May 20, 2008

Aga Khan to invest in Bangladesh

M Ali Ahsan

Dhaka accorded heartiest welcome to Prince Karim Aga Khan, imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, who arrived here on a 3-day visit. On his arrival, Aga Khan expressed his interest in investing in various socioeconomic sectors, including financial services, education and health, in Bangladesh.

He also offered his community’s services to build bridges between Bangladesh and Central Asian countries where they have presence in promoting socioeconomic relations.
Prince Aga Khan, who arrived in Dhaka Monday afternoon on a four-day visit, expressed his willingness as he called on the chief adviser, Fakhruddin Ahmed.
Before the formal meeting, Fakhrudin and Prince Aga Khan had a one-to-one parley for a while in the Chief Adviser’s office.
Responding to the Ismaili spiritual leader, Fakhruddin said Bangladesh would definitely try to take advantage of the support of the Aga Khan community in expanding trade and investment opportunities with the Central Asian countries.
Karim Aga Khan, who last visited Bangladesh in 1993, said they basically focused on primary and secondary education and try to hone out the talent of students to make them best educated and skilled.
He talked about the establishment of an educational institution in Dhaka which would be a centre of excellence in education with will offer access to education also for meritorious poor students.
Listing a number of promising sectors for investment such as banking, telecommunications and agro-processing industries, Fakhruddin said the members of the Aga Khan Community could take advantage of investments in such areas.
He also requested Karim Aga Khan to set up a hospital in Bangladesh. The Prince said they had set up world-class health centers in Kabul, Karachi and Kazakhstan.
Fakhruddin appreciated various socioeconomic activities in Bangladesh by the Aga Khan Foundation and the Aga Khan Development Network.
Fakhruddin requested revival of the once-popular Aga Khan Gold Cup Football Tournament in Dhaka. Prince Karim Aga Khan responded positively.
The prince said they had investments in health service, education, leather, financial service, microfinance, industry, rural development and rural energy industry.
Director of diplomatic affairs Shafik Sachedina and Habib Hirji, president of the Aga Khan Council for Bangladesh, were present on the Prince side while the foreign affairs adviser, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, principal secretary to the Chief Adviser’s Office Ali Imam Majumder and secretary to the Chief Adviser’s Office Kazi Aminul Islam were on the Fakhruddin side.
A red-carpet reception was accorded to Prince Karim Aga Khan earlier as he arrived at Zia International Airport at around 1:30pm. Fakhruddin Ahmed received Prince Karim Aga Khan on the VVIP tarmac.
Prince Karim Aga Khan is a household name in Bangladesh for his various philanthropic activities and projects in the country. The spiritual leader is considered to be one of the best friends of the people of Bangladesh. The present interim government as well as members of business community and civil society are seeing the visit of Aga Khan to Bangladesh with due importance, as such visits in past were always extremely beneficial to the nation.
To many Bangladeshis, Aga Khan remains as the bright symbol of humanity. Members of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims community in Bangladesh are playing important role in strengthening country’s economy since long. Various large industrial projects are already established by the members of this community. Bangladesh’s first successful private airline company GMG was established by some of the members of this community. The most significant side of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims in Bangladesh are, they always uphold the spirit of inter-faith understanding and continue to confront religious extremism.


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