Sardinia with its open blue skies and deep emerald water front, was the venue of the meeting the Pakistan delegation had with Mowlana Hazar Imam in July 1972.
The delegation was called to Sardinia to submit their recommendations for new appointments for Hazar Imam's gracious consideration, and nomination. The new nominations were to be made for various Social and Welfare Institutions of our Jamat including the Executive Officers, from all over West Pakistan under the jurisdiction of Namdar Federal Council for Pakistan.
The Sardinia meetings remained inconclusive and Hazar Imam desired the delegation to meet with him again in October in Paris.
The significance of the Sardinia and Paris meetings was that Hazar Imam desired a change of the social Workers of the Community at all levels and to implement the changes by the end of 1972. As we heard from Vazir Amirali H. Fancy in his address to our Jamats in Karachi and Hyderabad, the new nominations by Hazar Imam would be announced on the auspicious occasion of Youm-e-Wiladat of our beloved Hazar Imam on December 13, 1972. Considering the number of meetings held and intensive work done to finalize the scrutiny of the recommendations for new nominations, it becomes more than apparent that Hazar Imam attaches great significance to providing the Community with selfless devoted qualified social workers and develop future leadership in the Community. This has been Hazar Imam's deep concern for some time.
The delegation which met with Hazar Imam in Sardinia and Paris comprised of Vazir Amirali H. Fancy, President, H.R.H. The Aga Khan Federal Council for Pakistan, Vazir Abdul Hamid Hassanali, Vice President, H.R.H. The Aga Khan Federal Council for Pakistan, Vazir Amirali Senior Vazir Currim, Estate Agent of Hazar Imam in Pakistan, Vazir Hassanali Valliani, Honorary Secretary, H.R.H. The Aga Khan Federal Council for Pakistan, Mr. Ashiqueali H. Hussein, Education Administrator, Rai Ramzan Merchant, President, H.R.H. The Aga Khan Garden Council Karachi, Rai Kassamali Mohammed Jaffer, Vice President, Ismailia Association for Pakistan, Mr. Zool Khanbhai, Executive Officer, H.R.H. The Aga Khan Education Department for Pakistan.
In the Sardinia meetings, Hazar Imam gave his guidance on the question of various new appointments and concepts for effectiveness of various institutions in very specific terms. Hazar Imam's emphasis was on a meaningful change' and appointment of active, qualified workers on merit' to serve the Community. With the changing times, Hazar Imam desired that all the Jamati Institutions, small and large, should now plan their work-force and implement their projects on more scientific lines and that the activities of the Jamat in all fields of welfare work should be directly related to the available manpower and other resources. Hazar Imam also stressed the need for an effective institutional infra-structure, which should be manned by well trained and academically well qualified social workers. These workers should be able to draw out the needs of the Jamat in light of the changing times and convert the same into effective workable programmes. These Jamati institutions must be managed by qualified young members of the Jamat who in the times ahead would assume much greater responsibilities towards the welfare of the Jamat and the Nation. The experience gained by the young social workers, as a result of their academic achievements or professional status, should be effectively utilized by the Jamat in all spheres of its activities for its growth and development.
Hazar Imam advised the Committee at Sardinia to return to Pakistan and make a study of the available qualified manpower in the Jamat, and re-submit their recommendations in the light of his Hidayat, and within the frame-work of the criteria set by Hazar Imam.
Accordingly, the delegates returned to Pakistan. On their return, it is learnt that the Committee collected a great amount of details regarding available manpower and compiled lists of nominations, with detailed bio-data and information on the lines desired by Hazar Imam. The Committee was directed to submit three names of equal merit for each nomination for Hazar Imam's consideration and gracious approval. After about a month's intensive preparation, the members of the Committee left for Paris on October 24, 1972.
The Paris meetings with Hazar Imam were scheduled from October 25 to November 6, 1972. Cool Paris weather welcomed the delegates from the hot weather in Pakistan. The members of the Committee stayed collectively at a Hotel in Paris and drove up each morning to Hazar Imam's country home at "LASSY" in Luzarches, about an hour's drive from Central Paris.
