Iftikhar Arif lived in Lucknow till he migrated to Pakistan in the year 1965. Before migrating he completed his studies at the Lucknow University and in the University one of her teachers was Ehtisham Husain. Apart from University, he also studied at the Farangi Mahal, Madressa-i-Nizamia, and also at the Government Jubilee College in Lucknow.
Iftikhar Arif moved to Pakistan in the year 1965 and soon thereafter he won fame not just because of his poetry but also for his performance in the television show titled Kasauti in which he appeared alongside Obaidullah Baig. After coming to Pakistan he settled in the city of Karachi and began his professional career as a Radio newscaster.
Iftikhar Arif is an Urdu poet and three of his noted collections, Harf-i-Bryan, Mehr-i-Doneem, and Jahan-e-Maloom have been issued in various editions. While introducing his first book, Faiz Ahmed Faiz said that he has not only found traces of Ghalib and Meer in Iftikhar’s poetry but also of Noon Meem Rashid and Firaq Gorakhpuri. Famous personalities like Annemarie Schimmel, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Meerza Adeeb, Anna Suvorova and Mumtaz Mufti have paid their Tribute to him. Noted Professor Mujtaba Husain feels that “Iftikhar Arif’s poetry has the pomp and dash of Yagana and Aatish but in real life, he lacks aggression.
Arif's poetry has been translated into several languages such as Russian, English, Persian, German and Hindi.
For his contribution, he has been honoured with several awards and some of them include Sitara-e-Imtiaz, Hilal-e-Imtiaz, and Presidential Pride of Performance which is the biggest literary awards given by Government of Pakistan.