Seventeen days in the month of November 1987 were days of great rejoicing for the Jamats of Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Northern Areas and Chitral, for they had their beloved Imam in their midst. Preparations to make this visit as happy, comfortable and memorable as possible were underway weeks before Mawlana Hazar Imam's arrival. The devotion and zeal with which members of the Jamat, both young and old, men or women, prepared for this visit cannot be expressed in words.
Many members of the Jamat from Karachi gave of their time, effort, money and ideas in arranging and ensuring the smooth running of various programmes. Their contribution, very often under difficult conditons is highly commendable.
In order for the reader to appreciate and enjoy the details of this recent visit of Mawlana Hazar Imam to the Northern parts of Pakistan, this report highlights the events and programmes that were organized.
14TH NOVEMBER 1987 (ISLAMABAD)
Mowlana Hazar Imam was accorded a warm welcome when he arrived in Islamabad on 14th November. He was received at the airport by the President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Federal Ministers, Members of Parliament, elite of the city, leaders of the Jamat were also present to welcome Mawlana Hazar Imam.
In the evening, the Federal Minister for Commerce, Planning and Development, Dr. Mahbubal Haq called on Mawlana Hazar Imam at the State Guest House. During the hour-long meeting, development programmes being implemented in the Northern Areas and Chitral including the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme were discussed.
15TH NOVEMBER 1987
Mawlana Hazar Imam met the Heads of all the institutions in a meeting at Islamabad where past and future activities of these institutions with regard to improving the quality of life of Ismailis in Northern Areas and Chitral were discussed at length. Late in the day, Mawlana Hazar Imam called on the President, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq at the Presidency. During the meeting the progress and prospects of the projects being run by the Aga Khan Foundation were discussed. Also present on this occasion were the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zain Noorani and Secretary, Foreign Affairs, Abdul Sattar.
This meeting was followed by a dinner hosted by the President of Pakistan in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam. The dinner was also attended by the Chairman of the Senate, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Federal Minister for Industries, Choudhry Shujaat Hussain, Federal Ministerfor Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas, Syed Qasim Shah and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zain Noorani, Diplomats, prominent citizens, civil and military officials and prominent leaders of the Jamats were also present.
16TH - 17TH NOVEMBER 1987
No occasion has ever been of great rejoicing for the people of Chitral than the presence of our beloved Imam Shah Karim Al-Husayni amongst them.
Pir Nasir Khusraw, the appointed Hujjat-e-Khorasan in the 11th Century was sent by Imam Mustansirbillah-I to spend the Ismaili dawa in Khorasan and Badakshan. The Ismaili Dawa then spread from Chitral to other valleys of the North. Since then, Ismailis have remained staunch in their Imam inspite of not having the physical "Deedar" of an Imam of the time for a long time. The first Imam to ever visit Chitral was our 49th Imam, Shah Karim Al-Husayni Hazar Imam in 1976.
The deep love and devotion the Chitral Jamat has for Mawlana Hazar Imam was demonstrated during his memorable visit to Chitral on 16th and 17th November 1987.
Mawlana Hazar Imam was given a warm welcome at Chitral Airport by the Advisor to Chief Minister NWFP, Mr. Saeed Ahmed Khan, Shahzada Mohiuddin, MNA, MPAS, Officials of the district administration and leaders of the Jamat.
Mawlana Hazar Imam during this visit met Ismailis at five places, namely Garamchashma, Susam, Shotkhar, Brep and Booni. At all these places, excellent arrangements were made and Ismailis in whatever capacity had worked day and night to make this visit a real success. In the heart of every Ismaili was the premost concern to do all he could to make our Mawla happy.
Even school children gave their share of participation by climbing high mountains and beautifully inscribing words of welcome for their Mawla.
An interesting sight at Garamchashma is worth mentioning. Along the one-mile road from the pendal to the place where a lunch was organized for Mawlana Hazar Imam 49 gaily decorated gates signifying the line of our 49 Imams were built by the Ismailis of various villages of the area.
AGA KHAN RURAL SUPPORT PROGRAMMES IN CHITRAL
AKSRP (funded by Aga Khan Foundation) which began in 1982 is intended as a catalyst to develop an innovative and replicable model for Rural Development. Its primary objective is to help improve the income-generating ability of the people by organizing small farmers into self-sustaining development organizations capable of defining collective needs and obtaining credit for local development efforts through village-based savings and loan programmes. AKRSP obtains initial cooperation from villagers by encouraging a series of dialogues to identify one physical infrastructure project to be carried out by the villagers themselves with technical and financial assistance from AKRSP. One of the conditions of the initial partnership between AKRSP and the village organization is that the members elect officers, hold frequent meetings, begin saving to establish village credit, and identify and appoint representatives to attend training courses organized by AKRSP.
