She represents the first generation of modern artists in Pakistan who carry an artistic identity different from indigenous artists. She is known for condemning the Pakistani and Indian nuclear programs; she is one of the few Pakistani intellectuals who condemned the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in 1998. She received the Pride of Performance Award in 1999 for her services to the nation.
Salima was born to Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alys Faiz in 1942 in New Delhi, India. She has one younger sister, Muneeza Hashmi, a senior producer with Pakistan TV. Her mother, Alys Faiz, was a sister of Christobel Taseer, mother of Salman Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab, Pakistan.
Salima migrated with her family to Lahore during the partition of India in 1947 and was raised in Lahore. After studying design at Lahore's National College of Arts (NCA), she moved to England in the early 1960s, where she studied at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, receiving a diploma in art education from there in 1965. Salima also studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, US.
Salima married a fellow professor Shoaib Hashmi. The couple has a son, Yasser Hashmi. Her husband Shoaib Hashmi retired from a teaching position at Government College University, Lahore, and was also a popular co-star with her in comedy television shows on Pakistan television in the early 1970s.
"Salima Hashmi, artist, curator and contemporary art historian, taught at Lahore's National College of Arts for 31 years before working as its principal for four years. Currently dean at the Beaconhouse National University's school of visual arts, she is known to promote a unique intellectual perspective among students, teaching them to appreciate nature, cultural traditions and sacredness of the crafts."