In all, the delegation spent approximately 50 hours with Hazar Imam, discussing minutely the recommendations prepared by them. After having discussed the nominations thoroughly, Hazar Imam made his own remarks against each name. Hazar Imam also spent considerable time reviewing and re-establishing the concepts and the criteria earlier enunciated at Sardinia. Hazar Imam pointed out that the honorary voluntary service in the Jamat, has been a long established tradition, and it is great pride for Imam and Jamat. Hazar Imam expressed great happiness and satisfaction for time and effort that was being given by the members of the Jamat in various fields of Community services. However, Hazar Imam felt that there was now also need to introduce scientific and professional methods of working in the institutions of the Jamat and this would make it imperative to have professional personnel to be associated in the management of the Jamati institutions. This change was necessary, especially in view of the rapidly changing circumstances and also to keep pace with the modern times. Furthermore, those members of the Jamat who have acquired professional skills through their education should now plough back their energies and experiences for the general uplift and welfare of the Jamat and the Country.
During the course of 12 days Hazar Imam also graciously held three meetings with Education delegation from Pakistan comprising of Mr. Ashiqueali, Education Administrator, Mr. Sikandar Rai Ghulamali, Chairman, Regional Education Board Karachi, Mr. Sadruddin Ismail Govinji, Finance Officer Central Education Board and Mr. Zool Khanbhai, Executive Officer. These meetings were also attended by Mr. Michael Curtis, Executive Aide of Hazar Imam, Vazir Fancy, Vazir Amirali Currim and Vazir Z.C. Valliani. In these meetings Hazar Imam reviewed the progress made by the Jamat in the Education Sector.
The routine of hard work was broken occasionally, our beloved Princess Zahra appeared on one fine morning, accompanied by our beloved Begum Sabiha, beautifully dressed in a lovely winter outfit, carrying her toys. She sweetly greeted the members and talked to some. As we have been told, Our beloved Princess's vocabulary has increased considerably and she won the hearts of all present.
Hazar Imam also granted individual audiences to the members of the delegations at his country residence in "Chantilly", on the outskirts of Paris.
October 28th, was the third Wedding Anniversary of our beloved Hazar Imam & Begum Saheba Varsiani Gulzar and her husband Mr. Robert Muller had extended an invitation to their Highnesses for dinner at "Lassy", which they had graciously and affectionately accepted for the 29th evening. Members of Pakistan delegation along with other Ismailis residing or visiting Paris at the time, were also invited by Varsiani Gulzar to the dinner. Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba arrived for the dinner at 9 p.m. and stayed at the dinner for almost 4 hours. Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba, who were in a very happy and benevolent mood, met and talked individually to all those present. Begum Sahiba looked most elegant in a blue sari, with exquisite diamond brooch to match. Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba were met by Varsiani Gulzar and her husband Mr. Robert Muller. Varsiani Gulzar's five year old son, Mehdi, presented bouquets of enchanting pink roses to Begum Saheba and Hazar Imam.
On behalf of the Pakistan delegation, Vazir Amirali Fancy offered humble gift of a pair of gold cuff links to Hazar Imam and a diamond studded broach to Begum Saheba. They both graciously accepted the gifts and were indeed very pleased with them. Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba opened their individual gifts and admired them. Hazar Imam at once removed the links he was wearing and replaced them with the one presented by the delegates. This gracious thought and gesture of Hazar Imam meant immense happiness and satisfaction to the delegates and all those who were present. Other present at the dinner also offered their humble gifts to Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba.
The dining room was magnificiently decorated with multi-coloured flowers. The "T" shaped table provided excellent view of Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba to all the invitees. Throughout the dinner the conservation centred around the matters of general welfare and upliftment of Jamat. This amply shows Hazar Imam's immense love and care for the Jamat and their welfare.
