Visit new blog “All things Lisboa:” The city hosting the Diamond Jubilee visit of His Highness the Aga Khan in July 2018

A point of of reference for everyone travelling to Lisbon to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

PLEASE CLICK: http://www.allthingslisboa.wordpress.com

Please click on image to visit new blog

All Things Lisboa (http://www.allthingslisboa.wordpress.com), is a new blog by Barakah.com and Simerg.com to help you enjoy Portuguese culture during your visit to the city in July for what has been termed as the “highest point” of the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. In the course of the coming few weeks, we will try to be your “humble guide” to Lisbon. Allthingslisboa will seek to provide ideas to enhance your experience of the historic city’s culture, sights and sounds as well as its tastes.

Through Allthingslisboa, we want to also keep you informed about what we officially hear from Ismaili Institutions about the on going developments, preparations and planned events for Lisbon.

For providers of tourism services and products for the Lisbon Diamond Jubilee, we welcome you to enjoy a FREE listing on the new blog! Details are provided on the blog.

Welcome to http://www.allthingslisboa.wordpress.com.

Date posted: Monday, April 23, 2018.

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Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam in Lisbon: Prepare & book your trip NOW for the “highest point” of the celebrations

BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher/Editor Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos, .com)

Nurin Merchant Ismaili Centre Lisbon Golden Jubilee Photos 001

Friends meeting friends at the magnificent Lisbon Ismaili Centre during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of His Highness the Aga Khan in 2008. Photo: Nurin Merchant.

Note: This post will be updated at regular intervals as more information become available.

Lisbon: The “highest point” of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

Flights to Lisbon are becoming harder to find on specific travelling dates in early July, and hotels are now quickly filling up as Jamati members respond to the official LIF (Ismaili Leaders International Forum) announcement made on Navroz, March 21, 2018 that, with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s approval, the Jamats around the world would be welcome to join the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon. Some weeks earlier, Nazim Ahmed, the AKDN representative to Portugal and one of the 5 senior officials of the Imamat to Portugal, made a statement to Portugal’s Ministry of External Affairs that the celebrations in Lisbon would be the highest point of the celebrations of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee. This set off a flood inquiries about what form the celebration would take, and many even started preparing for the trip then.

We want to tell you not to despair about flight and hotel bookings yet, but urge you NOT TO DELAY despite the fact that registration details for the Portugal Darbar have not yet been announced on the official Ismaili community website. The Ismaili, however, has launched a special website that presently informs the Jamat about events that are planned in Lisbon. There are seats available on some of Air Canada’s return flights from Toronto; and TAP, the Portuguese airline flies directly from Boston. Please get in touch with your airlines or travel agents, many of whom are offering complete packages from various cities around North America. Of course if you are in Europe, distances are shorter and many residing there may drive or take the train, as alternatives to flying!

My recent searches at some of the hotel booking sites that I have provided below — and that I have used many times — show that there are rooms available in Lisbon’s downtown at varying prices — from as low as CAD $55.00 per night to a high of CAD $1700.00 per night.

(Note: There may be visa requirements to travel to Portugal from your country, so you have to resolve that before making any kind of booking).

From the Jamat’s perspective, while the Darbar would undoubtedly be the high point of the visit, we want to say that there are plenty of interesting activities such as the Diamond Jubilee Festival that will be staged in Lisbon during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s presence in Lisbon. The official community website, the Ismaili, mentions that the Festival will include concerts featuring world-renowned performers; an international Jamati Talent Showcase; an Art Gallery; a Film Festival; and a general Imamat Day celebration. Also, a carry forward from the Golden Jubilee is the Rays of Light exhibition depicting Mawlana Hazar Imam’s commitment to improve the human condition during his 60 years of Imamat. A Mela (get together space) for friends and family to meet, relax, and share experiences will be the central hub of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration.

The Portuguese Jamat, as we learn, are very excited about welcoming the world wide Jamat for the “high point of the Diamond Jubilee celebration.”

Reasons to be in Lisbon

Over the weekend of March 24-25, 2018, I attended in Toronto the Canadian Jubilee arts festival and was impressed with stage performances and visual art exhibits. Now, that talent will converge in Lisbon from Ismaili Jamats who held local and national Jubilee events in their respective countries.

National Ismaili Arts Festival Canada

A painting at the Jubilee Arts National Festival held in Toronto on March 24-25. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Canada Jubilee Arts Festival

An amazing and graceful performance by Azaz Hussain (in wheelchair) and Rehana Meru at the Canada Jubilee Arts National Festival on March 25, 2018. Photo: Simerg/Malik Merchant.

Lisbon hosts the third high profile Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre to be built after the London and Burnaby Ismaili Centres. So visiting the Festival and seeing the Ismaili Centre during Hazar Imam’s presence, meeting thousands at the Festival grounds, enjoying Portuguese delicacies at the site and Lisbon restaurants, visiting historic sites in and around Lisbon as well as shopping are some of the wonderful memories that you will take back with you, Darbar aside.

Moreover, the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat is being established in Lisbon, and we would all be very excited to visit its location in the heart of Lisbon.

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The exquisite Henrique Mendonça Palace in Portugal that will house the Seat of Ismaili Imamat. Situated in an extremely exclusive neighbourhood, the Henrique Mendonça palace won the Valmor Prize in 1909, and is part of a panoramic green area of ​​three hectares in the heart of Lisbon.

The city of Lisbon itself is enchanting and has a lot to offer. Not far from Lisbon, approximately 300 kms away, is Portugal’s Algarve, one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world. Spain’s Cordoba is 500 kms from Lisbon. Then, from there it is another 2 hours to the architectural wonder of Alhambra, in Granada.