On 16th November, immediately after Mawlana Hazar Imam's arrival in Chitral, he left for Shoghor by helicopter. There he met representatives of 84 village organizations of Garamchashma and Karimabad Vallerys. Mawlana Hazar Imam inspected a project of AKRSP, a 1,640 feet long and 10 feet high protection bund which has contributed to the reclamation of land and which will consequently double the existing land holdings of each household in Shoghor village.
On the 17th November, Mawlana Hazar Imam visited Marthing and Bombagh where he met the representatives of village organizations of the area and inspected the irrigation channels at both these places. He deeply appreciated the work done by the people. These irrigation channels will help in developing large areas of cultivable land in the years to come.
Mawlana Hazar Imam was very happy with the progress made by villagers and emphasized on the importance of unity and organization. He was very pleased to see village organizations managing agricultural machinery pools which include tractors and was also very happy to learn of the substantial savings made by village organizations.
Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed the hope that in due course, diversification of activities from the economic field to the social sector may be possible.
"It is my hope that in the years ahead the village organizations will be able to extend their knowledge, their wisdom, their understanding of the area, to domains of endeavour, which are also important to the quality of life in the Northern Areas. And I refer to health, to education, to housing. These are all areas where Inshallah as the village organizations get stronger, they will be capable of assisting you to improve the quality of health, the quality of education, the quality of housing in the Northern areas so that future generations can benefit from a total improvement in the quality of their life."
Mawlana Hazar Imam laid the foundation of the Booni Hostel, a project of the AKES (Agakhan Education Services). He in his speech mentioned that the hostel was a mile stone in AKES activities in Chitral. The selection of the students, he said, must be on the basis of merit. Referring to the architecture of the hostel the Imam said that the building would reflect the culture of the region. As for the role of the hostel, the Imam said that it would be more than providing mere shelter. It will instil values of responsibilities and enable young women to enter the noble profession of teaching, the Imam emphasized.
In Susum, Mawlana Hazar Imam desired to see the Health Centre where he met the lady health visitors who have left their homes and conforts of city life just to serve our spiritual brothers and sisters in the North. Mawla was very happy to see their good work and bestowed his blessings.
Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously visited the waezeen reference library at the Tariqah Board's Booni Unit.
In the students Malaqat, both in Chitral and the Northern Areas, Mawlana Hazar Imam stressed on education being a unique opportunity which should not be treated lightly or ignored. He said that education opportunities are unique at the student's age because when older, family and professional responsibilities would not make it possible to spend time on education. Mawlana Hazar Imam advised that education should not be just for the sake of education. If a degree does not help an individual in his life, his family, Jamat and country then he is living in an ivory tower, because that degree serves no purpose.
Mawlana Hazar Imam stressed that students select courses which are useful in the Northern Areas and he outlined opportunities in agricultural development, agro-industry, service industries, tourism, banking, insurance, teaching,management and health care.
Mawlana Hazar Imam cautioned the students to be wise, intelligent and foresighted in preparing for their future. Happiness, professional satisfaction, a decent level of income and an opportunity to serve the Jamat in Northern Areas and Chitral must be considerations in selecting careers.
Mawlana Hazar Imam strongly stressed that Northern Areas and Chitral have tremendous opportunities and that students on completion of their studies must return to their homes. He was convinced that there will be further economic growth, good health conditions and a quality of life bringing happiness in the Northern Areas and Chitral.
Mawlana Hazar Imam's other engagements in Chitral included meeting a delegation of leaders of sister communities and also attending a Dinner organized by the Commissioner.
18TH - 21ST NOVEMBER 1987 (NORTHERN AREAS)
Mawlana Hazar Imam spent four happy days in the Northern Areas where he met Jamats at 7 places, namely, Phander, Passu, Yasin, Chatorkhand, Singal, Karimabad, (Hunza) and Gilgit. Here again he was very happy with the arrangements and decoration made by the Jamats.
The discipline at the pendals as incredible and the religious fervour prevailing cannot be described in mere words. The pendals, physically surrounded by snow covered high mountains with the badges of welcome on their chests were the places of spiritual serenity where the long painful thirst of the Murids was quenched with the blessed rain of love and affection showered on them by the Imam of the time.
Mawlana Hazar Imam inaugurated the Aga Khan Academy (for girls) at Karimabad (Hunza) for which he had laid the foundation stone in 1983 on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee. The Academy has been built at a cost of Rs.13 million, the land being provided by the local people. The school took its first students selected on the basis of merit and academic performance in 1986. The hostel facilities of the Academy will provide residential accommodation for 80 boarders.
In his address, Mawlana Hazar Imam said that the young women qualifying from the Aga Khan Academy should aspire to a variety of careers in areas such as teaching and health care. Here too, he stressed on merit being the criteria for admission and that on completion of their studies, the young women would be able to get entrance to higher education in universities. He stressed the need of setting up new standards of education in the Northern Areas, where there is a scarcity of resources and trained manpower.
