Born in Pakistan in 1955, Basir studied and taught English at the Government College in Lahore. He edited Ravi (1974) and was the office bearer of the college literary and dramatic societies. He did his MEd (1991) and MPhil (2000) at Manchester University, as well as a PGCE in English (1995). He was the news editor/reader for the BBC’s Asian Programme (1990–91) and a literature adviser to the North-west Arts Board (1993–96). He has conducted poetry and drama workshops all over the UK and has read widely in Britain, Pakistan, India, the Middle East, Europe and the USA.
Basir’s collections of Urdu poetry Mauj-e-Khayaal (1997) and Chaman Koi Bhi Ho (2008), a long play Bisaat (1987) and Bisaat’s translation The Chess Board (1997) have been published. English translations of Basir’s poems have appeared in several magazines and anthologies. Basir has also written extensively on the personality and poetry of his father Nasir Kazmi (1925–72), a famous Urdu poet.
Basir won a North-west playwrights’ workshops award in 1992. His plays have been performed at many northern theatres. His poem, ‘Taking Time’, selected by the Poems for the Waiting Room project (2001), was displayed in UK hospitals and clinics. One of his couplets, with English translation (‘The true-hearted can settle — no matter which land./A flower wants to bloom, wherever its garden.’), was carved in stone and installed at McKenzie Square in Slough in 2008. Basir has been awarded an MBE (2013) for services to literature as a poet.