My Past Memories

Eusebio in action

The Benfica and Portuguese superstar Eusébio in action in the 1960’s. Photo: Fifa

Lisbon has been at the centre of my heart for almost 56 years and it all started with Eusébio (1942-2014), the football player, who was essentially “kidnapped” from Mozambique by the great Portuguese team of the time, Benfica. Soon after joining Benfica he led the team to a 5-3 win over Real Madrid in the finals of the European Cup (now known as the UEFA Champions Cup) on May 2, 1962 in Amsterdam. As an 8 year old, I stayed awake to listen to the live commentary in Lourenço Marques (LM) at my friend Aziz Noorali’s place at the other end of the apartment complex where we stayed. “Golo de Benfica” – yes that was when I first fell in love with Lisboa! Eusébio broke the 3-3 tie, scoring the last 2 goals that made Benfica victorious, and a side to be reckoned with for the next few years with him as its superstar, like today’s Portuguese Ronaldo who  plays for Real Madrid.

Alwaez Merchant with Loureco Marques Friends large 2

The author’s father, Jehangir Merchant (2nd from left) with friends including the late Noordin Ahmed Keshavjee (left), Haider Ali Issa (right) and Tajdin Hussein (centre with glasses, second row)  at the gate of Lourenço Marques Jamatkhana. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Nizar Ahmed Mahmed (d. appx 1960)

A portrait of Ismaili soldier Nizar Ahmed who died when the ship he was sailing in sunk off the coast of Mozambique around the year 1960. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Chaganbhai of Lourenco Marques

Remembering Chaganbhai of Lourenço Marques Jamatkhana. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Lourenco Marques Aga Khan Club Cricket Team

The Lourenço Marques Aga Khan Club cricket team. Jehangir Merchant is in the front row at extreme right and standing behind him is the great Ismaili football player, Satar, who represented the Mozambique national team as a defender on many occasions including in a game against Benfica (and Eusébio). Photo: Late 1950’s, Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Ismaili Ladies Volunteers Lourenço Marques Jamat late 1950's

Ismaili lady volunteers of the Lourenço Marques Jamat, late 1950’s. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

A few years later in the 1970’s the small Ismaili Jamat started leaving Mozambique for settlement in Portugal, and my first glimpse of Lisbon was in 1977 when I travelled there from London. The Keshavjee family hosted me, and Lutafbhai spent hours showing me the city, taking me to its most historical and charming sites. His older brother, the late Madatbhai, took me to other points of interest as well as to a coastal restaurant, where I enjoyed the tiger prawns that I had missed in Tanzania and London since leaving Mozambique.

Alwaez Merchant joining in a student recitation in Lourenco Marques

A recitation by Ismaili students at a Jamati gathering in Lourenço Marques. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

I vividly remember one night during that first trip to Lisbon when more than a dozen family members from the Keshavjee clan took me to a very traditional Portuguese restaurant where I experienced a wide variety of local delicacies. The weight gain from that meal has not been lost to this day! During my subsequent visits, I was welcomed to Lisbon with hugs and kisses, because my parents had served the LM Jamat admirably and with distinction during their 8 year tenure there in the 1950’s! Then, in 2008, I took my daughter with me to Lisbon for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee.

Prince Aly Khan admiring a needlework by an Ismaili Student during his visit to Lourenco Marques

Prince Aly Khan admiring needlework by an Ismaili student during his visit to Lourenço Marques in 1957. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

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Prince Aly Khan bids farewell as he leaves the Lourenço Marques Jamatkhana during his visit in 1957. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

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In May 1958, Mawlana Hazar Imam visited the Jamats in South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar. Here he is shown a display of needlework and crafts prepared by Ismaili students during his visit to Lourenço Marques. His beloved father, Prince Aly Khan (13 June 1911 – 12 May 1960), had visited the Jamat in 1957, a few months before Mawlana Hazar Imam became the Imam on July 11, 1957. See previous 2 photos. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

His Highness the Aga Khan, in front row in white suit, seen with leaders and teachers of the Lourenço Marques during his 1958 visit to Portuguese East Africa

1958, Lourenço Marques: Mawlana Hazar Imam, then 21 years of age, pictured with leaders and teachers of Lourenço Marques at the front staircase of the Jamatkhana entrance. Mrs. Merchant is in second row at left, and Mr. Merchant is seen immediately behind Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Mawlana Hazar Imam entering a classroom in Lourence Marques

Mawlana Hazar Imam meets with Ismaili students during his visit to Lourenço Marques in May 1958. Photo: Jehangir Merchant Family Collection.

Lisbon and Mozambique today

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Today’s Portuguese and Real Madrid superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, pictured playing against Germany at Euro 2012. Photo: Football.ua [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

What about today’s Mozambique and Portugal Jamats? I am happy to share a warm invitational letter from Aly Faruque in response to an earlier version of this post published on Barakah. He writes:

“As a Portuguese citizen currently residing in Mozambique, I would like to, in the first instance to welcome you to Portugal. We all look forward to receiving our brothers and sisters, and to experience together this incredible moment of history that our Community is celebrating.

“Your words, comments, and memories deeply touched us [referring to my Barakah post], by your humility and availability to share precious and valuable information. The history and the past that you shared from our Countries bring us nostalgia and willingness to remember even further our great memories from the past, as well as when looking at pictures that connect us back to our roots and traditions. This is indeed very heartwarming.

“But our history and tradition did not stop in the second half of the 20th century. Mozambique currently has a vibrant Ismaili community spread across the country, that includes 7 (and growing) Jamatkhanas, and, Portugal, where our community has prospered, is now the home of many brothers and sisters that are well integrated and without any doubt a part of the socio-economic fabric of the Portuguese society.

“In addition, and although Eusebio is still well respected, we are currently living the most glorious years of our football history. Portugal is the current holder of the European Cup and the best player in the world, perhaps of all times, is named Cristiano Ronaldo and started his career in Sporting Clube of Portugal, probably the best school of football talents in the world.

