May 15, 2023

Staff Report


Renowned playwright, satirist, economist, and educator, Shoaib Hashmi, passed away on the morning of May 15, 2023, after a prolonged illness. He was 85. Hashmi’s contributions to the fields of literature, economics, and education have left an indelible mark on the country.

Early life

Born in Lahore, in 1938, Shoaib Hashmi pursued a distinguished academic career. He obtained his Master’s degree in economics from Punjab University, Lahore, and went on to earn a Masters in Science from the prestigious London School of Economics. But it was his passion for theater that led him to study at the renowned Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London, leading him to produce some of the most brilliant satire shows in Pakistan – that are still referred to today.

Despite a major in Economics, Hashmi’s creative bent and artistic talents always stood out. In 1970, he and his wife, artist Salima Hashmi, co-wrote and co-starred in the widely acclaimed educational children’s program “Akkar Bakkar”, followed by comedy acts including “Such Gup” (1972) and “Taal Matol” (1974) on the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV). His last TV production was “Balila” (1979) which was banned by the Zia-ul-Haq regime soon after it first aired.

Hashmi was also a valuable ally of Pakistan’s civil society and a vocal supporter of progressive movements and laws, including the rights of women, minorities and laborers. He also held prominent positions in the field of academia. He served as Professor and Head of the Department of Economics at Government College (now Government
College University), Lahore, and later became the Director of the Centre for Media Studies, Art, and Design at the Lahore School of Economics.


Awards and recognition

Recognized for his exceptional achievements, Hashmi was honored with numerous accolades during his lifetime. In 1995, he received the prestigious Pride of Performance award, acknowledging his significant contributions to Pakistani literature and theater. He was also bestowed with the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, a notable civilian honor, in recognition of his exceptional services to education and culture. Following his retirement from teaching, he wrote columns in renowned newspapers, such as The News and Gulf News imbued with his sharp wit and humour.

Shoaib Hashmi suffered a stroke in 2012 that left him paralyzed and bedridden. His condition only deteriorated over time. He is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Salima Hashmi, and leaves behind a son Yasser and a daughter Mira Hashmi, the latter of whom is also associated with media arts, as well as four grandchildren.



As the news spread on Monday, Hashmi’s death was met with grieving and sadness for all those who knew him and had heard of him. Human rights activists, television and theater personalities, academics, economic analysts, and progressive thinkers expressed themselves on his passing and the kind of person he was.

Veteran rights activist Tahira Abdullah stated that “icon” and “legend” are too inadequate to describe Hashmi’s legacy. Hailing him a Qaumi Virsa, she recalled how Hashmi and the Such Gup team brought “a ray of hope and cheer in the unrelenting darkness that was the brutal Zia regime.”

“A hugely talented, multi-faceted, brilliant mind. In fact, a public intellectual par excellence… His passing is an irreparable personal and national loss – the end of an era,”


she stated, adding that it was a privilege to be alive in “Ehd-e-Shoaib Hashmi.”

Abdullah held that Pakistan should celebrate him, not just mourn his passing.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif also offered his condolences to the Hashmi family and termed his passing a huge loss to society, art and literature.

Shoaib Hashmi’s legacy will endure through his multifaceted contributions to theater, comedy and education. His vision, creativity, and dedication have left an indelible impact on society, and his memory will continue to inspire generations to come.


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