ISLAMABAD: Prince Karim Aga Khan arrived in Islamabad on Thursday evening on an official visit on the invitation of Pakistan government.
It is part of a series of visits that coincides with the commemoration of his Diamond Jubilee, beginning earlier this year on July 11. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, CADD Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and other officials received the guest at the airport.
Later, Khawaja Asif and Aga Khan held a meeting during which various matters were discussed. While in Pakistan, he is expected to meet with President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other government leaders.
The Diamond Jubilee marks 60 years of his Imamat as the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. He acceded to the Ismaili Imamat on 11th July 1957, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, at the age of 20 as the 49th Imam of the Ismailis.
The Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, generally known as the Ismailis, live in over 25 different countries, mainly in Central and South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as in Europe, North America and Australia. The Ismaili community sees the Jubilee as an opportunity to provide hope for the future for populations that may be marginalized or vulnerable. By strengthening development initiatives that will help people live better and improve opportunities for their families and children, the Ismaili community hopes to do everything possible to make the world a safer, more peaceful and stable place.
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan. It is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s agencies focus on economic and social development, and cultural initiatives, for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. It operates in 30 countries around the world, employing 80,000 people, and has an annual budget for its social activities exceeding US $900 million.
The AKDN has had a longstanding presence in Pakistan, going back to 1905 when the first non-profit Aga Khan School was established in Gwadar Balochistan. Today, through the 160 schools of the Aga Khan Education Services and through the teacher training and school improvement programmes of the Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan Foundation, it has reached tens of thousands of teachers and millions of students.
It has provided the nation with thousands of doctors, nurses and midwives. These medical professionals are now serving throughout Pakistan. AKDN also operates an array of medical facilities that provide quality healthcare services to 1.8 million people a year throughout Pakistan.
AKDN has also planted over 30 million trees – much of it for fuel, fodder and construction. It has built smoke-free stoves that reduce respiratory ailments and simultaneously cut fuel wood consumption by 50 per cent. It provides electricity to about 40,000 households through 333 micro-hydroelectric projects.
It has prepared communities for disasters through 172 community emergency response teams and 36,000 trained volunteers. It has created safe, prize-winning drinking water and sanitation facilities for over 500,000 people. It provides financial services for millions of Pakistanis, including micro-insurance for health care. At the same time, it has worked to preserve Pakistan’s rich heritage by restoring over 170 historic settlements, forts, houses and monuments, ranging from the Wazir Khan Mosque Complex in Lahore to the Khaplu Village and Palace in Baltistan.
In all its endeavours in Pakistan and around the world, AKDN has tried to create a critical mass of integrated development activities that offer people in a given area not only a rise in income, but a broad, sustained improvement in the overall quality of life.
It encourages self-reliance and a long-term view of development. In fact, many areas that received AKDN support in the past have well-educated communities that are now masters of their own development, building their own schools and health centres and taking other measures to care for themselves and those less fortunate.