“As for the city of Lisbon, the highlights you mentioned are brilliant and definitely a must-see during a visit to our beautiful country and city. There are other places, those that are not on the itinerary of tour guides, and that could be a more genuine view of the Lisbon vibrant hospitality. Some of these places would be the Mercado de Campo de Ourique, where you can have a gourmet experience in an informal environment, the LX Factory, where you can visit some of the trendiest restaurants in Lisbon, and the Bairro Alto, Principe Real, Chiado and Cais do Sodre neighborhoods, suitable for both day and night experience.

“We look forward to receiving you all.”

Aly would like readers to note that his views about sightseeing and places to visit in Lisbon are personal. Readers who want more information about the city, from his perspective, may contact him at aly.faruque@gmail.com.

Aga Khan Arrives in Portugal

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan arrives in Lisbon on July 19, 2017, ahead of two ceremonies on July 20, when the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa in Portugal honoured the Aga Khan with a doctorate honoris causa and the President of Portugal bestowed upon him the Gra-cruz da ordem de Liberdade. Following him, at left, is Nazim Ahmed, the AKDN representative in Portugal and one of five senior Imamat officials introduced by His Highness the Aga Khan to Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousain in May 2016. Photo: The Ismaili.

Today the city’s (and the country’s) institutions have recognized Hazar Imam’s contribution and have bestowed him with honours. The Ismaili Imamat and the Portugese government signed a historical agreement to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Long before that, Lisbon already had established the third high profile Ismaili Centre in the world.

July 20 2017 Aga Khan and Portugal President

On July 20, 2017, Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa presented His Highness the Aga Khan with the Gra-cruz da ordem de Liberdade in recognition of his service to uplifting lives around the world. Photo: AKDN/Antonio Pedrosa.

Enjoy Lisbon to the fullest!

There are plenty of things to do in and around Lisbon, and I would suggest that anyone travelling to the city experience its history and architecture by taking day tours or simply jumping on Tram 28 to see the best of Lisbon! Hop on and off buses are available! Aly Faruque has also provided unique insights in his letter, above.

Amin Jiná has sent me a link to the exclusive ground transportation that he offers through http://www.amiroad.pt. I normally don’t endorse services that I have not utilized myself but I would be inclined to use his services due to the extremely positive reviews and high ratings he has received at https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g189158-d7134166-Reviews-Amiroad_Luxury_Transports-Lisbon_Lisbon_District_Central_Portugal.html.

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View of Alfama from the Miradouro of Santa Luzia in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Wikipedia/Miguel Vieira. This image was originally posted to Flickr by MiguelVieira at https://www.flickr.com/photos/11563230@N04/1224473888. It was reviewed on 27 August 2007 by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0.

Lisbon’s subway system is great (see map, below). With regard to accommodations do not necessarily look for one closest to the Ismaili Centre. There are lovely hotels and charming Airbnb rooms and apartments available in centre city and other historical areas of the city such as Alfama. Taking a cab to the Ismaili Centre or the site of the Darbar from downtown Lisbon (or Baixa) will not take you more than 20 minutes! So be an intrepid traveller – not a boring one! Kids love excitement, remember that, if you are travelling with children and youth. And of course staying in the more traditional and popular areas of the city will allow you to walk to nearby restaurants for great coffees and pastries, and make sightseeing and shopping exciting as well as easier.

Hotel Booking Websites

I have made bookings over the past several years through all the websites listed below, with a very high level (95%) of satisfaction. Where a hotel has not met the expected star level or service as indicated at the site where the reservation was made, their customer service representatives have been extremely considerate in fixing the problem or applying credits for subsequent stays. I have also stayed at many Airbnb accommodations over the past 2 years that have been positively reviewed and I don’t have anything to complain about. With the oncoming rush many new properties will be listed that do not yet carry reviews. If they look good in photos and the person you communicate with is responsive, go for it. Here are the sites I have made bookings through. Note that many properties offer cancellations!

Tip: Use filters (eg. price range, dates of stay, star rating, location from city centre or major attractions etc.) to narrow down search

  • http://www.booking.com (excellent, and one good thing is that it offers cancellations on many bookings or pay at property)
  • http://www.hotels.com (again, an excellent website)
  • http://www.trivago.ca (scans partner hotel booking sites for best rates, and lists the top few)
  • http://www.priceline.com (you can name your own price and, if lucky, be rewarded or get up to 60% off express deals; no refunds once booked on special deals)
  • http://www.hotwire.com (offers very competitive rates that once booked are not refundable)
  • http://www.tripadvisor.com (an amazing site that also provides reliable reviews of everything travel related — things to do, hotels, restaurants etc.)
  • http://www.expedia.com (excellent and offers special discounts for registered users)
  • http://www.airbnb.com (private hosts who offer their rooms/apartments for short term or long term stays)
  • NOTE: The author has used all the sites listed above without any major issues; concerns raised, eg. incorrect property description/star rating, have been addressed satisfactorily!

Other Lisbon Notes

  • Sources indicate that the 1998 Expo World Fair site, PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES (Park of Nations), is where the Diamond Jubilee events will be taking place;
  • The site is appx. 9-10 kms and a 15-20 minute drive from the Ismaili Centre (Nº1, Av. Lusíada, 1600-001 Lisboa, Portugal);
  • Appx. distance to the Ismaili Centre from downtown Lisbon (or Baixa) is 9 km, 20 minutes by car; and from downtown to PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES, 10-12 kms, 26-30 minutes;
  • For a beginners guide to downtown Lisbon, please click: https://www.pousadasofportugal.com/a-beginners-guide-to-lisbons-downtown-district/;
  • Write to aly.faruque@gmail.com for a more genuine and authentic view of Lisbon’s vibrant hospitality normally not found on guided tour itinerary;
  • Visit Amin Jiná’s http://www.amiroad.pt, highly rated on tripadvisor, for exclusive tours and ground transportation;
  • Avenide de Liberdade is one of the main streets through Lisbon and well known for designer shops. It is a good base for a hotel to have access to all parts of the city;
  • The Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon, spreading on the slope between the São Jorge Castle and the Tejo river. Its name comes from the Arabic Al-hamma, meaning “hot fountains” or “baths”;
  • Details and registration procedures will be communicated to the Jamat globally on the official website of the Ismaili community, https://the.ismaili/ (NOTE: no Darbar registration information yet;  info for Jubilee Arts Festival in Lisbon is now posted)

ENJOY Lisbon and Portugal. Make your plans, don’t delay!

