Ismailis contribution to Pakistan’s establishment and development

LAHORE: The echoes of the merciless terrorist attack on the Agakhani Ismailis, a major Shia community having presence in more than 25 countries of Africa, Europe, Australia and North America, will be heard for a very long time to come as over 15 million followers of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV have suddenly been left to mourn the tragic loss of dozens of precious lives in Karachi.

Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini or Aga Khan IV is the current and 49th Imam of Ismaili Muslims. He has a deep emotional attachment with Pakistan because he happens to be the grandson of the Karachi-born Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah or Aga Khan III (1877-1957), who was one of the founders and the first President of the All-India Muslim League in 1906. It was Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah who had called on the British Empire to consider Muslims to be a separate nation within India.

Prince Karim Aga Khan’s father Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan (1911-1960) had served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, where he had also gone on to become the Vice President of the General Assembly and Chairman of the UN Peace Observation Committee. Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan was nominated by President President Iskander Mirza in February 1958 to represent Pakistan in the United Nations. When Oman had agreed to sell Gwadar to Pakistan for Rs5.5 billion in December 1958, donations were raised and the biggest contribution had come from Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan.

Aga Khan’s philanthropic institutions spend about US$600 million per year – mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.In Pakistan, the Aga Khan Foundation has till date established a number of welfare projects to provide sustainable solutions to long-term problems of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and ill health etc, besides focusing on goals like community participation, gender, pluralism and human resource development. But centuries before that, the Ismailis had played a pivotal role in the establishment of the globally-acclaimed University of al-Azhar in Cairo.

AKDN - AKF activities in Pakistan (Image credit AKDN.org)
AKDN – AKF activities in Pakistan (Image credit AKDN.org)

The first institution set up by the Aga Khan Health Service in Pakistan was a 42-bed maternity hospital formerly known as the Janbai Maternity Home at Karachi in 1924. Today known as the Aga Khan Hospital for Women and Children Kharadar (Karachi), this initiative was funded by Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah and the philanthropic efforts of a local leather tycoon Seth Bundeh Ali Kassim, who was a member of the Ismaili Supreme Council.

And since then, the Aga Khan Health Service has financed 164 health centres, seven hospitals, maternity home, two medical centres, a physiotherapy unit and seven community dental units to reach over 581,000 people in rural and urban Sindh, Punjab and many parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) is also running 16 schools and 16 colleges and hostels in Norther Pakistan.

Few projects undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Pakistan since 1967 include the International Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development, the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, the Aga Khan Cultural Services Programme, the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy, the Balochistan Early Childhood Development Project, the Northern Areas Education Development Improvement Programme, the Building and Construction Improvement Programme, the Chitral Child Survival Project, the Water Supply and Sanitation Extension Programme in Northern Areas, the Northern Areas Community Health Programme and the Flood Relief Programme etc.

Read the complete story via The International News | Ismailis contributed to Pak establishment, development

By Sabir Shah for The International News. Posted on Friday, May 15, 2015 From Print Edition


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