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December 7, 2017



The Aga Khan Development Network

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan. It is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The network’s agencies focus on economic and social development, and cultural initiatives, for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. It operates in 30 countries around the world, employing 80,000 people, and has an annual budget for its social activities exceeding US $900 million.
The AKDN has had a longstanding presence in the country, going back to 1905 when the first Aga Khan School was established in Gwadar, Balochistan. It set up its first non-profit school in 1905 in Gwadar, Balochistan. Today, through the 160 schools of the Aga Khan Education Services and through the teacher training and school improvement programmes of the Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan Foundation, it has reached tens of thousands of teachers and millions of students. It has provided the nation with thousands of doctors, nurses and midwives. These medical professionals are now serving throughout Pakistan. The AKDN also operates an array of medical facilities that provide quality healthcare services to 1.8 million people throughout a year Pakistan.
The AKDN has also planted over 30 million trees—much of it for fuel, fodder and construction. It has built smoke-free stoves that reduce respiratory ailments and simultaneously cut fuelwood consumption by 50 per cent. It provides electricity to about 40,000 households through 333 micro-hydroelectric projects. It has prepared communities for disasters through 172 community emergency response teams and 36,000 trained volunteers. It has created safe, prize-winning drinking water and sanitation facilities for over 500,000

people. It provides financial services for millions of Pakistanis, including micro-insurance for healthcare. At the same time, it has worked to preserve Pakistan’s rich heritage by restoring over 170 historic settlements, forts, houses and monuments, ranging from the Wazir Khan Mosque Complex in Lahore to the Khaplu Village and Palace in Baltistan.
In all its endeavours in Pakistan and around the world, the AKDN has tried to create a critical mass of integrated development activities that offer people—in a given area—not only a rise in income, but a broad, sustained improvement in the overall quality of life. It encourages self-reliance and a long-term view of development. In fact, many areas that received the AKDN support in the past have well-educated communities that are now masters of their own development, building their own schools and health centres and taking other measures to care for themselves and those less fortunate.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) focuses on the physical, social, cultural and economic revitalisation of communities in the developing world. It comprises the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, the Aga Khan Music Initiative, the on-line resource and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.
Founded in 1988, the AKTC is an integral part of the AKDN, a family of institutions created by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, with distinct yet complementary mandates to improve the welfare and prospects of people in countries in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa.
The AKTC seeks to leverage the unique transformative power of culture to improve socio-economic conditions of communities that have a rich cultural heritage, but inadequate resources. The AKTC’s model is based on utilising cultural assets as catalysts for economic development, restoring pride and improving the quality of life. The Aga Khan has placed significant importance on preserving culture and its impact on the socio-economic development of societies and nations.
The AKTC’s experience of ‘culture in development’ has received meaningful support and facilitation through dynamic public-private partnerships, especially in Gilgit-Baltistan and Lahore.
The AKTC became active in northern Pakistan in 1989 in response to concerns that the unique culture of the area was under threat due to developments that followed the completion of the Karakoram Highway in 1978. The conservation of the 700-year-old Baltit Fort, and the historic settlements of Karimabad in the Hunza Valley were the first major interventions of Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP), completed in 1996 through AKTC’s country affiliate, the Aga Khan Cultural Service-Pakistan (AKCSP).
The forts in Baltit and Altit in Hunza have been converted into local history museums and cultural centres while the Shigar Fort and Khaplu Palace Residence in Baltistan have been restored to serve as hotels, generating employment for the local communities. In Altit, the Leif Larsen Music Centre was established to facilitate local musicians and document the musical traditions of Hunza and neighbouring valleys.
The impact of the conservation of landmark monuments has since fostered an awareness of traditional construction techniques. In 2009, the AKCSP helped design and construct the Shigar Abruzzi School, the first purpose-built structure using traditional materials of timber and stone. A similar community-built project was the new Jamia Masjid Shigar, also built in a traditional style.
The AKTC made technical contributions to a World Bank-funded area development “pilot”, the Shahi Guzargah Project in the Walled City of Lahore, in 2006. This led to the signing of a public-private partnership framework agreement with the Government of Punjab in 2007.
The first phase of the Shahi Guzargah Project, completed in 2014, comprised design and infrastructure improvement, and the documentation of major Mughal period monuments. Additionally, an integrated project, partly supported by the German Foreign Ministry, was initiated for the conservation of 12 historic homes in Gali Surjan Singh. These efforts established design standards for both infrastructure and architecture that the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) is now replicating in the rest of the project area.
In June 2015, the conservation of the 17th century Shahi Hammam, a public bathhouse in Delhi Gate, was completed. The 1,000 square metre complex was rehabilitated over a period of two years and included conservation and display of the original waterworks, drainage and heating networks. Managed by WCLA, the hammam now serves as a museum.
The comprehensive documentation of the Wazir Khan Mosque was the basis for the conservation of the 85-metre long north façade of the Mosque in 2016. In addition, rehabilitation of the Chowk Wazir Khan, the 800 square metre historical forecourt to the mosque, was completed in August this year with co-funding from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.
The AKTC has received the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation every year from 2002 to 2014, and again in 2016. In addition, the AKTC has won other prestigious awards, including Time Magazine Asia: Best of Asia Award, British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award and the Responsible Tourism Award. These international awards are recognition of the quality of conservation work done by the AKTC, and are indicative of the splendid heritage of Pakistan.