Latest News on Prince Rahim Aga Khan’s Visit to Mozambique, and for Navroz Photos of the Beautiful Headquarters and Westwinds Jamatkhanas in the Foothills of Canadian Rockies

The following are referral links to two new posts on Simerg’s sister websites Barakah and Simergphotos. Please click on them, read the posts and share them with your friends and relatives around the world.

Please click: Prince Rahim Aga Khan in Mozambique

Prince Rahim Aga Khan, Mozambique, Simerg
Please click on image for latest updates on Prince Rahim’s visit to Mozambique.


Please click: Navroz Mubarak — Two Beautiful Jamatkhanas in Calgary

Calgary Headquarters Jamatkhana, Simerg
Please click on image for Calgary Jamatkhanas

Date posted: March 19, 2021.


Afghanistan Update: Aga Khan Cultural Services Launches Social Media Pages to Monitor on Potential Dangers to Country’s Cultural Heritage

We invite you to read Melissa Gronlund’s report in the September 23 edition of The National on the news that Aga Khan Cultural Services (Afghanistan) has recently launched Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages that will be a repository of verified information on potential dangers to heritage landmarks in Afghanistan.

We produce, below, excerpts on the subject from the Facebook page of Aga Khan Culture Services Afghanistan, which is part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Photo: Aga Khan Cultural Services Facebook Page. Please click on image to read Melissa Gronlund’s report in The National.



16 September 2021, Gereshk, Helmand: “According to sources, local authorities approved the demolition of sections of the perimeter fortifications at the historic fortress in the city of Gereshk (origins dating back to the 8th century) using heavy machinery. The news was posted on social media and stated that the destruction paved the way for the construction of a new madrassa building.”

17 September 2021: “Following criticism by local inhabitants and on social media, the demolition was halted and Ahmadullah Wasiq, Deputy Head of the Taliban Cultural Commission, stated in an interview with Radio Azadi that “this is a historic fortress and is part of Afghanistan’s history and when news of its destruction reached the elders, it was stopped.”


15 September 2021, Kabul: Low and high ranking members of the Taliban frequently visit the Chihilsitoon garden in Kabul, the rehabilitation of which was funded by the German government, surrendering their weapons as required by garden operations. To date they have not imposed restrictions on who can visit the garden which includes large numbers of women and young girls.

For more news and other developments, please click Aga Khan Cultural Services – Afghanistan | Facebook.

Date posted: September 24, 2021.


We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Afghanistan Update: “We are Operational and We Will Do More” – Aga Khan Foundation Makes Inspiring Statement at Humanitarian Conference Convened by UNSG António Guterres in Geneva on September 13

Prepared and compiled by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

This post was updated multiple times during the day, beginning with the announcement and link to the live coverage of the UN Conference on Afghanistan held in Geneva. We now conclude this post with a recording as well as the full text of the statement that was delivered this morning at 10:30 AM by Michael Kocher of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) in response to the UN Secretary General’s worldwide appeal to support Afghanistan’s humanitarian needs. We regret that the first few words of the statement were not recorded. The event commenced at 8:00 AM and concluded at 1:45 PM (all times stated New York/Toronto EDT).

Featured photo at top of post: Michael Kocher, General Manager, Aga Khan Foundation, attending the Afghanistan humanitarian conference in Geneva, Palais des Nations, September 13, 2021. Photo: UN Photo/Violaine Martin.

Audio of Aga Khan Foundation Statement: AKDN Says it is Operational in Afghanistan and Asks World Community to Learn from its Experiences in the Country

Please listen to AKF Statement made at the Afghanistan High Level Ministerial Conference on September 13, 2021.


Important note from the editor: The content of the text produced below from the AKDN website is not the exact transcript of the speech that you heard Michael Kocher deliver. Participants to the conference were frequently reminded to limit their statements to 3 minutes, and the time taken to read the speech below would have taken at least a minute longer. The (revised) speech delivered by Mr. Kocher was compact and touched on all the points that are stated in the statement below.

Speech Delivered by Michael Kocher

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network are honoured and privileged to convey our abiding commitment to the peoples of Afghanistan.

This allegiance is enduring. It is founded on the most profound respect for Afghanistan’s many traditions and the bonds of our shared humanity. AKDN’s work and its aim of improving the quality of life of all communities it seeks to serve is premised on the ethical principles of Islam, which promote peace and harmony.

