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Table of contents
Qudrat Ullah Shahaba legendary personality

Early years

Family background

Career in Indian Civil Service

Career after independence

Retirement years


Literary circle

Major works

Shahab Namaan introduction


Initial chapters

Death and the final resting place

Qudrat Ullah Shahab
Qudrat Ullah ShahabA legendary personality

Qudrat Ullah Shahab (or Qudratullah Shahab; 1917 July 24 1986) was an eminent Urdu
writer and civil servant of Pakistan. He is well known in Pakistan not only for his
contribution in Urdu literature but also as a well know CSP Officer. He has a big circle of
fans among the Pakistani people although he died 24 years ago. His personality reflected
mysticism, which he got as a golden gift during his life, through an out-of-world
personality which he named as Ninety within his book SHAHAB NAMA, this
mysticism belongs to Owaisiah chain of Sufism. Perhaps this might also be a reason for
his popularity among the people.

Early Years
He was born in Gilgit, in an Arain family where his father Abdullah Sahib was Governor
during Dogra rule. Most of his schooling was in Kashmir, and there he excelled both in
Urdu and English languages. Without telling anyone he wrote an essay and won the
world competition by Reader's Digest, a rare achievement for any Indian Muslim in those
days. Then he came to Government College Lahore for his college education. His initial
days of life beginning with childhood were full of adventures, some of which he had
mentioned in his book Shahab Nama. The book has become a cult favourite in Paksitan.

Family Background

He belonged to a well educated and well established family. His father, Abdullah Sahab,
was a matriculate and governor of Gilgit during the Dogra Rule. He was born in Punjab,
British India, and at the age of six became orphan. After seeing the loss of his father's
property in loan servicing he decided to build a property unable to be taken by anyone.
He dedicated his life to education and became the first Muslim student who topped
Matriculation exam in Ambala District, Punjab province, this was during the early period
of the Aligarh Movement led by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Abdullah Sahib soon joined
Aligarh college where he excelled in English, Arabic, Persian, Philosophy, and
Mathematics. When he finished his BA he was one of the earliest graduates of Aligarh.

Sir Syed arranged a scholarship for Sahib to take the Indian Civil Service exam in
England, which he refused due to his mother's request. Sir Syed was furious and he
expelled him from Aligarh and asked him not to show his face to him again. Abdullah
Sahib honoured his words and became a Clerk at Gilgit, a far off place even today. He
was soon made Governor of the province. He spent eighteen to twenty years in Gilgit,
and all his children, three sons and three daughters were born there. He was a close
associate of Maharaja Pratap Singh, and was an expert on International Relations
especially with Russia and China.

Abdullah SahabQudrat Ullah s Father

Career in Indian Civil Service
He was selected for Indian Civil Service and later volunteered to serve in Bengal during
the famine of 1943 where he served as magistrate at Nandigram. He came under heavy
fire from the authorities when he distributed part of the strategic rice reserves to starving
local community.

Career after Independence

After coming to Pakistan he was first posted to Azad Kashmir at Muzaffarabad as chief
secretary of the new state. From there he came to Jhang, Punjab, as Deputy
Commissioner. He then served as Director of Industries of Punjab and had to mostly deal
with settlement issues concerning migration. He was first appointed by Ghulam
Muhammad as his personal secretary. He remained there during Iskander Mirza and
Ayub Khans time. He later went to Holland as ambassador and also served as Secretary

Retirement Years
Although he tried to resign couple of times during his career, it was not realized until he
saw Yahya Khans military rule. His trouble with government circles forced him to leave
Pakistan for United Nations, where he became member of UNESCO. He was denied
pension from Government of Pakistan for few years. During that time in England he
toured Palestine as an Iranian businessman to investigate the changes made in curriculum
and education by the occupation authorities of Israel. His spying job was successful and
all of his documentary evidences were accepted by UN. This mission was primarily
sponsored by Arab representatives of the United Nations.

Qudrat Ullah Shahab s family consisted of the following members.
Abdullah Sahib: His father was a graduate of Aligarh, and Governor of Gilgit
Mother: Karima Bibi (Shahab wrote Maan Ji on his mother)
Iffat Shahab: Wife (A doctor by profession) died in England in early 70s
Saqib Shahab: Only son who is a Medical doctor
Iffat ShahabQudrat Ullahs wife
Literary Circle
His master piece, Shahab Nama, was finished but still unpublished when he died in 1986.
It made him immediately a household name in Pakistan. Its idea came when he was
visiting his friend Ibn-e-Insha in England and they were talking about the philosophy of
life. He then started writing chapters and read them in reading circles. Some were
published in newspapers and magazines. His circle of friends included writers like
Ashfaq Ahmed, Bano Qudsia, Mumtaz Mufti, and Ibn-e-Insha.

