By FAQIR ULLAH KHAN-GHULAM QADIR
(reporting from Aliabad, Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan Region)

At the invitation of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, our beloved Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, accompanied by his daughter, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, landed in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Thursday December 7, 2017, to commence his 12 day Diamond Jubilee visit to Pakistan. He was received at Nur Khan Airbase in Islamabad  by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, as well as the President of the Ismaili Council for Pakistan, Hafiz Sherali. Leaders of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and Jamati Institutions in Pakistan were also present at the airport to receive Hazar Imam. He is expected to hold meetings with government leaders in Islamabad before travelling to Chitral on the 10th, Hunza on the 11th, and Karachi from the 15th until 19th December for darbars and mulaqats with tens of thousands of members of the Ismaili jamat.

2017-12-07-PHOTO-00000013His Highness the Aga Khan being greeted on arrival at Nur Khan Airbase in Islamabad by  the Pakistan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Khawaja Muhammad Asif.

ah_14293e_theIsmaili_Aga khan DJ Visit Pakistan 2017His Highness the Aga Khan in a light moment with children who presented him with bouquets. Photo: The Ismaili/Akbar Hakim.

dsc_8646-f_theIsmaili_Aga khan DJ Visit Pakistan 2017Princess Zahra Aga Khan is greeted upon her arrival in Islamabad. Photo: The Ismaili/Fazal-e-Rabi.

20171207_Aga Khan arrival image3His Highness the Aga Khan smiles at jubilant scouts and guides on arrival at Nur Khan Airbase in Islamabad for the commencement of his Diamond Jubilee visit to Pakistan.

Darbar of Mawlana Hazar Imam in Aliabad, Hunza

The pictures in this page tell our story, and our feelings for our beloved Mawlana Hazar Imam. We are a resilient people. Everyone is working very hard! Our spirits are high, as we await the arrival of Hazar Imam to our regions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Your prayers and good wishes will go a long way in ensuring the success of this momentous event. 

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 022 Sadruddin SakhiThe Diamond Jubilee Band in the town of Passu.  Photo: Sadrudin Sakhi.

As I noted in my last post,  incredible preparations are underway in Chitral and Hunza to host darbars of Mawlana Hazar Imam in the presence of tens of thousands of Ismailis.  We, as a jamat, are receiving an immense amount of help and cooperation from our brother and sister Muslims to ensure that the Diamond Jubilee visit is a happy one for Mawlana Hazar Imam. Registration cards have been distributed, the grounds for the darbars, kown as didargahs, are being prepared, roads are being repaired, visitors from far-away valleys are being hosted by the local jamats, and final touches are being put at the didar site to make the darbar setting befitting of the historical occasion – 60 years of Imamat! Remember, we live in an area with extreme weather conditions. Fortunately, the weather is holding up well and is expected to remain reasonably good over the next few days. However, as I mentioned earlier we would be able to withstand harsh conditions for up to 10 hours if they come our way! Inshallah, that won’t happen.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 023 Sadruddin SakhiIsmaili girls pictured recently in the town of Passu. Jamati members in Passu will travel to Aliabad for the Darbar. Passu first hosted Mawlana Hazar Imam in 1987 and Ismaili youth had then inscribed welcome words on the slopes of the Cathedral Peaks. This time the words Diamond Jubilee have been added to another Didar Mubarak etching on the same mountain.  Please see next two photos for original and new etching on the mountain in Passu. Photo: Sadrudin Sakhi.

I come from Passu, a town that was privileged to hold Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit some 30 years ago. This time we are going to Aliabad, a little bit south of us so that it is easier for jamats to travel from Gilgit. Passu would be a little bit out of the way and would add considerable more time. Aliabad is very very fortunate – it will the fourth time they will be hosting Mawlana Hazar Imam. We are looking forward to this momentous event when tens of thousands of murids will be in front of the same spiritual father and mother, whose care and concern has uplifted us over the past several decades. We will be thinking of you, just as you thought of us and prayed for us that Hazar Imam should visit us. As you know, we did not get a visit during his Golden Jubilee that most Jamats received.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 073 Faqir UllahThe original welcome sign etched on the mountain in November 1987. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

We live in one of the remotest corners of the world. But as Ali Karim mentioned in a special Simerg photo essay after his visit to us in 2016, we are a very hospitable people, we speak good English, our literacy rates are very high and we want other jamats around the world coming and visiting us in the years ahead. It is the right place for the Ismaili youth of the jamat living in the western world to come to this area for adventure and an incredible experience that they will never forget. It would be of mutual benefit.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 021 Sadruddin SakhiDiamond Jubilee added recently to Didar Mubarak. Photo: Sadrudin Sakhi 

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 079 Faqir UllahOne of several bands performing at Aliabad, Hunza. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 055 Faqir UllahAmazing work underway to prepare for the Diamond Jubilee darbar in Aliabad. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 044 Faqir UllahMawlana Hazar Imam’s bungalow near the darbar site in Aliabad. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 045 Faqir UllahHelipad designed for at least two helicopters to land safely. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan  050 Faqir Ullah.jpgThe darbar preparation work was mostly done by the Jamati members of all villages of Gojal-Hunza. Here volunteers and workers are being served lunch. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 049 Faqir UllahTractors are unloading sand for concrete and filling the field around the stage area in Aliabad. Photo: Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 057 Faqir UllahThe fields around the didargah are arable crop fields but spared only for darbar now with 70 plus kannal of land around. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 063 Faqir UllahThis gate at the Aliabad darbar site was designed by the Sost Council. It contains inscriptions from a Persian poem by Kokab Peshawari. It is in praise of Mawlana Hazar Imam and the poem is mostly versed into songs and qasidas for Hazar Imam. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 064 Faqir UllahThis gate in Aliabad was designed by the Shimshal Council. It contains the logo of the Aga Khan Education Services (AKES) at top, above the words “Didar Mubarak”. On either side of the logo are heads of the Himalayan Ibex which is found in the higher mountain ranges of Hunza and Chitral. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 067 Faqir UllahThe security gate. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 069 Faqir UllahToilets facilities, and a volunteer busy fixing water taps. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 071 Faqir UllahThe darbar (or didargah) grounds in Aliabad, Hunza, with the Diamond Jubilee banner and the stage where work is still being done in the background. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 071a Faqir UllahA close-up of the the work-in-progress darbar stage. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan  078 Faqir Ullah.jpgJoyous occasion. A band, one of many, performs on a street in Aliabad, Hunza. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Aga Khan Visit Preparations Gilgit Baltistan 066 Faqir UllahOne more time, and one more person in photo – the Gate everyone is talking about. Designed by Sost Council, this gate at the Aliabad darbar site contains inscriptions from a Persian poem by Kokab Peshawari. The poem is in praise of Mawlana Hazar Imam and is mostly versed into songs and qasidas paying tribute to Mawlana Hazar Imam. Photo: Faqir Ullah Khan.

Date posted: December 7, 2017.

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Please watch Video: Mawlana Hazar Imam arrives in Pakistan at the Ismaili

Faqir Ullah Khan portraitFaqir Ullah Khan is originally from Passu, Hunza. He went to Karachi High School, and later studied Tourism and Hospital Management at Hazara University and COTHM, Pakistan, which offers international hospitality qualifications. Faqir is currently based in Abbotabad. Please visit his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/faqir.khan?ref=br_rs.

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Note: This blog, Barakah, is a special project of http://www.Simerg.com and has been undertaken to celebrate 60 years or the Diamond Jubilee of  His Highness the Aga Khan.