Nation special report
LONDON: Expressing his great affiliation and affection to Pakistan, the Ismaili spiritual leader and hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims Prince Karim Agha Khan has said that his community and the Aga Khan Development Network have strong ties with Pakistan, and the Ismaili Imamat is deeply committed to the future of the people of this country.
He expressed these fondness sentiments while addressing the 65th annual dinner hosted at Dorchester Hotel by the Pakistan Society here on Thursday (25th October). Prince Karim Aga Khan, who this year celebrated his Diamond Jubilee as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, said:“It is a great pleasure for me to attend this year’s Pakistan Society dinner, having attended previously in 1962 and in 2003”.
Founded in 1951 and based in London, The Pakistan Society aims to increase public knowledge in Britain of the arts, history, geography, economic life and institutions of Pakistan. Its patrons are Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The Pakistan Society Award for 2018 was presented at the dinner to Shoaib Sultan Khan. Sir Nicholas Barrington KCMG CVO, Honorary Vice President of the Pakistan Society in the citation address said that the award is being given to Shoaib Sultan Khan “an internationally renowned authority on rural development and alleviation of poverty, who pioneered schemes in the Northern Areas of Pakistan in association with the Aga Khan Foundation.”
On this occasion, President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi as a Co-Patron of the Society said in a special message that he would like to appreciate the work carried out by the Pakistan Society and its members. The society has played an excellent role promoting Pakistan’s culture and heritage in the United Kingdom and in developing people-to- people contacts between our two nations. “Our cordial relations are anchored in history, democratic values as well as in a broad based partnership in the political, economic and cultural spheres. I hope that we will build upon the bonds of friendship in the years to come. I am confident that the Pakistan Society will continue to play a proactive role in bringing the people of our two countries closer. I wish the Pakistan Society every success in pursuit of its objectives,” he said.
Addressing the event, the Acting High Commissioner Muhammad Ayub said; “We are very delighted to have among us His Highness, The Aga Khan. His presence, indeed, is recognition of the good work of The Pakistan Society. The Pakistan-UK relations are historical and are translating into economic and trade ties. It would be beneficial if the Society could play its role in introducing economic opportunities in Pakistan and bringing foreign investment in the country. Similarly, the Society can use its platform effectively to raise awareness about water scarcity in Pakistan and help generate funds for building dams in the country.”
Sir Adam Thomson KCMG, Director of the European Leadership Network, a former British High Commissioner to Pakistan and UK Permanent Representative to NATO in his address said: “I believe that only deeper democracy can in the long run deliver the steady improvements to governance that Pakistan needs…..we can and should contribute to improving governance in Pakistan by doing all we can to support Pakistan’s civil society.”
The Chairman of the Pakistan Society, Sir William Blackburne in his address said: “His Highness the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III, in 1957 as 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. In July this year, His Highness completed the Diamond Jubilee year of his Imamat. Over the last 60 years, His Highness has dedicated his efforts to improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable in society, while emphasising the view of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith that teaches compassion and tolerance and seeks to uphold human dignity. It is with the greatest pleasure that the Pakistan Society welcomes His Highness to this year’s Annual Dinner.
The Pakistan Society, now in its 67th year exists to spread the message in the UK that Pakistan is a wonderful and exciting place with rich cultural traditions and much to offer the wider world.”