Major Works
Following are the major works of Shahab

Shahab Nama
Maan Ji
Surkh Feeta
Ya Khuda

Shahb Namaan Introduction

Shahab Nama is the autobiography of Qudrat Ullah Shahab. It was finished in 1986 just
before his death. It was published the same year and soon he became a household name
in Pakistan.

Shahab Nama has sixty chapters and 893 pages (Sang-e-Meel Publications, Lahore,
2005). The first chapter entitled "Iqbal-e-Jurm" (confession) is about the author's
motivation for writing an autobiography. The next seven "Jammu main plague" (Plague
in Jammu), "Nanda Bus Service", "Chamkor Sahib", "Raj keroo ga khalisa baqi rahey na
ko" (No one else but the Khalsa shall reign), "Maharaja Hari Singh kay sath chahay" (Tea
with Maharaja Hari Singh), "Chandravati", and "ICS main dakhla" (Entry to
ICS)chronicle his early life up to entry into Indian Civil Service. Chapter nine to fifteen
describe author's experiences during his initial postings to different parts of India and
creation of Pakistan in 1947. Four chapters are devoted to Mr. Shahab's writings and
critics' comments on them. (Chapter 16 to 19). Chapter 20 is on the new state of Kashmir
("Azad Kashmir") and 21 on assassination of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaquat
Ali Khan ("Sila-e-Shaheed"). Chapter 22 to 34 are devoted to author's experiences as
Deputy Commissioner of Jhang District in Punjab. After a year in Jhang, Mr. Shahab left
for the Netherlands on a scholarship to attend a six-month course at the Institute of Social
Studies in The Hague. Two chapters, 35 and 36 are on his impressions of the Netherlands
and his decision to proceed to Hajj. Chapter 37 and 38 are a pilgrim's tale. "Jhoot, fraud
aur hirs ki daldal" (The quagmire of lies, fraud and greed), chapter 39, details author's
time at the Ministry of Industries as Director. For the next 200 pages, chapter 40 to 50,
Mr. Shahab delves into politics of his time as observed by him as the Principal Secretary
to Governor General Malik Ghulam Muhammad, President Iskander Mirza and General
Ayub Khan. The last ten chapters of Shahab Nama deal with a variety of topics such as
death of his mother ("Maa ji ki wafaat"), life of an Ambassador ("Rozgar-e-safeer"), the
future of Pakistan ("Pakistan ka mustaqbil)" and so on. There is a chapter titled "Iffat"
dedicated to his late wife. The last chapter is about his mystical experiences.


The book starts with an opening chapter Shahb wrote in President Zia's era. He briefly
introduces himself and tells the readers that Zia had recently offered to make him
Education Minister. He also writes about ill feelings of a few politicians and journalists
towards him. Many Pakistanis knew him to be a close aide and an advisor to President
Ayub Khan. Many tough acts relating to journalists and writers had wrongly been
attributed to Shahab.

Initial Chapters
In the opening chapters, Shahab has described his life and childhood in Jammu city. His
father had been a state employee of Maharajah of Kashmir in Gilgit and had settled in
Jammu after retirement. When he was six, plague broke out in Jammu and his parents
sent all children to Chamkor in present day Indian Punjab to live with his grandmother.
He studied in a Sikh dominated school where he was bullied by Sikh classmates. Later he
went to Prince of Wales College Jammu and won a scholarship. His main aim was to join
Indian Civil Service in which he succeeded. He was appointed to various districts mostly
in Bihar. In one chapter, he describes his encounter with the ghost of a dead girl in a
haunted house.

Shahab Namahis famous book

Death and the final resting place
This legend of Pakistan died in the year 1986. Many who visit Islamabad graveyard
return with strong nostalgic feelings. Several buried there have staged a key role in power
politics while others have ruled peoples heart. esides poets and writers, people of power
including Qudratullah Shahab, Maulana Kausar Niazi, Khurshid Hassan Mir and Altaf
Gauhar are also buried in the graveyard.
Resting Place of Qudrat Ullah Shahab

Qudrat Ullah Shahaban old man, a writer