Date posted: March 29, 2018.

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Note: This is an updated version of a piece that was first published at http://www.barakah.com. Both the pieces now contain almost identical information.

We welcome your feedback. To leave a comment please click Leave a comment.

Please visit our sister website www,barakah.com, which is dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan for his Diamond Jubilee. Also join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.

His Highness the Aga Khan in UAE: A thorough and comprehensive coverage

The purpose of this post is to provide external links to news of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We we will make every effort to ensure that links are filtered so that the news is not repetitive – often the same news agency report is shared by different media. The page will be updated on a regular basis.

The Aga Khan in the Emirates

January 25, 2018

Mawlana Hazar Imam bids Khuda Hafiz before departing the UAE. The Ismaili/Simon Milne-Day.

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Mawlana Hazar Imam walks through the Jamat during the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Dubai. The Ismaili/Akbar Hakim.

A view of the beautiful stage for the Darbar held in Dubai for the Emirates Jamat. On the centre, behind the chair, is the circular Diamond Jubilee logo bearing the crest of the Ismaili Imamat. The crest has 60 crescents surrounding it, representing Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 60 year reign. A Kufic rendition of the Qur’anic ayah or verse (49:13) from Surah Al-Hujurat (the Dwellings) with the following meaning, forms the outer perimeter of the logo. “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.” — Translation by Pickthall.

Mawlana Hazar Imam addresses the Jamat during the Diamond Jubilee Darbar held at Dubai World Central. Photo: The Ismaili/Akbar Hakim.

January 24/25, 2018

Arabic Media

Al-Ittihad PDF image 2Photos and stories in Al-Ittihad

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For story and photos in Arabic, see Al Khaleej link, below. 

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English Media

His Highness the Aga Khan meets with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (left column) and His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Click on The Ismaili link below for report and enlarged photos.

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January 23, 2018

Arabic MediaPhoto and story in Al-Ittihad

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2018-01-24-Aga Khan in Local Arab MediaIn printed media, headline in red, top right, states that the Crown Prince welcomes Patriarch Yuhana Xth and Aga Khan IV.

2018-01-24-Aga Khan in Local Arab Media 2Photo and report in printed media of Aga Khan’s arrival in Dubai on Monday January 22, 2018.

English Media

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Video

Mohammed bin Rashid receives Imam of Nizari Ismailism

For more coverage related to this event, please click https://sheikhmohammed.ae/en-us/

Date posted: January 24, 2018.
Last updated: January 27, 2018, 01:03 AM, EST (explanation of Diamond Jubilee logo, and photo of stage)

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Note: This post is simultaneously published on http://www.barakah.com, a website dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan. 

A Century of Addresses to Canada’s Parliament: J. Patrick Boyer on the Aga Khan, and why his address is one of the most important of all speeches

Foreign Voices in the House

Abdulmalik Merchant: From all those you have heard and met during your lifetime, what would you say to his followers about their own Imam?

J. Patrick Boyer: All around the world there are individuals holding office….But being an office holder does not make someone a leader. The Aga Khan is a leader. To have the opportunity to follow him and advance the vital causes he identifies, as Ismaili Muslims do, is a rare opportunity.”

20140227_Aga Khan addressing the Canadian Parliament

His Highness the Aga Khan delivers a historic address to a joint session of the Parliament of Canada on 27 February 2014, at the invitation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

I was privileged to meet J. Patrick Boyer at the launching of his book “Foreign Voices in the House: A Century of Addresses to Canada’s Parliament by World Leaders” at the wonderful café and photo gallery of my friend Jean-Marc Carisse. Boyer is author of 23 books on Canadian history law, politics and governance, and his Foreign Voices in the House is unique because it is the first such book published that provides a complete record of high level oratory delivered by world leaders to Canadians at their own doorstep. The first speech was delivered one hundred years ago in 1917! I later interviewed Boyer and published the complete interview on Barakah, a website dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan for his Diamond Jubilee.

In the following condensed version of the interview, Boyer gives his insightful and thought provoking analysis of the Aga Khan’s 2014 address to the Canadian Parliament and makes the readers aware of the Aga Khan’s sole right, as hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, to provide authoritative guidance on matters of faith and to interpret the Qur’an. Boyer’s astute awareness of the Ismaili Imam’s role is drawn from articles of the Preamble of the Ismaili Constitution, which was ordained on December 13, 1986, on the anniversary of the Aga Khan’s 50th birthday.

Foreign Voices in the House (Dundurn, 2017. 600 pages, photographs. ISBN 9781459736856 Can$35.00), is available at Perfect Books located on 258 Elgin Street, Ottawa, phone (613) 231-6468. Other sources for obtaining the book are Amazon and Chapters-Indigo. A Kindle edition is available for C$9.99.

Exclusive Interview: J. Patrick Boyer on His Highness the Aga Khan

“[The Aga Khan’s] accomplishments stand apart from whether others accord him “official recognition” or not, and will endure with or without a Nobel Peace Prize….Sir Edmund Hillary treasured above all others an enormous decorative star, very bright and very colourful, hammered from tin and presented by the Kathmandu Taxi Drivers Association. I think the Aga Khan would likewise treasure something from people who have their feet on the ground, their hearts in harmony with others, and wanting to honour courageous action.”

