Aljazeera cartoonist's work honoured

The Pakistani government has honoured Aljazeera.net's resident cartoonist by issuing a souvenir stamp of his work that marks the 100th anniversary of powered flights.

    Flying high... Shujaat with the souvenir stamp in background

    The stamp by Shujaat Ali, 33, depicts the conversion of propeller to jet age by the Pakistani Air Force (PAF), which, in 1956, bid farewell to the propeller age by phasing out its Fury aircraft and replacing these with the North American F-86F Sabre.

    "I feel honoured and really proud for my country honouring my work while I am outside the country," says the Rawalpindi-born artist, popularly known as Shujaat, who now resides in Doha, Qatar, where Aljazeera.net is based.

    "It shows that they have not forgotten me. It's a beautiful feeling. People are still calling me, saying they miss my cartoons. That's the biggest evidence they appreciate what I have done."

    The PAF originally commissioned the painting depicted on the stamp to Shujaat to mark the Golden Jubilee of its 14th Squadron, in the late 90s.

    Not the first

    This is not the first time that Shujaat, an honorary member of the Qatar Air Force 11th Squadron and Pakistan Air Force's 14th Squadron, as an aviation artist, is honoured for his talent.

    "This honour," he says, "will be added to two other achievements".

    The honorary stamp depicting
    Shujaat's creativity 

    "The first was the recognition by the Supreme Court of Pakistan as a courtroom artist (1993-94) and the second was my nomination as the first aviation artist of Pakistan from the civil sector in 2000."

    Shujaat, who is also the winner of six best cartoonist awards, has not trudged or sketched an easy road to fame.

    "I was denied entry to one of the top art schools in Pakistan, for reasons I deem elitist", he explains. "I had but a middle-class upbringing and that wouldn't guarantee entry to that particular institution".

    But once his work became known, he said, famed institutions such as the Institute of Mass Communication in Pakistan, approached him to impart his knowledge to emerging artists. Shujaat held a lecturing post for two years at the institute, although he has no formal art qualifications. He holds a degree in science.

    Started off in school

    His earliest recollection of sketching cartoons is in the classroom when his fellow class mates utterly enjoyed his sketches of their teachers.

    It was the encouragement of family and friends, he says, that got him to combine "political analysis with art". He remembers his first-ever cartoon published by The News International newspaper in Pakistan, where he held his first job as a cartoonist, depicting the struggles in Afghanistan. 

    "My message to up and coming artists and cartoonists is to ensure a good political grip of issues both domestic and international and to combine that with skill and technique in executing your ideas"

    Shujaat Ali
    Aljazeera.net cartoonist

    "My message to up and coming artists and cartoonists,", he says, "is to ensure a good political grip of issues both domestic and international and to combine that with skill and technique in executing your ideas".

    Shujaat's awards include two international awards for best cartoonist from Tokyo, Japan(1997) and Tehran, Iran (1993). He also holds best political cartoonist award from the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) for 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

    Shujaat has been working for Aljazeera.net since 2000 with his interactive cartoons receiving both approval and disparagement. Even the White House has had its ire raised by a Shujaat cartoon. But then again... you can't please everyone now, can you?

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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