Irfan Husain was born in Amritsar, India, in 1944 and migrated with his family to the newly created state of Pakistan three years later. Educated in Karachi, Paris and Ankara, he joined the civil service in 1967 after obtaining a master's degree in economics. He has pursued a parallel and covert career as a freelance journalist for most of his working life, writing under a succession of pseudonyms. As Mazdak, he became a popular columnist on the Internet edition of Dawn, a newspaper he has been writing for over the last two decades. Since 2002, he divides his time between the UK, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.