Reshma was born in Bikaner, Rajasthan to a Banjara (Gypsy) family around 1947. Her father Haji Mamad Mushtaq was a camel and horse trader from Malashi. She belonged to a tribe which had converted to Islam. Her tribe migrated to Karachi shortly after the Partition of India. She did not receive any formal education and spent much of her childhood singing at the mazars (shrines) of the mystic saints of Sindh.
When she was twelve years old, she was spotted singing at Shahbaaz Qalandar's shrine by a television and radio producer, who arranged for her to make a recording of "Laal Meri" on Pakistan radio. She became an instant hit and since that day, Reshma has been one of the most popular folk singers of Pakistan, appearing on television in the 1960s, recording songs for both the Pakistani and Indian film industry, and performing at home and abroad. Some of her famous numbers are "Dama Dam Mast Kalandar", "Hai O Rabba nahion lagda dil mera", "Sun charkhe di mithi mithi cook mahiya meinu yaad aunda", "Wey main chori chori", "Ankhiyan no rehen de ankhyan de kol kol".
The last was used by Raj Kapoor in Bobby, "Ankhyon ko rehne de ankhyon ke aas pass", sung by Lata. Her fame had crossed the border, thanks to pirated tapes. She was able to perform live in India much later, during the 1980s when India and Pakistan allowed exchange of artists. Subhash Ghai used her voice to great effect in the film Hero, which featured one of her most famous songs, "Lambi Judai". During her career she was invited to meet Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
She still loves going to the mazars, where several of her pirs (holy men) reside. She has been visiting Pir Mushtaq Hussain, Pir Shafqat Hussain in Okara for the last twenty-five years. She also visits the mazar of Shahbaz Qallander. She once said in an interview, "I was born in a family of saudagars in Rajasthan in a small settlement called Bikaner. I don't know the year I was born but I was told that I was brought to Pakistan when I was a few months old in 1947. My family would take camels from Bikaner and sell them in other areas, and bring back goats and cows from elsewhere to sell at home. I belong to a huge clan of gypsies. We were forever travelling around. Though a lot of us have now settled and taken up permanent residences in Lahore and Karachi, whenever we feel restless we pack our bags and move on.
In October 2002 Reshma performed at the Brunei Gallery in London to a packed fall of Pakistani expatriates her daughter Khadija and Umayr also performed. In 2004 she recorded "Ashkan Di Gali Vich Mukaam De Gaya", which was used in the Bollywood film Woh Tera Naam Tha, and was also a hit record in India. In January 2006 she was one of the passengers on the inaugural Lahore-Amritsar bus, the first such service linking both parts of the Punjab since 1947. The bus had 26 passengers in total of whom 15 were Pakistani officials, and Reshma had booked seven seats for herself and her family.
Reshma was diagnosed with cancer in the 1980s and more recently her health deteriorated, leading President Pervez Musharraf to come to her aid, giving her one million Rupees to help pay off a bank loan, as well as putting her on a secured assistance of 10,000 rupees per month. He also helped her secure a plot of land for herself, but that did not go through due to the change in government. On Hum TV, in Karachi, Pakistan, Reshma made it a point to let the audience know how unhappy she was with them, because she was forgotten. She also pointed out at the Zardari government for stopping her social assistance paycheck. She also mentioned that when she was in India, the officials asked her to stay there for good, as she was born in Rajasthan, but she returned to Pakistan. Her daughter Shazia Reshma sings with her mother sometimes on talk shows or events. Reshma can't sing much as her voice has been lost due to her illnesses. She can't pronounce words that well, and thus requires the help of her daughter to clear her singing.
Her current residence is in the area of Icchra in Lahore Pakistan. She is a vegetarian. Her younger sister Kaneez Reshma is also a professional singer. Her Health has deteriorated to such an extent that she was hospitalised in Lahore Pakistan in Doctors Hospital on 6th April 2013, the caretaker government has elected to pay all her medical expenses. The previous government under the presidency of Asif Zardari had never paid heed for her medical care. Superstars like Punjabi Rapper Bohemia also expressed his sorrow for Reshma via facebook post.