Jubilation – Salgirah Mubarak | Karimabad: Salgirah of the Aga Khan’s first arrival in Hunza celebrated by the Ismaili Muslims

Ismailimail wishes the jamats of Northern Pakistan and the rest of the world Salgirah Mubarak as we share Pamir Times’ account of the annual festivities of Salgirah commemorating the anniversary of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s first Visit to Northern Areas of Pakistan.

Ismaili Muslims celebrated the anniversary of their spiritual leader, His Highness the Aga Khan’s first arrival in Hunza Valley. The occasion was marked with dance and festivity. Speakers highlighted the role of the Aga Khan in Hunza’s development, comparing life before and after the 1960s. 

Prayers were offered for global peace and unity among the human race. Special prayers were also offered for unity among all sects of Islam.

The Aga Khan, who came for the first time to the region to meet his followers had, after his return initiated a development programme that led his community out of the abysmal poverty, illiteracy and ignorance of the past.

The AKDN continues playing a leading role in development of health, education, economy, culture, tourism and other fields of life in the Hunza Valley. The AKDN also works in Ghizar, Skardu, Ghangche, Astore and Gilgit district of the region, along with the neighboring Chitral district.

Pamir Times Report. Published Oct 22, 2014 Photographs: Ikram Najmi 

Karimabad, October 22: Ismaili Muslims celebrated the anniversary of their spiritual leader, His Highness the Aga Khan’s first arrival in Hunza Valley. The occasion was marked with dance and festivity. Speakers highlighted the role of the Aga Khan in Hunza’s development, comparing life before and after the 1960s. 

Prayers were offered for global peace and unity among the human race. Special prayers were also offered for unity among all sects of Islam.

Speakers also shed light on the need for sectarian harmony in the region. The youth were urged to play an active and positive role in bringing the people of the region together, to create an enabling and mutually-enhancing society.

The Aga Khan, who came for the first time to the region to meet his followers had, after his return initiated a development programme that led his community out of the abysmal poverty, illiteracy and ignorance of the past. The AKDN continues playing a leading role in development of health, education, economy, culture, tourism and other fields of life in the Hunza Valley. The AKDN also works in Ghizar, Skardu, Ghangche, Astore and Gilgit district of the region, along with the neighboring Chitral district.

Initially, the interventions by the AKDN were resisted by different communities. However, during the last decade an era of acceptance has enable the network to reach more communities and serve them in different areas.

Ismailis are a sub-branch of the Shia sect and they believe in the Aga Khan as a hereditary spiritual leader, who traces his lineage to the holy prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) through his daughter Hazrat Fatima (RA) and son-in-law Hazrat Ali (RA).

Learn more and preview photos of jubilant murids at PAMIR TIMES | Voices of the Mountain Communities – Salgirah of the Aga Khan’s first arrival in Hunza celebrated by the Ismaili Muslims

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About Aga Khan Development Network’s (AKDN) and Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) Activities in Northern Pakistan

AKDN’s programme in Pakistan is, in experiential terms, the most studied development programme in the Network. Many of the methods employed elsewhere by AKDN agencies, and replicated by other NGOs and governments, were tried first and then refined in Pakistan.

AKDN’s earliest coordinated area development programme included community mobilisation, infrastructure development, microfinance lending and savings, agricultural programmes that encompass land reclamation, irrigation and forestry, curative health care, preventive community health schemes and world-class medical training, education from pre-primary to postgraduate levels, the introduction of clean-water supplies and sanitation facilities, the construction of mini hydro-electric plants in remote communities, and the restoration of historic buildings, monuments and housing. Activities are largely concentrated in the mountainous Northern Areas, North West Frontier (Chitral) and Baltistan provinces as well as in the Punjab, Baluchistan and Sind provinces.

Before the Karakorum Highway was built in the late 1970s, the areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral were isolated from the rest of Pakistan. Most people lived from subsistence agriculture. When AKDN first came to the area, it made community mobilization, experimentation and innovation hallmarks of the early programme. Later, when solutions were found for development challenges, these programmes scaled up with the help of national and international partners.

Often described as a process of “learning by doing”, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) approach of working in partnership with communities has made remarkable changes in the lives of the 1.3 million villagers who live in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan region – among some of the highest mountain ranges of the world, including the Karakorum, Himalayas, Hindukush and Pamirs.

Most of these beneficiaries are widely dispersed across a region covering almost 90,000 square kilometres, an area larger than Ireland. Among many notable achievements have been a significant increase in incomes, the construction of hundreds of bridges, irrigation channels and other small infrastructure projects, the planting of over 30 million trees and reclamation of over 90,000 hectares of degraded land, the mobilization of over 4,500 community organizations and the creation of savings groups which manage over US$8 million.

Perhaps the most impressive achievement has been its pioneering community-based, participatory approach to development. For over 30 years, AKRSP has successfully demonstrated participatory approaches to planning and implementation of micro-level development in rural areas, including the mobilization of rural savings and provision of micro-credit; the application of cost-effective methods for building rural infrastructure; natural resource development; institution and capacity building; and successful partnership models for public-private sector initiatives.

The development model adopted by AKRSP has itself been widely replicated both within AKDN and outside it. A network of Rural Support Programmes now exists all over the country with the mandate to design and implement strategies for alleviation of rural poverty. In South Asia and other parts of the world programmes based on this model have been set up to promote grassroots development through involvement of local communities.

Accolades

AKRSP has received a number of awards, including the 2005 Global Development Awards for Most Innovative Development Project. The award, which was announced at the Seventh Annual Global Development Conference held in St. Petersburg, Russia on 20 January 2006, was given to the development projects that were judged to have the greatest potential for benefiting the poor in developing countries. For more information, please see the Global Development Network website.

It also received an Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy, or “Green Oscar”, for its programme of mini-hydels, or micro-hydroelectric plants, in the Northern Areas and Chitral. The Ashden Award cited the AKRSP for the sustainable and eco-friendly solution: “Unlike dams, which invariably damage the local eco-system, the micro-hydel technology used by AKRSP involves simply digging a narrow channel to divert water along a hillside and into a pipe, creating enough pressure to turn a turbine and so produce 20 -100kw of power.” The impact in areas off the electricity grid has been significant. Over 180 micro-hydel units supplying electricity to 50 percent of the population of Chitral have been built. The projects are implemented, maintained and managed by the communities themselves.

Discover, Explore and Learn more at AKDN: Country Focus – Pakistan and AKF: Country Summary – Pakistan


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