AT Monitoring Desk
KABUL: Aga Khan, on behalf of the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), on November 24 reaffirmed his enduring commitment to a peaceful and pluralistic Afghanistan, according to the AKDN.
In a statement delivered at the virtually held 2020 Afghanistan Conference, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and Chairman of the AKDN, noted that as the country entered into a new period of transition, it would need the contribution of all of its people to address their common challenges: rising poverty, climate disruption, an unforgiving pandemic.
“It will need all their talents to build an inclusive future with more opportunities, requiring more education, more knowledge, more private initiative. In these endeavors, AKDN is, and will remain, a steadfast partner,” said the Aga Khan, emphasizing that AKDN will maintain the breadth of its work in all sectors from education, healthcare and cultural restoration, as well as in economic development.
“During our 25 years in Afghanistan, AKDN has been guided by a fundamental belief that the key to the country’s future is in a vibrant, meritocratic, pluralistic civil society – in the Afghan people and in long-term institutions anchoring their contributions to the common good,” he said.
This year’s conference was organized by the Governments of Afghanistan and Finland, and the United Nations, and was held virtually on November 23-24. Over 70 countries, international organizations, and agencies attended the conference which built on previous ones held in Brussels in 2016, and Tokyo in 2012. The aim of the conference was to commit the Afghan government and the international community to shared development objectives for 2021-24.
AKDN’s involvement in Afghanistan dates back to 1996 when it started distributing food aid during the country’s civil war. Since 2002, the AKDN and its partners have committed over US $1billion in development assistance to the country. The Network’s integrated approach combines economic, social, and cultural inputs. Its economic projects span over 240 cities and towns in the country’s 34 provinces, while its social development and humanitarian work directly covers eight provinces, and 19 provinces through consortia and partnerships, some 4 million people. It manages the health care for Bamyan and Badakhshan under Sehatmandi. Its cultural programs, which operate in Kabul, Herat, Balkh, and Badakhshan, have restored over 150 heritage sites.
This commitment has strengthened through the years, through formal partnerships with the Afghan government, significant joint investments into Afghan companies, and national and regional development programs in partnership with international actors and donors.