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Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi: The Towering Poet And Writer In His Own Right

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Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi was born on 20th November 1916. He emerged as a towering Urdu poet and short story writer, coupled with his remarkable pursuit and contribution in the fields of journalism, literary criticism and play writing and became a literary colossus in his lifetime.

Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik’s book titled “Nadeem Shanasi” discusses the life, personality and art of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi. The book describes Qasmi’s personality, his ideological attachments and feuds with contemporary literary figures. The book contains some of the infuriated letters of Qasmi Sahab about his contemporaries. Though “Nadeem Shanasi” has raised some contentious issues and conflicting aspects of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi’s personality, it offers insights into his art and ideological commitments.

Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi’s literary labour can mainly be categorised into two streams of consciousness, poetry, and short stories. His poetic work included Jalal-o-Jama, Shola-i-Gul, Rim Jhim, and Kisht-i-Wafa. The poetry of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi is filled with love, beauty, nature and idyllic rural landscape. He has recognised the dignity of humanity in his constant effort to excel in his prose and poetry. He strives to create a better world through his poetic expression. His unique quality is his ability to merge the poetic sentiments with the prosaic realities of life in order to create a fresh sensibility.

راستہ نہیں ملتا

منجمد اندھیرا ہے

پھر بھی با وقار انساں

اس یقیں پہ زندہ ہے

برف کے پگھلنے میں

پو پھٹے کا وقفہ ہے

اس کے بعد سورج کو

کون روک سکتا ہے

سایہ جب بھی ڈھلتا ہے

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کچھ نہ کچھ بدلتا ہے

لمحہ ایک لرزش ہے

اک بسیط جنبش ہے

جیسے ہونٹ ملتے ہیں

جیسے پھول کھلتے ہیں

جیسے نور بڑھتا ہے

جیسے نشہ چڑھتا ہے

Whereas, his short stories include Chopal, Gandasa, Sannata, Kapaas Ka Phool, Aabley, Tuloo-o-Gharoob, Sailab-o-Gardaab, Anchal, Baseet, Muheet, Dasht e Wafa, Ghar se Ghar Tak, Nila Pathan, Dawam-dar-o-Deewar, Bazar-e-Hayat, Koh Paima, Aas Paas, and Jhoota.

In the poetry, he has written both traditional ghazals and the modern nazams. His poetry was distinguished by its humanism, and his Urdu afsana (novel writing) work is considered by some second only to Prem Chand in its depiction of rural culture.

Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi was born in Khushab District of Punjab. Qasmi received his early education from his native village and from high school in Campbellpur (now Attock) in 1931.

He had long career in writing and editorship, rendering services editing several prominent literary journals, including Phool, Tehzeeb-i-Niswaan, Adab-i-Lateef, Savera, Naqoosh, and his own brainchild, Funoon. He also worked as the editor of the prestigious Urdu daily Imroze. He also became active member of the Progressive Writers Movement, and was consequently arrested many times during 1950s and 1970s.

Qasmi knew Saadat Hasan Manto closely. They both were in contact in 1930s when Manto was living in Bombay and writing for films. Manto invited him to write the dialogues for a film called Dharam Patni. Qasmi wrote many poems and short stories in English too. His poem “The Feed” is included in the syllabus of intermediate classes in Pakistan. He received the Pride of Performance award in 1968 and Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 1980 for his literary work.

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Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi radiated like a shimmering moon on the vast horizon of Urdu literature for about almost 75 years. He was a literary doyen and mentor who guided his fellows in every way in literature, culture and creative epistemology. He was baselessly blamed by different people of taking undue advantage through kindness and appreciation.

There was a special attraction in his personality for the emerging poets and writers for whom he opened new horizons through mentoring and encouragement. His love for the emerging writers was matchless. He trained female writers and imparted literary excellence in them to establish themselves as unique writers in their own right.

Recently, the Capital Development Authority, Islamabad (CDA) approved renaming 7th Avenue as Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi Avenue. One wishes if his creative characters deeply embedded in the cultural ethos of this country were shown to the young generation in the form of plays instead of imitating some outlandish characters of an imagined history.

Qasmi led a full and rich life in all respects as an honest man who rose from modest origins to great national stature, as a leading poet and writer, as an eminent journalist and as a very active member of the literary community whose work inspired his contemporaries. The younger generation will continue to seek inspiration from his rich creative traditions deeply embedded in the culture of the land he belonged.

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