With that ideal in mind, we wish to thank the United Nations for convening the international community at this critical juncture in the country’s history.

For more than three decades, we have stood with the people of Afghanistan. We take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment, which remains unshaken.

During this time, and today, we listen to and support people at the community level to help them realise their individual and collective aspirations for a better life – coming together to find solutions that are sustainable, acceptable and deliverable.

In the process, AKDN has provided life-saving medical treatment and healthcare to millions of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers; helped educate hundreds of thousands of boys and girls; built rural infrastructure including roads, bridges, and irrigation canals; assisted families in improving household incomes; helped to preserve cultural heritage; strengthened community preparedness and resilience in the face of natural disaster and climate change; and brought connectivity and enhanced communications to many corners of the country.

Our experience teaches us that determined, transparent and inclusive engagement, led and driven by Afghans in their communities, can and does succeed. Indeed, it is the only method to bring real and lasting change.

That is a lesson we urge the international community to heed, and to act with compassion and foresight. For now is the time to engage, to stay in dialogue, and to continue on the path to mutual accommodation – to establish lasting peace, opportunity and prosperity.

Now is certainly not the time to turn our back on decades of progress. Or on the two-thirds of the country under the age of 25, a generation that has grown up under the shadow of war but with determined hopes of a better life. Their dreams and aspirations remain intact in Afghanistan, and we owe them the dignity – the promise – of standing together with them and their communities as they face the future.

For conditions are dire.

As we hear today, the economic situation in Afghanistan is bad and worsening. The banking system is non-functional. Rampant unemployment is increasing. Resources are desperately needed for food, medicine, education and other essential services. Healthcare facilities in many areas may close in a matter of days, in the midst of a pandemic. 18 million people are already in extreme need, with a similar number at risk. That suggests virtually the entire country could be without adequate healthcare, without enough food, and without sufficient livelihoods.

As a long-standing partner of Afghanistan and its people, we draw attention to the need for urgent, corresponding measures:

  • Restoring the banking system to facilitate international transfers, allowing much-needed financial support and access to markets;
  • Authorising direct support without delay to the providers of healthcare and education;
  • Arranging robust and inclusive food aid and work programmes to stave off desperation; and
  • Unblocking assistance already authorised for direct support to the Afghan population, providing relief today, as well as the tools and means to reduce dependency on such relief in the future.

We join others in underscoring that these measures be taken quickly and decisively if we are to avert a sustained crisis of shocking regionally-destabilising proportions. We urge here as well that the international community not abandon Afghanistan’s longer-term development, as the consequences of doing so would be profound.

Today we require collectively focused attention on the urgency of humanitarian action. Today and going forward, our actions must be meaningfully humane.

Thank you.


“The Taliban takeover must not mean the end of international aid to Afghanistan” — The Guardian, UK

“Time is of the essence if the immediate balance of payments crisis is not to balloon into a catastrophe. The Americans and Europeans must exploit every legal loophole to get aid into the country. In this they will find willing partners in those international NGOs that enjoy highest prestige among ordinary Afghans, and which, through judicious handling of Taliban officials in the country’s far-flung provinces, enjoy cooperative relationships with its new rulers.

“This is the kind of aid that works: projects like those of the Aga Khan Development Network, the Bangladeshi NGO Brac and the International Rescue Committee that pride themselves on assisting Afghans to meet their own demands – for piped water, for instance, a clinic for young mothers, or a fruit tree nursery – employing mainly locals, watchful of waste and corruption, and working with whoever is in power.” — Read Christopher de Bellaigue’s article in the Guardian


The Geneva Conference on Afghanistan

Earlier news (compiled from UN Press Release): United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called the international community to join him in Geneva, in person and virtually, on Monday September 13, 2021 to express solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and pledge tangible support to address their critical humanitarian needs.

Afghanistan’s children, women and men have faced decades of conflict and deprivation. Recent developments have increased their vulnerability. A severe drought is ruining the upcoming harvest and hunger is rising. The economy is grinding to a halt with cash in short supply. Concern for the rights of women and girls is rising. Afghans urgently need food, medicine, health services, safe water, sanitation, and protection.

UN agencies and non-governmental partners have launched a Flash Appeal seeking US$606 million for the remainder of the year to bring vital relief to 11 million people. International and Afghan humanitarian organizations are on the ground and can deliver in a rapidly changing context. They need fast and flexible funding and sustained access into and around Afghanistan. And all aid workers, including women, must be assured of their safety and freedom of movement. Swift action and support from the international community is vital to ensure humanitarians can rapidly provide basic and essential services for the Afghan people.