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Abdulmalik J. Merchant, publisher of digital Ismaili magazines Simerg and Barakah, buys a copy of Foreign Voices in the House for The Aga Khan while author J. Patrick Boyer opens this first-ever publication of speeches by world leaders in the Commons to the page showing the Ismaili spiritual leader, just before his address, with Prime Minister Harper. [Photo © J.M.Carisse 2017]

Abdulmalik Merchant: This book is uniquely Canadian because you are a Canadian and the book has also been printed and bound in Canada. You must be truly proud of it.

J. Patrick Boyer: You’re right. I am proud, for my country, having created this unique book.

During my years as a member of Canada’s House of Commons, a dozen world leaders delivered major addresses. Pérez de Cuéllar of the United Nations, Prime Minister Nakasone of Japan, President Reagan of the U.S., President Mitterrand of France, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, Chancellor Kohl of Germany, Prime Minister Thatcher of the U.K., President Herzog of Israel, King Hussein of Jordan, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, President Salinas of Mexico, and President Yeltsin of Russia. That was an imposing, impressive parade of players on the international scene.

Each was at the height of his or her power, advancing major policies for the world, seeking Canadian support for sharing their vision. Their messages also offered snapshots of history in the making. Indeed, the influence they had on political Ottawa made their speeches intrinsic to Canada’s evolution in world affairs. This is clear when you read what they said over an entire century in a dynamic world context.

So rather than see them fade away, I decided to gather and publish all such speeches in a single collective work. That, too, makes Foreign Voices in the House “uniquely Canadian.” All addresses by world leaders to Canadian parliamentarians over the last century are now available in one book for the first time.

Merchant: When did the idea first occur to you to gather the speeches and publish them in a book form?

Boyer: The idea came when I was witnessing, at close range, U.S. President Ronald Reagan deliver a masterful performance. So there is an exact answer to your question – April 6, 1987….That’s a long stretch to be working on a book, isn’t it? But the explanation is that the further back I went, the more speeches I kept finding! And meanwhile, coming forward in time, fifteen more leaders – including His Highness the Aga Khan in 2014 – arrived in Ottawa to speak from Canada’s most prestigious podium. So the list kept growing, at both ends.

Yet even though the project kept expanding, I decided 2017 was an ideal year to publish Foreign Voices. It’s a full century since René Viviani of France in 1917 became the first foreign leader to speak in our House of Commons. And in 2017 Canadians reflected on 150 years of Confederation and what has taken to make us the people we are. And as you already realize, Abdulmalik, Foreign Voices in the House documents that journey the way nothing else can.

“Given the state of world affairs today, [the Aga Khan’s]….address is one of the most important of all speeches delivered to the audience of Canadian parliamentarians over the last hundred years.”

Merchant: You have been writing since 1975 on a wide range of subjects – election issues, justice, democracy and leadership, among many other themes. What particular challenges did Foreign Voices present to you – gathering the speeches, or the search for material for your insightful introductory remarks before each speech?

Boyer: The first challenge was finding all the speeches foreign leaders had delivered. After I asked researchers in the Parliamentary Library about this, they became as curious as I was. Their existing list at the time seemed scant, so they looked for more, and found quite a few.

Next, not all were printed in parliamentary records. For example, the 1964 address by United Nations Secretary-General Thant, was one I had to obtain through other sources. Other times the speech didn’t get printed in the parliamentary proceedings for weeks, or months. Even after the Library researchers thought all had been found – and posted on Parliament’s official website that Winston Churchill’s 1941 speech was the first – I still found earlier ones. For instance, not only did France’s René Viviani speak in 1917, but so did Britain’s Arthur Balfour

Another challenge was tracking down photographs of each world leader in Canada’s parliament. Readers are astonished to see such legendary figures as Franklin Roosevelt, Sukarno, Nehru, Liaquat Ali Khan, Charles de Gaulle, and Madame Chiang Kai-shek in Canada’s House of Commons…..Tracing all those photographs proved harder than one might think.

Writing the biographies of each leader which accompany his or her speech, to which you refer, was utterly enjoyable….My short biographies help readers who might not know the fascinating stories of these human individuals delivering their urgent messages.

Merchant: In your introduction to the volume, you note two important contexts involving any speech that is delivered: the Occasion and the Audience. Would you elaborate on these two core elements for the speech that the Aga Khan delivered, and how important it was for him to address the Canadian Parliament?

Boyer: Yes, putting a speech in context is essential to understanding it. This requires seeing the crises and events of transcending significance at the time the leader spoke…..

When the Aga Khan addressed Canadian parliamentarians, the world was awakening to new challenges relating to the Muslim world, the Ummah, in its many complexities. It is, frankly, quite sad how little a great many people actually know about Islam and its accomplishments over many centuries, leaving them more open to fear and misunderstandings. He addressed our House of Commons, moreover, in a special category of “world leader.” On three occasions, secretaries-general of the United Nations (Thant, Perez de Cuellar, and Kofi Annan) presented a global frame of reference for Canada’s international relations and transnational conditions. They did not speak for another country but rather the comity of all nations. It is in their company that the Aga Khan delivered his message, and why I group all four, in Foreign Voices, in a section called “Transnational Leaders.”

Given the state of world affairs today, his rational, specific, historically based, and ultimately inspiration address is one of the most important of all speeches delivered to the audience of Canadian parliamentarians over the last hundred years.

Merchant: What duties do Parliamentarians have to convey his message to their citizens?

Boyer: It’s in the interest of all Canadians to understand the constructive work of The Aga Khan foundations and Ismaili Muslims, both in our country and around the world. This extends from training nurses, building schools, establishing universities, and relocating refugees to the work of the Centre for Global Pluralism in Ottawa which honours and advances pluralistic outlooks, and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto which promotes cultural awareness of Islam’s rich heritage over many centuries. It’s vital for Canadians to see how this dovetails with the pluralism of Canada’s society.

