 1985).

  17. Zafar Iqbal, Aik Sau Mashhoor Shoara, Vol. 2 (Karachi: Shaheen Publications, 1985).

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