That is the objective of the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan.

The event and press conference will be webcast live on UN TV commencing at 8:00 AM New York time.

For further details on UN website click HERE.

Date posted: September 13, 2021
Last updated: September 13, 2021 (01:22 PM)


Afghanistan Update: Ismaili Drives For Afghan Refugees in Chicago Area Fill 4 Trucks With Resettlement Supplies

Ismaili CIVIC

This is an update to our recent post Ismaili CIVIC to Host Supply Drive For Afghan Refugees at 3 Chicago Jamatkhanas on September 4 which referred to an article by Tom Robb in Journal & Topics.

Tom Robb now reports in the September 8 edition of Journal & Topics that the drive on September 4 at the Jamatkhanas resulted in the donation of supplies that filled four large U-Haul trucks. Donors came through the Glenview Ismaili Jamatkhana alone at the rate of 25 to 30 cars per hour. To read Tom Robb’s report click HERE or on image below.

Ismaili CIVIC donation drive
Mountains of kitchen supplies, diapers, and other donated home goods, filling two long U-Haul trucks were collected at the Glenview Ismaili Jamatkhana and organized by Ismaili CIVIC volunteers for Afghan refugees Saturday, Sept. 4. Other donation sites made similar collections in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood and in Naperville. (Tom Robb/Journal photo). Click on photo for full story.

Date posted: September 8, 2021.


We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Afghanistan Update: Aga Khan Trust for Culture Resumes Work in Kabul; Ismaili CIVIC to Host Supply Drive For Afghan Refugees at 3 Chicago Jamatkhanas

Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Philip Kennicott, art and architecture critic of The Washington Post, reports in the paper’s August 30, 2021 edition that The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in Afghanistan which was closed for about a week after the Taliban took over Kabul, has restarted some long-running projects, including a major restoration and development project of historical buildings along the Kabul River that employs some 900 people. “We are cautiously optimistic,” said Ajmal Maiwandi, who heads AKTC in Afghanistan. That optimism is based on promises the Taliban has made and, so far, mostly kept to respect historical and cultural heritage sites, and on their recent behavior in Kabul. “There were a lot of doomsday scenarios prior to the events of the last 10 days, but the most drastic of those predictions have not materialized,” Ajmal told the Post…. Please read full Washington Post story Artists and cultural workers face life under Taliban


Ismaili CIVIC

In a story dated August 31, 2021, Tom Robb reports in the on-line edition of Journal and Topics that members of the Ismaili CIVIC organization will host a supply donation drive-thru on Saturday September 4 to create welcome kits for Afghan refugees at three locations: Glenview Jamatkhana at 100 Shermer Rd., the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Chicago’s North Side Edgewater neighborhood, and the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Naperville….. To read Tom Robb’s report click HERE or on image below.

A view of the Glenview Ismaili Jamatkhana in the Chicago area.
A view of the Glenview Jamatkhana in the Chicago area, one of three Ismaili Jamatkhana locations to host donation for refugees from Afghanistan on Saturday September 4, 2021. Please click on image for story.

Date posted: September 2, 2021.
Last updated: September 3, 2021 (link to Washington Post article added, see top).


We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Afghanistan Update: Ismaili CIVIC Volunteers Join Local Organizations in Cedar Park, Texas, to Support Refugees

Dozens of cars lined up outside the Ismaili Jamatkhana to show support for the hundreds of Afghan refugees who are about to call Central Texas their new home. Local organizations are making sure refugee families have what they need when they arrive….Click HERE or on image below to see video and read report by Ricardo Lewis on CBS Austin.

Ismaili Humanitarian Supply Drive
Dozens of volunteers with Ismaili CIVIC along with other local organizations hosted a humanitarian supply drive to collect donations from hygiene to school supplies. Photo: Extracted from CBS Austin Video Report. Click on image for complete text and video report by Ricardo Lewis.

Date posted: August 30, 2021.


We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Taliban Takeover: (1) Advisory from Ismaili Institutions Says Majority of Jamati Members Safe and Continuing with Normal Life; and (2) Afghanistan Helpline Set Up

Introduced and compiled By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simerg Photos


An advisory posted in English and Farsi on the official website of the Ismaili community on the latest situation in Afghanistan, says that there are very few civilian casualties involving members of the Jamat, and the majority of them are safe and continuing with normal life. The advisory notes that the Jamat has been advised to remain calm, and not give in to panicked reactions, and that Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is giving constant guidance and direction to the Jamati leadership in addressing the developments that are taking place in the country.