The Aga Khan said on February 27, 2014 that he believed Canada “uniquely able to articulate and exemplify three critical underpinnings of a quality civil society,” noting that these are “commitment to pluralism, to meritocracy, and to a cosmopolitan ethic.” That point, and many others from his remarkable address, deserve wide dissemination by parliamentarians.

That’s why, as a former parliamentarian, I included the Aga Khan’s speech in Foreign Voices, to spread his message about people with different values living in greater harmony.

Merchant: Is this being done, considering that the Ismaili Imam touched on so many issues that are relevant and important for Canadians – civil society, pluralism, democracy, and Canada’s involvement in the world?

Boyer: The extent to which parliamentarians are spreading his message is impossible to measure. I do what I can, because as you note Malik, his speech addresses so many issues so freshly and constructively. The Aga Khan spirit reflects what I call “optimistic realism.” By publishing his full speech, to repeat, I’m trying to ensure that readers of Foreign Voices in the House will get the full extent of his teachings.

Merchant: Remarkably there are 64 speeches in your volume including some 8 by British Prime Ministers between 1917 and 2011; 10 by US Presidents between 1943 and 2016, and dozens by world leaders from every continent. Besides all the leaders who delivered the speeches, who else would you have liked to have seen deliver a speech at the Parliament?

Boyer: I would have found it inspirational to hear Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King Jr.

But you know, Brian MacArthur said in his 1995 Penguin Book of Historic Speeches that addresses by “contemporary leaders” – among whom he mentioned Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, François Mitterrand, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Vaclav Havel, and Nelson Mandela – “transcend national boundaries and inspire mankind.” Those seven all spoke in Canada’s House of Commons. Their speeches are in Foreign Voices in the House, along with their photographs and biographies.

So my point would be that, with the many speeches already on record in Foreign Voices, there’s more than enough to inform, inspire, and fuel introspection.

“[The Ismaili Constitution] is a step forward in what the Aga Khan, in his speech to our Parliament, envisages as creating “a cosmopolitan ethic” for our cosmopolitan society. The Constitution seeks allegiance, within this universal brotherhood, through loyalty and obedience to the Imam.”

Merchant: As you know the Aga Khan has been honoured with titles and awards as well as honorary degrees from renowned institutions around the world. In a recent piece in the Huffington Post, a writer stated that the Ismaili Imam is one of the most deserving individuals of the Nobel Peace Prize. Would you agree with that statement? If that does not happen during his lifetime, would you think the impact of his contribution to humanity is diminished in any manner?

Boyer: Without question the Aga Khan is deserving of respectful honour and due recognition for his leadership in fashioning a better world. However, his accomplishments stand apart from whether others accord him “official recognition” or not, and will endure with or without a Nobel Peace Prize.

Sir Edmund Hillary was showered with high honours after climbing Mount Everest with Sherpa Tenzing in 1953. Thirty years later when visiting Toronto he told me the one presentation he treasured above all others was an enormous decorative star, very bright and very colourful, hammered from tin and presented by the Kathmandu Taxi Drivers Association.

I think the Aga Khan would likewise treasure something from people who have their feet on the ground, their hearts in harmony with others, and wanting to honour courageous action.

Sir Edmund continued with exciting adventures, but slowly found his values changing. Increasingly important to him were human relationships. He became involved in assistance programs in Nepal – building schools and hospitals, bridges and water pipelines. “To help others improve their way of life became a prime target,” he said. “Getting involved with people and their problems” was “very satisfying.”

This same theme is in the Aga Khan’s speech. “The Canadian spirit resonates with a cherished principle in Shia Ismaili culture,” he explained. “The importance of contributing one’s individual energies, on a voluntary basis, to improving the lives of others…a matter of enlightened self-fulfillment.”

I believe such men act because of their values, not because they value recognition.

Merchant: I found your references to the Aga Khan’s ecclesiastical role very pertinent as you have based it on the Preamble of the current Ismaili Constitution that was ordained in 1986, on the anniversary of his 50th birthday (he was born December 13, 1936). Would you elaborate on that based on your reading of the Preamble.

Boyer: The role of religious codes and institutions is highly problematic in a world where millions have been slaughtered for their beliefs and millions more shackled with guilt and punishment by those whose pretense is to interpret divine intent in judging others.

However, in this domain, the Ismaili Constitution stands apart. Its Preamble seeks to establish by proclamation the legitimacy of a divine lineage and the ultimate status of rules governing spiritual and temporal matters for all Ismaili Muslims.

To me, as a non-believer in any particular organized religion, the importance of this Constitution lies in providing an institutional and structural world-wide framework so that followers can contribute to harmonious development – both throughout the Muslim Ummah and within the societies of countries where they are citizens. This integrated identity is hugely important for world harmony and predictability, especially for adherents of a religious faith lacking any specific territorial grounding but existing, instead, across global boundaries.

For the universe of Ismaili Muslims, as well as for those sharing the planet with them, this Constitution is a positive advance in global society. It is a step forward in what the Aga Khan, in his speech to our Parliament, envisages as creating “a cosmopolitan ethic” for our cosmopolitan society. The Constitution seeks allegiance, within this universal brotherhood, through loyalty and obedience to the Imam. The overarching goal is to secure the peace and unity of followers, as well as their religious and social welfare. It also seeks fruitful collaboration between different peoples, optimal use of resources, and a pathway for Ismaili Muslims to make contributions that improve quality of life in the Ummah as well as in the societies where they live.

Only by understanding full picture can the true role of the Aga Khan be grasped for its ecclesiastical and secular importance.

Merchant: What are key points from the Aga Khan’s speech that you would want the readers to reflect on?

Boyer: That “pluralism” is to embrace others without having to give up one’s own identity. That lofty principles, if they are to have any meaning, cannot exist in some abstract sphere but must take meaning in real peoples’ daily lives – in homes, schools, factories, offices, and on playing fields and buses. If they have no meaning in places so small they cannot be seen on any map of the world, they have no meaning anywhere.

