JHANG/KARACHI: Renowned Urdu writer of detective stories Ishtiaq Ahmed who died of a heart attack on Tuesday at Karachi airport while waiting to board a flight, was laid to rest in Jhang on Wednesday afternoon. He was 71.

His body reached Jhang at 11am. Funeral prayers were offered at Tableeghi Jamaat’s Bilal Markaz before his burial at Adhiwala graveyard.

Ahmed was born in Panipat, in the Indian state of Haryana. After partition he migrated to Pakistan. He grew up in Jhang where he did his schooling. He was a rare Urdu author of mystery tales who captured the imagination of children belonging to every stratum of society. But such was the charm of the web of mystery that he weaved through his unparalleled Inspector Jamshed series that a big number of his readers were adult men and women.

His language was simple but effective, and the three stock characters of the inspector’s children –– Mahmood, Farooq and Farzana, who would be at the centre of every mystery-solving episode –– endearing.

Apart from the immensely popular Inspector Jamshed spy novels, he was also the creator of the Inspector Kamran Mirza and Shoki Brothers series. On occasions, the three would be put together in a single story in a special novel if the script had a wider scope.

Isthiaq Ahmed authored 800 books, and also edited a magazine, Bachchon Ka Islam. Some of the famous and widely read Inspector Jamshed novels are Jeeral Ki Wapsi, Reshmi Parchhaen, Begaal Mission and Geemoof Ka Waar.

Ahmed was at the peak of his popularity and acclaim in the late 1970s and mid-1980s when his suave and pragmatic Inspector Jamshed and his inquisitive, smart children became household names. One interesting storytelling technique of the author was that each chapter of the story ended on a puzzling note, invariably eliciting an exclamatory remark from one of the kids.

Readers used to wait for his new book, which would invariably be in the shape of a novella in terms of size, for months to hit the newsstands. They would either buy it from bookstores or rent a copy from libraries that dotted nearly all middle-class localities of Karachi three decades ago. According to one account, he wrote his first book of the series in 1973.

Ishtiaq Ahmed had been in Karachi for the last few days to take part in the international book fair, held from Nov 13 to Nov 16 at the Expo Centre, where he signed copies of his books for his admirers. At the fair, his latest title Imran Ki Wapsi was the most sought-after book among his readers.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2015

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