The advisory asks each family to remain in charge of their homes and dwellings wherever they are located. It also notes that Ismaili and AKDN institutions remain safe, and have not come under any undue pressures, and that in accordance with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance, all our institutions continue to operate as normal.

In an earlier post, that will continue to be updated with reliable information as well as analysis from external non-Jamati sources, we referred to an article that appeared in the on-line edition of Coquitlam’s Tricity News in which Malik Malikzada had mentioned to the newspaper’s reporter, after having spoken to his cousin living in Kabul, that Ismailis in Afghanistan Were Asked to Stay Home and not Panic. That piece of news brought immense relief to us at Simerg as well as our readers from around the world, and we are now pleased to note the official institutional statement in this regard.

Afghanistan Helpline

Al-Saha the communications newsletter of the UK Ismaili National Council has released the following statement in its latest issue (Please read official web version HERE):

“As the unfolding situation in Afghanistan continues to be of concern, the UK and Europe Helpline has been extended for any member of the Jamat that has any concerns or questions. If you live in the UK or Europe, please call the Helpline on 0208 191 0911, Option 2, or email in the first instance. If you have any friends or family that live in Afghanistan who require help and support, please advise them to contact the Afghanistan National Council on +93793014401.

“The Jamat is advised to be vigilant about recent possibly fraudulent activity pertaining to the current crisis in Afghanistan. Please be cautious of fundraising campaigns claiming to support Afghans in need or other advertised services promising to speed immigration processes from Afghanistan. Some of these schemes may be fraudulent and illegal. The Jamati Institutions are working together to support the Jamat. Please direct contributions to FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance via the website ……. if you wish to support those who have been affected by crisis or displacement, including the Jamat in Afghanistan. Thank you for your continued support.”


We join Jamati members from around the world and pray for the safety and well-being of the Jamat in Afghanistan as well as the nation at large. We pray for a united Afghanistan in the days and months ahead.

Reader’s Feedback

Please read Comments Received and, if you wish, contribute your reflections, thoughts, insights and eye-witness accounts of the situation in Afghanistan. Names of contributors will be withheld on request, and Simerg and its sister websites never publish or reveal email addresses of individuals who provide feedback.

Date posted: August 20, 2021.
Last updated: August 21, 2021 (Afghanistan helpline section added).


We invite our readers to submit their reflections, thoughts and prayers on the situation in Afghanistan by completing the feedback form below or by clicking on Leave a comment.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

Taliban Takeover: Ismailis in Afghanistan Asked to Stay Home and not Panic

Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas
Credit: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas.

Introduced and Compiled by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simerg Photos

[Note: This post will be updated on a regular basis with news, feature articles and analysis as they pertain to the developments in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s swift takeover of the country – Ed.]

A former Ismaili refugee from Afghanistan, Malik Malikzada, who runs Jamila’s Kitchen and Grill in Coquitlam, one of 21 municipalities in Greater Vancouver, Canada, says he is fearful for some members of his family as his homeland is seized by the Taliban. But, he says, having spoken to a cousin in Afghanistan, the situation in Kabul is calm. Read complete report in Tricity News HERE or click on link/image shown at bottom of the post.

(with assessments of minority groups including the Ismailis)

(1) Marta Pascual Juanoala: The Taliban conquest of a thin strip of land could change Afghanistan, The Sydney Morning Herald (also, see map at top of post. The “thin strip” refers to the Wakhan Corridor, north-east on the map).

(2) Sam Dunning: China Is Moving on Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, (also, see map at top of post)

Readers may be able to access the articles listed above on a limited basis, otherwise registration and/or subscription is required. Dunning’s piece (2) contains some misinformation, when he mentions that Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, resides in Monaco.



August 28, 2021: Evacuee: World has ‘abandoned’ Afghanistan’s new generation (

August 27, 2021: Afghanistan’s top high school graduate fears for her future (

August 27, 2021: With hope of escape dashed, two Afghan women look to future under Taliban (Reuters)

August 27, 2021: Couple hopeful for children’s future after escape from Kabul (

August 27, 2021: Taliban planning ‘inclusive caretaker gov’t’ in Afghanistan (Al Jazeera)

August 23, 2021: Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage Faces Renewed Threats (Architectural Digest)

August 21, 2021: Afghan Taliban Commission Looking Into Pakistan’s Terror-Related Concerns (Voice of America).