Merchant: From all those you have heard and met during your lifetime, what would you say to his followers about their own Imam?

Boyer: I would point out that all around the world there are individuals holding office in governments, religious organizations, business corporations, educational institutions, sports organizations, and so forth. But being an office holder does not make someone a leader. The Aga Khan is a leader. To have the opportunity to follow him and advance the vital causes he identifies, as Ismaili Muslims do, is a rare opportunity.

I myself am delighted to have made your acquaintance through the official launch in Ottawa of my book Foreign Voices. I salute your dedicated contributions as editor and publisher of the digital magazines Simerg and Barakah. Through them, I am also happy to connect with your readers. Thank you for this opportunity.!”

Date posted: December 18, 2017.
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Portrait Patrick Boyer

J. Patrick Boyer. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse

Patrick Boyer has been a printer, lawyer, Member of Parliament, parliamentary secretary for Foreign Affairs, parliamentary secretary for National Defence, and chairman of three parliamentary committees dealing with equality rights, the status of disabled persons, and election law reform.

He is the author of some 24 books, hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, and as a broadcast journalist had his own TV shows. He has also taught at four universities, and worked on democratic development projects in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Iraq. He chaired an international committee of parliamentarians on the global spread of democracy. He is founder of the Corinne Boyer Fund for Ovarian Cancer Research and Treatment, today’s Ovarian Cancer Canada.

In public affairs, Patrick has a track record of commitment to nuclear disarmament, democratic renewal, women’s health issues, the cultural heritage of Canadians, and individuals with mental and physical disabilities. His website is: http://www.patrickboyer.ca.

READER’S FEEDBACK

We welcome your feedback on this VERY important interview, where the author has provided insights into His Highness the Aga Khan. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or CLICK HERE. If you encounter technical issues, send your comment to simerg@aol.com, Subject: Patrick Boyer interview with the Aga Khan.

The Aga Khan in Pakistan: (2) A thorough and comprehensive coverage of his Diamond Jubilee visit to Karachi, December 14-19, 2017

2017-12-14-Karachi Home decorated for Aga Khan visit

A house in a Karachi neighbourhood is beautifully decorated to mark the Aga Khan’s visit to his Ismaili community after 17 long years. Photo: Simerg.

PAGE LAST UPDATED: December 20, 08:25 AM EST (in Karachi +10h, December 20, 06:25 PM).

The purpose of this post is to provide external links to media coverage of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and its commercial capital. We we will make every effort to ensure that we skip on links that contain repetitive information – often the same news agency report is shared  by different media.

COVERAGE OF AGA KHAN’S VISIT TO NORTHERN PAKISTAN: Pertinent external site links for Prince Karim Aga Khan’s visit from December 7–14, 2017 to Islamabad, Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan in the northern areas of Pakistan are available at The Aga Khan in Pakistan: (1) A thorough and comprehensive coverage of his Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Pakistan, Dec. 7-14, 2017

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DECEMBER 19, 2017

Videos: Conclusion of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Momentous Visit

 

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Media Coverage

Dawn Aga Khan Community Members Enjoy Visit

Community members celebrate Aga Khan’s presence in city. Photo: Dawn, Karachi, Metro South. Click on link below for story.

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December 18, 2017

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His Highness the Aga Khan pictured meeting with former Pakistan President, Asi Ali Zardari, during his current visit to Karachi. Zardari presented the Aga Khan Sindhi topi (cap) and ajrak, a unique form of blockprinted shawl.

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December 16/17, 2017

Media Coverage

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December 16, 2017

Media Coverage

Story about the inauguration of a health care education centre at AKU. See link below to view complete newspaper.

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December 14/15, 2017

Media Coverage

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The Aga Khan at a dinner hosted in his honour by Muhammad Zubair, Governor of Sindh, at the Governor’s House Karachi. Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister of Sindh, and Ismaili institutional leaders were also present. Photo: The Ismaili/Arif Hussain. See link below for more photos.

Regional Times Photo

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Governor of Sindh Muhammad Zubair at Jinnah Airport Terminal. Photo: Regional Times of Sindh. See link below.

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Aga Khan Video: Phenomenal motorcade clip

 

 

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Ag Khan Video: Airport lounge meeting (1)

 

 

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Aga Khan Video: Airport lounge meeting (2)

 

 

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Aga Khan Video: Karachi arrival and welcome

 

 

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Aga Khan Video: Plane Taxiing

 

 

Date posted: December 14, 2017
Last updated: December 20, 2017, 08:25 AM EST

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We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment

The Aga Khan in Pakistan: (1) A thorough and comprehensive coverage of his Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Pakistan, Dec. 7- 14, 2017

Latest updates were applied at 00:47 AM on Thursday, December 14, 2017.

The purpose of this post is to provide external links to media coverage of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Pakistan. This post will specifically cover his visit to Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan in the northern areas of Pakistan. We we will make every effort to ensure that we skip on links that contain repetitive information – often the same news agency report is shared  by different media.

NOTE TO OUR READERS: All material related to his Karachi visit will now be covered in a new post dedicated to Karachi. The link will be available shortly.

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Darbar attendances

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A bird’s-eye view of the Darbar at Aliabad, Hunza. Photo: The Ismaili

Newspaper reports suggest the following darbar attendances in Gilgit-Baltistan: 150,000 in Yasin (Ghizr District) and 100,000 in Aliabad (Hunza District). Also, original estimates for Chitral, 2 locations — Booni and Garam Chashma – were 140,000.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

(a) Media Coverage

NOTE: All material related to his Karachi visit will be covered in a new post dedicated to Karachi!

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Tuesday/Wednesday, December 12/13, 2017

(a) Media Coverage

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Mawlana Hazar Imam walks through the Jamat during the Darbar at Garamchashma, Lower Chitral Photo: The Ismaili/Amirali Rimjee

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Entrance of a Darbar gate in Hunza decorated with traditional hats and flowers.

