Singer Shaukat Ali, who performed for over five decades, breathed his last on Friday. He was a maestro who could sing patriotic songs, ghazals, Sufi poetry and folk hits with equal felicity Shaukat Ali’s powerful voice electrified many when it was aired for the first time on PTV in 1965. The popular war song “Sathio, Mujahido, Jaag Utha Hai Sara Watan” was originally sung together by Ali and Masood Rana and was later released as ISPR’s official video with Ali as lead singer. Another song that made him a household celebrity all over Pakistan was “Apna Parcham Aik Apna Quaid-e- Azam Aik Hai”.
Singer Shaukat Ali was often called the voice of Punjab for his rendition of Waris Shah’s Heer and Mian Muhammad Bakhsh’s Saiful Maluk besides folk genres that included challa and jagga, sung by generations of Punjabi singers. Among his Pujabi song hits were ‘Kyun Door Door Raindey O’ and ‘Kaddi Te Hass Bol Vay’. Ali was a well known figure in East Punjab also where he was invited to several performances.
Shaukat Ali was a people’s ambassador from Pakistan who created a lot of goodwill. On Saturday the Chandigarh-based English newspaper The Tribune quoted Punjabi poet Gurbhajan Gill who said Punjab had lost a towering cultural figure in Ali’s death. The condolence messages that poured in from East Punjab indicate that his admirers included a whole lot of well-known Punjabi stage artists and singers like Dalair Mehndi, Jasbir singh Jassi, Jaspinder Narula and top Padma Shri Award winner and BJP figure Hans Raj Hans. Ali’s singing skills endeared him to Punjabi speakers all over the world. He toured and performed overseas in countries that had significant pockets of Punjabi speakers like the UK, Canada and the USA.
Shaukat Ali received the ‘Voice of Punjab’ award in 1976. In July 2013, he was honoured with the ‘Pride of Punjab’ award by the Pakistan Institute of Language, Art and Culture (PILAC). He gave a live performance at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, and was awarded the highest Pakistani civilian presidential award ‘Pride of Performance’ in 1990. Despite the accolade he received, Shaukat Ali lived hand to mouth all his life.