After a sumptuous dinner, Vazir Amirali H. Fancy, on behalf of all those present, offered to Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba their heartiest felicitations on the occasion of their third Wedding Anniversary. During his speech, Vazir Fancy submitted that Jamats all over the world were extremely anxious to see our beloved Prince Rahim and Princess Zahra, and requested that if possible, Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba may kindly bring them along with them on their future visits to Jamats. He also mentioned that Hazar Imam was indeed working very hard for the Jamat and in fact was even devoting the month of February, which, at the instance of the Jamat, Hazar Imam had agreed to keep free for himself. Vazir Fancy said that the Jamat should make special effort to allow Hazar Imam to have that time free for himself and his family. At this remark, a smile twinkled on Begum Saheba's face. It was more than evident that she was indeed very happy at the thought.
Later, a beautifully decorated chocolate cake was presented to Begum Saheba, to celebrate the occasion. Incidentally, this particular cake is a favourite one of Hazar Imam and is made in a little pastry shop in the small town of "Luzarchez", not very far from "Lassy". This particular type of cake is known in that town as "Gateau d'la Aga". All those present were indeed fortunate to share a piece of this cake. After the cake cutting ceremony, Hazar Imam gave a brief speech, when the emphasis was once again on the importance and concept of changes that were being discussed for the institutions for the community and the need for more scientific and organized planning in all fields of Community's social and welfare activities.
After dinner, Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba once again talked to the guests. The memorable evening ended with group photographs taken with Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba to commemorate this auspicious occasion.
During the course of meetings, the Pakistan delegation made humble request to Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba to accept their invitation for dinner. Hazar Imam took the delegates by surprise by reversing the invitation.
Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba graciously arranged the dinner at their residence in "Chantilly" on Friday November 3, 1972, which incidentally, happened to be Juma-tul-wida'. Besides the delegates, Varasiani Gulzar Muller and Mr. Muller were also invited to the dinner. The guests were in for a pleasant surprise. When they all sat for dinner, they found a small sealed packet wrapped in their serviettes./ The red and green box contained a beautiful electronic watch, which was personally designed by Hazar Imam in his personal colours green and red. The hospitality and kindness of Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba, in the words of the delegates, was beyond any description. This will be the most memorable evening spent by the delegates with Hazar Imam and Begum Saheba.
At the concluding meeting on Sunday, November 5, 1972, Hazar Imam gave very special blessings to all the delegates for their hard work. Hazar Imam also gave loving blessings to all those who had directly or indirectly helped in the compilation and preparation of various lists of recommendations for gracious approval by Hazar Imam. He was indeed very pleased with the systematic presentation of the lists. Hazar Imam said that people who shall now be appointed in key positions shall carry tremendous responsibilities on their shoulders. For those retiring, Hazar Imam observed, they had devotedly served the Jamat for a long time and hoped that they would continue the tradition of voluntary service to Jamats, although they may not be directly involved in any of the institutions. Hazar Imam further mentioned that their responsibility to the Imam of the time and the Jamat would not cease on their retirement, in fact, the newly appointed members as well as those who were retiring would all stand equally responsible in discharging their obligations to the Imam, the Jamat and the Nation.
The memorable Paris meetings concluded on November 6, 1972.
It is the feeling of the delegates that the concept underlying the new changes would be a turning point in the history of Pakistan Jamat. The concept of organized social welfare work and participation of professional and qualified personnel, will now usher in an era of "Youth" in the service of Community. The potential of youth has been harnessed. It is now upto the new young leadership to produce effective and meaningful programmes for the upliftment of the Jamat in all sectors of its activities. The new talent will have to be converted into a productive force to fulfill the desires and aspirations of Hazar Imam and the Jamat. Hence, Sardinia- Paris meetings will remain memorable in the history of Pakistan Jamat.
We are confident that Pakistan Jamat will join us in voicing our grateful thanks to our beloved Hazar Imam for his most gracious and benevolent guidance given and blessings bestowed on us from time to time.
Source: Ismaili Mirror
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