If you look at what has happened in the past decades in the developing world, there are a number of lessons you can draw. And I think one of them is the volatility of development. To stabilise development in most of these fragile parts of the world, one of the fundamental principles is to develop strong institutions.

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Canada.com

The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims, all of whom must have been in Calgary Monday, judging by the traffic jams to get into any event he attended on his first visit here in 16 years. His most intimate function was lunch with 150 Calgary business and community leaders, many of whom were donors to a $5-million fundraising effort to kick-start a teacher training institute set up by the Aga Khan University in East Africa.

Thank you not only on behalf of the Aga Khan University, but thank you on behalf of millions and millions of people in Asia and Africa who need to believe in hope. That only happens when society moves forward in an organised and stable way (the Aga Khan told the group in the gentle, almost shy voice one might expect of someone with a commitment to humanity).

At his lunch, Prince Karim Aga Khan spoke briefly of the need to build stable institutions in the developing world. The Aga Khan University (AKU), established in Karachi, Pakistan a mere 25 years ago, is one such institution.

Spread over three continents with affiliation agreements that include one with the University of Calgary, it has had a profound impact on Pakistani society, focusing primarily on health and education, with half of its medical students female.

If you look at what has happened in the past decades in the developing world, there are a number of lessons you can draw. And I think one of them is the volatility of development. To stabilise development in most of these fragile parts of the world, one of the fundamental principles is to develop strong institutions.

AKU has achieved that in Africa and Asia, and we have achieved it with Canadian support and Canadian willingness to look at the developing world as it is, not as certain people would like it to be. I think our institutions have to function in societies that are changing, and your help is helping us to do that.

Golden Jubilee Souvenir Book

So I simply wanted to take this occasion to say thank you. Thank you not only on behalf of the university, but thank you on behalf of the millions and millions of people in Asia and Africa who need to believe in hope. And that only happens when society moves forward in an organised and stable way.

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