Mawlana Hazar Imam also underlined the need of bringing about a happy change in the life style of the people and said that AKRSP is now being widely appreciated by the people. He noted with happiness that the forces of change were proving more powerful than the mountains and the people through their united efforts were building roads, irrigation channels, schools and health units on a self-help basis.
VISIT TO AKRSP PROJECTS IN NORTHERN AREAS
On November 20, 1987, Mawlana Hazar Imam attended a convention in Gilgit which was attended by representatives of various village organizations of AKRSP. In his address Mawlana Hazar Imam lauded the efforts of AKRSP and urged the rural masses to pool their resources and skills for the attainment of self-sufficiency, for that is the pre-requisite for any kind of development. He said that a visible change was being noticed in all walks of life which was the logical outcome of efforts of the Government of Pakistan and its close coordination with other international agencies.
Mawlana Hazar Imam also visited village organizations at a number of places where he was happy to see personally the results of the effort put in by village organizations. Some of these places include Soust, Khyber, Barkulti, Brochal and Teru.
At Soust, Khyber and Brochal, Mawlana Hazar Imam examined the irrigation channels which the local people had constructed by digging vertically standing rocks of the Karakoram mountains and making tunnels to increase the area of cultivable land. In Soust alone, some 10,000 imported apple sapplings which have a longer shelf-life and can be transported over long distances have been planted. Mawlana Hazar Imam was also very happy to see samples of displayed carrots, cabbage, turnips etc. which had been harvested from the new land.
At Barkulti, Mawlana Hazar Imam evinced keen interest in the exotic animals provided by AKRSP in colloboration with Hiefer International of USA. These animals gave 4-5 times more milk than the local animals.
At Teru, Mawlana Hazar Imam desired to personally see the channel and walked up the vertical path that led to it. He expressed deep happiness and appreciated the workmanship.
Mawlana Hazar Imam was very impressed to view from the helicoptor, the Shimshal road which in under construction. Shimshal is situated in a very remote part of the Northern Areas and initially the building of this road was considered beyong the competence of the village organization by AKRSP. The return journey from Passu to Shimshal used to take six days, now it takes four days and when the road is complete, it should not take more than three hours!
Mawlana Hazar Imam attended various lunches and dinners hosted in his honour by notables of the area.
For Mawlana Hazar Imam this visit to Chitral and the Northern Areas was one of the most important and one of the happiest ones. He was able to physically see the progress made by the various Institutions and by the people themselves in improving the quality of life. On the evening of the 21st November, Mawlana Hazar Imam departed for Islamabad.
21ST NOVEMBER 1987 (ISLAMABAD)
Mawlana Hazar Imam called on the Prime Minister Mr. Mohammad Khan Junejo at the Prime Minister House, where they discussed the progress and prospects of the projects of the Aga Khan Foundation. Later on, the Prime Minister hosted a dinner in honour of Mowlana Hazar Imam which was also attended by distinguished guests.
22ND - 23RD NOVEMBER 1987
Mawlana Hazar Imam spent two days in Islamabad where he met the Jamats. Mawlana Hazar Imam was very happy with the progress made by Jamats since his previous visit. During his stay in Islamabad, Mawlana Hazar Imam met Kurt Waldheim, the President of Austria and the former Secretary General of the United Nations who was also on a visit to Pakistan.
24TH - 26TH NOVEMBER 1987 (LAHORE)
Mawlana Hazar Imam was received at Lahore Airport on the 24th November by the Governor of Punjab, Makhdoom Sajjad Hussain Qureshi, Punjab Chief Minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Provincial Ministers, high-ranking officials, distinguished people of the city and leaders of the Jamat. Later in the day, Mawlana Hazar Imam called on Makhdoom Sajjad Hussain at the Governor House. This meeting was followed by a dinner hosted by the Governor in honour of Mawlana Hazar Imam which was also attended by the Chief Justice and Judges of the Lahore High Court, etc.
Mawlana Hazar Imam graciously blessed the Jamat of Punjab and also met the student Jamat. Mawlana Hazar Imam also attended a lunch and dinner hosted by the Governor of Punjab and Punjab Chief Minister. In response Mawlana Hazar Imam reciprocated by hosting a dinner in honour of the Governor of Punjab. On the 27th November, Mawlana Hazar left to meet the Jamat in Multan.
27TH NOVEMBER 1987 (MULTAN)
In Multan, besides giving Deedar to the Jamats, Mawlana Hazar Imam also visited the Mausoleum of Hazrat Rukn-i-Alam which was awarded the Aga Khan Islamic Architecture Award. In Multan, Mawlana Hazar Imam urged parents who have been blessed with children to protect them from ill health and to bring them up with good health. Mawlana Hazar Imam also visited the site for the new Karimabad Colony which is to be built in the near future.
