This month in history: His Highness the Aga Khan announced plans to construct a medical college and teaching hospital

In December 1964, His Highness the Aga Khan announced his desire to build a modern medical centre consisting of a medical college, a school of nursing, and a teaching hospital, in Karachi, Pakistan to meet the health care needs of the country. The Government of Pakistan donated 84 acres of land for this initiative.

The foundation of the complex was laid in 1971, one-thousand years after His Highness the Aga Khan’s forefathers – the Fatimids – founded Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.

The School of Nursing was inaugurated on February 16, 1981 graduating its first class of nurses on December 14, 1983.

Inauguration of AKU School of Nursing
Inauguration of the School of Nursing by His Highness the Aga Khan and then President of Pakistan General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, February 16, 1981. Photo: Hidayat
Thirty-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the School of Nursing
His Highness the Aga Khan tours the School of Nursing during its inauguration. Photo: AKDN / Christopher Little
First graduation ceremony of the Aga Khan School of Nursing, December 14, 1983. Photo: Hidayat

The Medical College received its university Charter in March 1983. In order to achieve its goals, the Medical College collaborated with distinguished universities including McGill and McMaster in Canada, and Harvard in the United States.

The Aga Khan University is the first privately-owned Government chartered university in Pakistan, and is open to all who qualify. Today, the University has campuses and programmes in Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom.


AKU operates teaching hospitals in Karachi and Nairobi, Schools of Nursing and MidwiferyMedical Colleges, Institutes for Educational Development, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations , the Graduate School of Media and Communications, the East African Institute and the Institute for the Study of Human Development. AKU also runs an Examination Board and manages the French Medical Institute for Children in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Hidayat, October 1985
Hikmat, December 1986

Compiled by Nimira Dewji

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