August 21, 2021: Healthcare Needs Grow Amid Deepening Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan (Voice of America)

August 20, 2021: ‘No alternative to the Taliban’: Russia’s envoy to Afghanistan (Al Jazeera)

August 19, 2021: Taliban, Consolidating Power, Meet With Former Rivals (Voice of America)

August 19, 2021: UNESCO Appeals for Protection of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage (Voice of America)

August 18, 2021: As Taliban Take Over, US Governors Offer Afghans Refuge (Voice of America)

August 17, 2021: International Heritage and Culture Organisations Operating within Afghanistan Monitor Situation in Wake of Talibans’ Return to Power (The Art Newspaper)

August 17, 2021: Uganda will Host 2,000 Afghan Refugees at US Request (Voice of America)



0816-AfghanistandReactionFile 1w
Please click on image for article in Tricity News

Date posted: August 17, 2021.
Last updated: August 28, 2021.


Watch Live: University of Central Asia Convocation on UCA Website or on Ismaili TV

Note: This live event is now over. Please read Thematic Experts of Speech Made by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, will deliver a virtual address at the University of Central Asia’s first-ever convocation on Saturday June 19, 2021 that is expected to commence shortly (8AM Toronto Time).

Watch on UCA Website: Click HERE or on Image Below


Watch on Ismaili TV: Click HERE or on Image Below

The Ismaili TV – TV.Ismaili

Date posted: June 19, 2021.
Last updated: June 21, 2021 (see note at top).


President Uhuru Kenyatta Tells Universities to Invest In Training as He Grants Charter to the Aga Khan University; and Link to Excerpts from Hazar Imam’s Speech

The following report is reproduced from the website of the President of Kenya. Thematic excerpts of the virtual speech made by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, can be read at Simerg’s sister website Barakah, which is dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, members of his family and the Ismaili Imamat (please read Mawlana Hazar Imam Thematic Excerpts).

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta unveils a plaque on June 11, 2021, on the historic occasion of the Award of the Charter to the Aga Khan University. Photo: Aga Khan University.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta unveils a plaque on June 11, 2021, on the historic occasion of the Award of the Charter to the Aga Khan University. Photo: Aga Khan University.

June 11, 2021: President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked universities to invest in research and training that support Kenya’s new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

“The Competence-Based Curriculum is a revolutionary step we took as a country to provide our learners with twenty-first-century practical skills relevant to the needs of the present world,” the President said.

President Kenyatta, who spoke on Friday in Nairobi when he awarded a charter to the Aga Khan University-Kenya (AKU), also urged universities to concentrate on producing graduates who can tackle global challenges and make the world a better place.

The Head of State reminded Kenyan universities to ensure that they offer quality education.

“You must strive to remain compliant to both the programmatic and institutional standards set by our professional regulatory bodies such as the Commission for University Education,” President Kenyatta said.

At the same time, the President directed regulatory institutions in the education sector to execute their mandate fully in order to ensure the quality of university education is not compromised.

“Regulatory standards are not mere exercises in box-ticking.  They are the lifeblood of a vital process that ensures that learning delivers tangible results for both the learner as well as the nation,” the President emphasized.

On research, the President challenged universities to be at the forefront in providing solutions to emerging challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the event, President Kenyatta also inaugurated the Aga Khan University’s new Kshs 5 billion ultra-modern building. The building will be the university’s main campus in Kenya, housing its graduate school of Media and Communications, Medical College, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Institute for Human Development as well as the Brain and Mind Institute among other programmes.

His Highness the Aga Khan, who is the Chancellor of the Aga Khan University, addressed the occasion via video link, saying the awarding of charter to AKU is a vote of confidence in the university.

He thanked President Kenyatta’s leadership for creating an enabling environment that has allowed private universities in Kenya to flourish.

Education CS Prof George Magoha, Commission for University Education (CUE) Chairman Prof Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha, CUE Secretary Prof Mwenda Ntarangwi as well as the Aga Khan University’s Vice Chancellor Dr Firoz Rasul spoke during the occasion.

With the award of the charter, the Aga Khan University becomes Kenya’s 21st private chartered university.

Date posted: June 11, 2021.

Please also click Mawlana Hazar Imam Thematic Excerpts.


Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.