February 18, 1981


On Wednesday 18th February 1981, His Highness Prince Karim Agakhan was interviewed on television by Mr. Javed Jabber, a well known personality in television and advertising. Some important questions were spotlighted to seek Hazar Imam's assessment on them and we reproduce hereunder the interview ad-verbatim for our readers-EDITOR:


JJ: His Highness the Agakhan paid a four day visit to Pakistan to mark the official inauguration of the School of Nursing which was started at the Agakhan Hospital and Medical College Complex in Karachi. Here is the opportunity of his presence in Karachi to ask him his assessment on subjects of national as well as international interest in the present time.

Your Highness, while your current visit to Pakistan is concerned with the official inauguration of the School of Nursing which was started at the Agakhan Hospital and Medical College Complex, we would like to know your assessment on the overall role of the Agakhan Foundation in Pakistan as a whole.

HH: Well, the Hospital and the Medical College is only one of the Foundation's programmes in Pakistan. We are interested in number of other areas of national life where we think that philanthropy should be encouraged. I think one of our principal areas of concern is the very great difference in quality of life between the rural areas and the urban areas. Therefore, one of the initial steps we will take is to try to improve the quality of rural life in the urban areas. That means that all rural development programmes are of prime interest to us. Second area of interest is management, because we believe that many institutions, many programmes, could be more productive, both in form of quality and efficiency, if people have access to proper management training programmes, and I think this is not in any way special to Pakistan, it is a fact in many many countries in the developing world.

JJ: Particularly you would say, particularly with reference to talking of management for developing country like Pakistan, for instance, agricultural management is a concept as yet not developed. You think that management could be applied with active results? HH: Without doubt, I think agriculture is prime area for management improvement. I think there is another area which is very important which is, public health programmes, medical institutions, educational programmes, educational institutions, they have not -- generally speaking in the developing world -- benifitted from the same input of management talent as for example, economic institutions.

JJ: The Agakhan Foundation also plays an active role on the International level. Perhaps you would like to elaborate on its different dimensions?

HH: We are presently active in Kenya, in Syria. We have a Branch in Canada, a Branch in U.K., and what it really compounds to is, an essential effort to mobilize means and know-how from the industrialised world, and to make these means and know-how available to developing countries, and I would say, each country has its priorities - that basically we are interested in making man more productive. You know in the past there has been a tendency to invest in physical assets and I think that this is beginning to change. There is a better understanding that man is an extraordinary creature, a creation, and that assisting him to become creative, productive within his national context, is the most productive thing an institution can do. And I am very happy to see institution like the World Bank are recognizing that more and more today.

JJ: Which reminds me that the International Agency like the United Nations Development Programme has identified the Agakhan Foundation as a regular collaborative institution.

HH: Yes, Yes.

JJ: Has any recent development taken place regarding this role?

HH: Yes, we are looking at a number of programmes with the UNDP. It is a very big agency, a powerful agency, and they are essentially looking, I think, for institutions in the developing world with which they can collaborate in the same terminology, the same language, and they are seeking efficiency-and they are seeking the mobilization of non-governmental organizations, and the Agakhan Foundation is one of them. We are looking at management teaching institutions in a number of countries, we are looking at energy development in a number of areas, we are looking at rural development programmes with them so that there is a great deal which is under way at the moment.

JJ: As the unique Internationally personality of our times, you have been able to visit different countries in the Third World. You are able to gain a special insight into different aspects of development that face the Third World. Of all the problems that confront us in Asia and Africa, such as medical care, nutrition, literacy, education, employment, would you care to identify one single area in which you think that certain countries need to undertake great effort which could act as a catalyst or a pivot to advance overall programmes?

HH: Very good, a very astute question and a correct question. I think you should look at the Third World countries, and essentially I am talking about Asia and Africa. I am referring as yet to South America, but if you look at most of these countries, many of their economies are dominated by one or two major cash crops. It may be jute, it may be sisal, it may be tea, it may be coffee, and so long as there is no stabilizing force, which enables these countries to manage their economies, without continually being subject to fluctuation over which they have not control, these countries simply are never going to be able to plan and develop their economies; and that, perhaps in my view is one of the most central issues that has got to be resolved and quickly.

JJ: And though the aegis of the Foundation you tend to prefer selection of projects which help to achieve this objective?

HH: You know, the objective I told you about really have got to result from International government collaboration. They cannot-I don't think a private or an NGO as such, can exercise such an influence which would be necessary to achieve in International agreement which would be not only signed but agreed and respected.

JJ: In the context of the North-South relationship and the North-South dialogue, and with special reference to the very low level of foreign aid-in fact the failure of the Industrialized North to achieve even the minimum foreign aid level target set by the United Nations, do you feel that the countries of the South need to restructure their organizational approach to the problem, or do you think that the present framework is adequated?

HH: I think the framework may be adequate, but I am not sure that the method which is being used is necessarily correct. I tend to see in the Third World, a much greater requirement fo the mobilization of people than has been generally recognized - If I compare what has happened in China, what has happened in Japan, what has happened in Korea, my interpretation is that there has been an immense mobilization of people and therefore, wealth that has been generated has re-circulated in those economies in a highly effective manner. My concern is that at the present time many Third World countries do not seem to be able to mobilize the people, even if the assets were there. I am not saying that the assets are there, in many cases they definitely are not-but I think that assets alone is not the answer, there has got to be mobilization of the nation's talent in the most total form before real progress can be achieved.

JJ: And perhaps, education-the emphasis on literacy needs to be much greater than it has been. HH: Much greater, and I think monitoring of efficiency, is terribly important.

JJ: One feels that even now, after the Islamic Revival, the conduct within the Muslim World is still confined to Governments rather than to people and one reason may be the very deep links of mass media-and mass communication within the Muslim World. It is still dominated by non-Islamic agencies of communication. Do you believe there is a need for the Islamic World to undertake greater action in this area?

HH: Oh, there is immense need for that. I think it is fundamental to the way not only the non-Islamic World sees the Islamic World, but as you say; the way Islamic World itself sees itself-that would to me, go through the process, acquire the process of not only training journalists, training people in the media, but mobilizing for the field of communications the best intellects available. Its a field where I think the best intellect should be encouraged to go, and perhaps we should give much more recognition to that, and give it much more time, effort, and consideration.

JJ: Do you feel that mass communication is a subject in which the Foundation could play a role?

HH: Very definitely. We have already, actually identified this as being a field in which we have got to encourage people and frankly I would be very open to students who wish to go into journalism in the serious form of journalism not some of the less good forms, but in order to enable muslims from muslim part of the world to communicate aptly and intelligently, on what is happening.

JJ: Not Journalism just in its totality?

HH: No, television, radio, all forms of communication.

JJ: Well, I think we covered a wide number of subjects in a relatively short time. Your Highness, thank you for being with us.

HH: Not at all, Thank you.

Source: Ismaili Miror, March 1981

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