28TH NOVEMBER 1987 (FAISALABAD)
On the 28th November, President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq inaugurated in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam the Serena Hotel in Faisalabad. Prince Amyn Muhammad was also present on this occasion. The Faisalabad Serena Hotel is the latest addition to the Serena group of Hotels and Lodges operated by Tourism Promotion Services (TPS), the tourism arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development. This Fund was established by Mawlana Hazar Imam in 1984 to plan and implement private sector industrial and tourism projects aimed at promoting long term development in the third world. A second new Serena Hotel at Quetta is scheduled to be completed in May 1988.
Speaking on the occasion, President Zia said that the Government was making serious efforts to open up the beautiful areas in the country for local and foreign tourists by providing requisite infrastructural facilities.
He said tourism was not only a source of foreign exchange earning, but also necessary to introduce tourists to all parts and the people of the country to create unity of thought and national cohesion. By encouraging local people to tour other parts of their homeland, fraternal feelings for one another would be further promoted.
The President observed that with the opening of tourism centres in various parts of Pakistan new job opportunities would be created, and small cottage and handicraft industry would flourish.
He said the Northern Areas of Pakistan were scenic and would be more attractive to local as well as foreign tourists if communication and accommodation were made available to them. He eulogised the efforts of the Mawlana Hazar Imam for the promotion of tourism in Pakistan, besides its other development activities. He was glad to know that the Foundation is improving the present accommodation facilities in Swat and Gilgit and intended to upgrade them to the hotel level.
The President asked the Ministers for Tourism and Culture and the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation to build roads and provide accommodation in the beautiful Northern Areas, a paradise on earth.
The President said the Pakistan Government had joined with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development in order to set up the Serena Hotel in the third largest city of Pakistan known as the Manchester of Pakistan for its textiles. He added that this hotel was a jewel on the head of Faisalabad and depicted local cultural, social and artistic traditions with first class international standard.
He said lakhs of people were benifitting from the development and welfare projects undertaken by the Aga Khan Foundation. He added that the grandfather of Prince Karim Aga Khan, Sir Sultan Mohammad Shah Aga Khan, had played a great role in the Pakistan Movement.
Speaking on the occasion, Mawlana Hazar Imam said the Faisalabad Serena Hotel was a physical expression of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, a financial institution whose central purpose is to promote diversified economic progress in the countries of the Third World.
He said under this fund financial assistance was being provided to Pakistan in different hotels and in other projects.
He hoped that after the construction of hotels in various parts of the country, the economic conditions would improve and tourists from all over the world could see the beauty of this country.
He stressed the need for preserving Pakistan's rich cultural heritage.
He said that opening of this hotel in Faisalabad would contribute to the economic and social uplift of this area.
He thanked the President for inaugurating the hotel in this beautiful city renowned for its rich cultural heritage and whose continuing growth is so impressive.
He said he was encouraged to build first class hotel outside Pakistan's principal cities through the help and assistance of President Zia.
He observed there is increasing interest in the world's faiths and cultures, and he believed that Pakistan has much to offer which is unique and of profound and genuine interest for those who wish to learn about and see at first hand the cultural legacies which have been left here to succeeding generations. He said one needs to think only of historic city of Lahore, the vernacular architecture of the Northern Areas, or archaelogical sites of Sind, to know that Pakistan is well placed to attract visitors who wish to travel through the world to learn more about man's culture. He added it is vital to remember that these wonderful assets are fragile and can be destroyed in the name of modernity or allowed to disintegrate through oversight.
Prince Amyn in his welcome address, observed that the Serena concept implies particular respect for local culture as well as local social and artistic tradition. He said our efforts were that our guests should perceive, at all times, local traditons, habits and life style.
He said it is our ambition that this hotel should fill a gap that has existed for too long in the hotel accommodation of Faisalabad. His disclosed that besides other services this hotel provided jobs for three hundred people. He stated that the Faisalabad Serena should become a hub of local social, cultural and even sporting life.
Before departing for Islamabad on the same day, Mawlana Hazar Imam attended a lunch hosted in his honour by the Minister of Tourism and Culture.
28TH - 30TH NOVEMBER 1987 (ISLAMABAD)
Mawlana Hazar Imam remained busy in meetings with the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University Hospital on the 29th and 30th.
On the 29th November Mawlana Hazar Imam hosted a lunch in honour of President Zia-ul-Haq.
After an eventful visit Mawlana Hazar Imam left Pakistan with great happiness on the 30th November. It is not long to go for Mawlana Hazar Imam to return to Pakistan to meet his spiritual children in Karachi and Hyderabad whose eagerness and happiness know no bounds.
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