Ashfaq Ahmed

Ashfaq Ahmed was born on August 22, 1925 in Garhmukteshwar village, Ghaziabad, British India. He obtained his early education in his native district. Shortly before independence in 1947, he migrated to Pakistan and made Punjab’s metropolis Lahore, home.He completed his Masters in Urdu literature from Government College, Lahore. Bano Qudsia, his wife and companion in Urdu literary circles is also one of the best Urdu novelists. She was his classmate at Government College.Post partition when Ashfaq Ahmed arrived at Walton refugee camp with millions of other migrants, he would make announcements on a megaphone round the clock. Later, he got a job at Radio Azad Kashmir, which was established on a truck that used to drive around various parts of Kashmir.He then got lectureship at Dayal Singh College, Lahore for two years. He then went to Rome to join Radio Rome as an Urdu newscaster. He also used to teach Urdu at Rome University.During his stay in Europe, Ahmed got diplomas in Italian and French from the University of Rome and University of Grenoble, France. He also got a special training diploma in radio broadcasting from New York University.The stories he wrote during childhood were published in Phool (flower) magazine. After returning to Pakistan from Europe, Ahmed published his own monthly literary magazine, Dastaango (story teller), and joined Radio Pakistan as a script writer.Ahmed was made editor of the popular Urdu weekly, Lail-o-Nahar (day and night) by the Government of Pakistan, replacing famous poet Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum.In 1962, Ashfaq Ahmed started his popular radio program, Talqeen Shah (The Preacher) which made him immensely popular among the people in towns and villages. It was a weekly feature that ran for three decades, the longest weekly radio show in the subcontinent.He was appointed director of the Markazi Urdu Board in 1966, which was later renamed to Urdu Science Board, a post he held for 29 years. He remained with the board until 1979. He also served as adviser to the Education Ministry during Zia-ul-Haq’s regime.In the 60s, he produced a feature film, Dhoop aur Saie (shadows and sunshine), which was not very successful in the box office.Ashfaq Ahmed’s subtle sense of humor is reflected in his long-running radio programs and characters like “Talqeen Shah,” while several TV drama series based on his memorable plays from three decades ago are still enjoyed by the audience. Their appeal lies in the universal truth of life portrayed in human hopes, emotions, aspirations and relationships that touch the soul of people of all age groups.His popular TV plays include Aik Muhabbat Sau Afsanay (Bunch of Love Stories), Uchhay Burj Lahore Dey (Barbarians of Lahore), Tota Kahani (Story of the Parrot), Lekin (But), Hairat Kadah (Incredibility) and Mun Chalay Ka Sauda (Bargain of the Stubborn).All through his life, Ashfaq Ahmad endeavored to reform society through his writings. He had authored over 25 books including a travelogue, Safar dar Safar (Long Journey), in an atypical style. In fact, he gave a new mold to diction and locale situations which many of his fans would fondly remember.He used Punjabi literary words very well in Urdu and introduced a new kind of prose, which was unique to him. For his excellent literary work, he was awarded President’s Pride of Performance and Sitara-i-Imtiaz for meritorious services in the field of literature and broadcasting.Besides a great author of impressive and laudable books, Ashfaq Ahmed, later in life, was greatly inclined towards Sufism, which visibly reflected in most of his works. His close association with Qudrat Ullah Shahab and Mumtaz Mufti was also attributed to this inclination.Of late, he used to appear in a get together with his fans in a television program ‘Baittakh’ (The Guest Room) and ‘Zaviya’ (The Dimension) where he gave swift but satisfying responses to each and every query placed before him, explicitly by the youth of each gender, in a mystic style.Ashfaq Ahmed died on September 7, 2004 at the age of 79, of pancreatic cancer.

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