The spiritual leader of Ismailites worldwide, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, completed yesterday a week-long visit to Tajikistan. He conferred with President Imomali Rahmonov, opposition chairman Saidabdullo Nuri and other leaders on both sides about the prospects of pacification and post-war economic recovery. The possible contribution of the Aga Khan Fund to that recovery figured high on the agenda.
The Aga Khan toured the Badahshon Autonomous Region, where adherents of the Ismailite branch of Islam are concentrated. He presided over prayer assemblies and inspected aid projects. The Aga Khan Fund has for some years sponsored educational, development and humanitarian relief programs in Badahshon. Situated high in the Pamirs, the region has almost been cut off from the rest of the world since the beginning of the civil war in 1992.
Ismailites have generally been unreceptive to the appeals of the Islamic opposition in Tajikistan. The Dushanbe government, for its part ,has encouraged the Aga Khan and his organization to operate in Badahshon during the civil war. The opposition also has established a strong presence in the region. The Lali Badahshon Party represents the region’s interests within the United Tajik Opposition (International agencies, September 22-29).–VS
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