(a) Media Coverage

(b) Daily Motion Video: Welcome message to the Aga Khan from Shia Community

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

(a) AKDN Initiative

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(b) First page coverage (Urdu newspaper)

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Front page of Gilgit’s Urdu newspaper, dailybaadeshimal.com, that extensively covers Hazar Imam’s visit to Yasin and Hunza. First column, second photo down, shows Hazar Imam greeting Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan, with his wife in centre. Mir Ghazanfar belongs to the ruling family of Hunza. He is the son of Last Mir of Hunza, Muhammad Jamal Khan. See more photos of Hazar Imam with the Mir and his wife, below.

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(c) Photos with Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan

Aga Khan and Mir Photos

Mawlana Hazar Imam with Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan and his wife. The Mir currently holds the office of Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan. He was appointed to the position of governor on November 24, 2015 by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif.

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(d) Gilgit arrival, a Gbee News Twitter video (must watch, photos with children)

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(e) Media Coverage

Aga Khan Photo Face Book Page of Hunza News

Hunza News Facebook Page. See more photos at link above.

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Booni, Chitral, Darbar, December 9, 2017. See more photos at Chitral Times Urdu link, above.

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(f) Hunza preparations ahead of visit

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

(a) Booni Darbar video

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(b) Helicopter departure video (from town of Chitral to Booni)

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(c). Booni pre-darbar photos

booni didargah before Darbar on December 9

Tens of thousands of people pack the Didargah in Booni, Chitral, on December 9, before the arrival of Mawlana Hazar Imam for the Darbar. Photo: Pamir Times/Shuja Raza.

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(d) Flight Delay in Islamabad: “The C130 aircraft in which he was supposed to fly could not takeoff from Islamabad in time. The AKF Helicopter Wing however took over and proved its worth by promptly dashing over to Islamabad in marginal weather and ferried the Imam and his entourage to grace Chitral and allay the anxiety of tens of thousands of the waiting faithful at Garam Chashma and Booni. Due to the four hour delay in scheduled departure from Islamabad and extended ceremonies at both the Deedar Gahs, the Imam decided to stay overnight in Chitral” — Excerpt from ChitralNews.com

(e) Media Coverage

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Friday, December 8, 2017

(a) Chitral preparations ahead of Darbar

booni didargah

(b) Comment on the volunteers

“Volunteers from the community have been working day and night for weeks on, to clean the area and upgrade roads and prepare two grand ‘deedar gahs’ (congregation areas) at Booni and Garam chashma, which will hold thousands of disciples of the Imam of the Ismailia community. Ismailis from all over Chitral with their women folk and children have converged on Booni and Garam Chashma the two venues where the Ag Khan would address his followers. The scathing cold has not deterred the faithful to brave the weather and catch a glimpse of their Imam.” — Excerpt from Chitralnews.com

 (c) Media Coverage

Tribune ecopy page Aga Khan visit

December 9th issue of Pakistan Tribune, Twin Cities Section. See story below.

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(d) Social Media Tweet by Marvi Mennon

Marvi Memon, aged 45,  is a Pakistani politician who serves as the Minister of State/Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme. She has been a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan since 2013 as a member of Pakistan Muslim League.

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(e) Video (Urdu news on Aga Khan arrival in Pakistan + meeting government leaders)

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(e) Expressions (Song honouring Mawlana Hazar Imam)

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

(a) Conventional or Social Media Coverage

(b) Video

Date posted: December 9, 2017.
Last updated: December 13, 2017, 11:42 PM EST.

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A Chitral boy’s special moment with his beloved 49th Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, @Barakah

A young boy from Chitral presented a bouquet of flowers to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan on December 7, 2017. What then followed is a brief conversation the boy will remember all his life.

PLEASE CLICK: His Highness the Aga Khan in Pakistan: A Chitral boy’s story of a beautiful moment with his beloved 49th Imam

Please click on photo for story and video.

Date posted: December 9, 2017.

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Fabulous preparations for the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Aliabad, Hunza, with photos of his arrival in Pakistan @Barakah

HUNZA’S FAQIR ULLAH KHAN in a special report for Barakah provides a lively update with great photos of the Darbar preparations that are underway in Aliabad, Hunza. Read his wonderful piece and share it with all your friends…..MORE

PLEASE CLICK: Amazing photos of the Diamond Jubilee darbar preparations in Hunza

Please click on photo for report, photos and story.

Date posted: December 7, 2017.

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Ismailis in Hunza prepare in earnest for the Aga Khan: Photos & Videos @Barakah

The excitement for the didar has spilled into every corner of Hunza. There will be more Jamati members participating in this Darbar than ever before. The entire registration process began some months ago and this has proceeded very well. The spirit of the Jamat and volunteers particularly in central Hunza is extremely high. The darbar task force members are active at each of the villages. Transportation, crowd control, accommodation and lodging have become major challenges. Jamats living in remoter areas will start moving to Aliabad at least 4 days before darbar…..MORE

PLEASE CLICK: Ismailis on the roof of the world make incredible preparations for Diamond Jubilee Darbars of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan

Please click on photo for story, videos and more pictures.

Date posted: December 5, 2017.

Aga Khan’s forthcoming visit to remote Chitral: Photos with video @Barakah

PLEASE CLICK: Ismailis, as spiritual children of Mawlana Hazar Imam, always take to rejoicing when they hear about their Imam’s confirmed visits to other jurisdictions. Each visit by the Imam is filled with blessing for that particular jamat, as well as for other jamats around the world. I became truly conscious of this fact during an extraordinary moment in Montreal, just over a week ago, on the morning of November 21 — Read more at Barakah, a special project by Simerg dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan

Site of the Diamond Jubilee mulaqat of His Highness the Aga Khan with his jamat in Chitral. Please click for report, video and more photos.