Ashfaq Ahmed, (Urdu: اشفاق احمد) (August 22, 1925 – September 7, 2004) was a distinguished writer, playwright, broadcaster, intellectual and spiritualist from Pakistan. His prime qualities of heart and hand earned appreciations across the borders. He was regarded by many as the best Urdu Afsana (short-story) writer after Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai and Krishan Chander following the publication of his famous short-story “Gaddarya” [The Shepherd] in 1955.
Ahmed was born on 22 August 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 the Punjab metropolis, Lahore as his abode. He completed his Masters in Urdu literature from Government College Lahore. Bano Qudsia, his wife and companion in Urdu literary circles who is also one of the best novelists of Urdu, was his classmate at Government College.
After Partition, when Ashfaq Ahmed arrived at the Walton refugee camp with millions of other migrants, he used to make announcements on a megaphone around the clock. Later, he got a job in Radio Azad Kashmir, which was established on a truck that used to drive around in various parts of Kashmir. He then got lectureship at Dayal Singh College, Lahore for two years. Whereafter, he 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, he got diplomas in the Italian and French languages from the University of Rome and University of Grenoble, France. He also got special training diploma in radio broadcasting from New York University.
He started writing stories in his childhood, which were published in Phool [Flower] magazine. After returning to Pakistan from Europe, he took out his own monthly literary magazine, Dastaango [Story Teller], and joined Radio Pakistan as a script writer. He was made editor of the popular Urdu weekly, Lail-o-Nahar [Day and Night], in place of famous poet Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum by the Government of Pakistan.
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 as Urdu Science Board, a post he held for 29 years. He remained with the board until 1979. He also served as adviser in 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 at the box office.