Entries with content relating to ‘Peace & Conflict’, in chronological order.

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Vist to Kazakhstan; ‘State Award for Peace and Progress’ Presentation Ceremony (Astana, Kazakhstan)

Kazakhstan has the potential to guarantee stability across the Central Asian region. By carefully positioning and investing its human and material resources, the country can help assure both social harmony and economic prosperity in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions…. I firmly believe that peace will be possible only when the pluralistic nature of human society is recognised, seen as a source of strength rather than weakness, and used as a basis for the formulation of policies and structures at all levels of governance.

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New York Times Interview, Dana Micucci (New York, USA) ·· incomplete

Philanthropic initiatives cannot be contemplated exclusively in terms of economics, but rather as an integrated programme that encompasses social and cultural dimensions as well….

[Strengthening pluralism] is critical to the development of peace and humankind in the 21st century. [But] we must educate for it.

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Bishkek Global Mountain Summit Keynote Address, Plenary Session (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)

AKDN’s work in mountain communities has shown that attention to a combination of critical elements at the field level can make a powerful difference. These factors include: working with or creating community organisations that can progressively operate on their own; providing matching funds for community level infrastructure projects, selected and built in large measure by the community; supplying credit and improved inputs to agriculturalists; and providing technical assistance to support agriculture and construction projects.

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Prince Claus Fund Conference on Culture and Development, Concluding Address (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

[T]he strengthening of institutions supporting pluralism is as critical for the welfare and progress of human society as are poverty alleviation and conflict prevention. In fact all three are intimately related…. The actions to enhance pluralism have to be matched in the developing world by programmes to alleviate poverty because, left alone, poverty will provide a context for special interests to pursue their goals in aggressive terms…. [Emphasis original]

Is it not high time — perhaps even past time, that a systematic effort be undertaken to document “best practices” by looking closely at the array of public policies and structures that support pluralism in particular national settings? As lessons are extracted and models identified, should not a process be put in place to share them widely for replication? Should not this effort reach out to as many countries as possible, and in as many organisational and institutional settings as can be mobilised? …

My hope is that society as a whole will not only accept the fact of its plurality, but, as a consequence, will undertake, as a solemn responsibility, to preserve and enhance it as one of its fundamental values, and an inescapable condition for world peace and further human development. [Emphasis original]

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Aga Khan Development Network and Government of Afghanistan ‘Agreement of Co-operation for Development’ Signing Ceremony (Kabul, Afghanistan)

Referring to “exploratory work for investments in telecommunications and in tourism,” the Aga Khan saw these as “stimulating a multiplicity of ancillary industries at the same time as serving an urgent need in the hospitality industry.” A major national initiative in micro-credit to promote entrepreneurship and build capital is under consideration with the possible involvement of the International Finance Corporation.

“[I]n each of these areas where we feel the greatest need for capacity building, we have been extremely conscious of the fact that opportunities must be created for women. This is why we are targeting women as major beneficiaries with regard to the income generation activities related to agriculture, the training of nurses, the professional education of teachers and for receipt of micro-credit.”

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Globe and Mail Interview (3rd), John Stackhouse and Patrick Martin (Toronto, Canada)

I have to tell you this is my own direct experience, many, many of these situations [of conflict] can be avoided [if] addressed in good time. Many of them. And I really assure you that this is the case. These pockets of extreme poverty, of frustration, of fear of some of these minorities, can be addressed by a direct, focused programme to bring them back into civil society so that they understand that they are not isolated and thrust outside the context of national mainstream.

And it is amazing how much can be done if you will go in with economic support, social services, dialogue, bringing communities together, focusing on hope in the future rather than looking backwards in despair. That looking backwards in despair is probably one of the most divisive forces that you will ever find in Third World countries….

I think that when you look at the development process, its strength is based on the people’s will to work for themselves. That’s clear. And we’ve seen that.

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CNN Interview, Judy Woodruff (USA)

I think there is a much better understanding of the sensitivity of these conflicts and how they become internationalised, how they go far beyond the frontiers of the area. I’m thinking of places like Sri Lanka, and I’m thinking even Northern Ireland. It’s not just the Islamic world. It’s these conflict situations which pollute and the disease just grows and grows and grows. And I think the lesson is that the civilised world today has to be a lot quicker to go into those areas and try to find workable solutions.

I am talking about diplomatic and economic solutions. Many, many of [these] issues or these areas are caused by communities who feel victimised who feel they are unable to achieve justice and so they turn to rebellion. Armed rebellion. And many of them really have historical roots. If you look at the Philippines, that situation’s been there since the mid-60s. You look at Kashmir, you look at the Middle East, you look at Northern Ireland — these are all situations which have been there for much too long, in my view.

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International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan (Tokyo, Japan)

His Highness the Aga Khan would like to announce today a multi-year financial commitment, which will be no less than U.S. $75,000,000, to enable the Aga Khan Development Network to conceptualise and implement a recovery, reconstruction and long-term development programme that will span many regions of the country. It will range in scope from agriculture-based rural development; food and seed security; rehabilitation of capital infrastructure; to the provision and upgrading of health and education services from the primary to the tertiary levels; institution and capacity building especially at the community-level; and the restoration of the cultural heritage for social inclusion. In this task, we will draw on our long experience, going back some 25 years, of the neighbouring region, including post-conflict Tajikistan, and the extreme poverty and inter-communal tensions of the isolated mountain regions of Northern Pakistan In all these areas, we will continue to work closely with other members of the international community.

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Philip Jodidio Interview (1st) published in Connaissance des Arts, ‘Bridging the Gulf’ (Paris, France)

The press, at least, gives the impression that similar radical attitudes exist in other Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia.

You are right. There are parts of the Muslim world where those tendencies are present and parts of the Muslim world that have sustained the Taliban. That just goes to confirm that there is no unanimity in Islam with regard to this form of interpretation. Generally speaking, you will see as much diversity in the Islamic world as you do in the Christian world today. That is one of the big problems. The West does not really understand the pluralism of the Islamic world. Things will continue this way.

The Islamic world has been exposed to your pluralism; we have been colonised for decades. We know a certain amount about the different interpretations of the Christian faith. Take the example of the Iranian revolution. Was the word “Shia” in the common language of the Western world before that? If you went around the West and asked what the difference between the Shia and the Sunni interpretations is, how many people could answer? Reverse the question, go into the Muslim world and ask what basic differences there are between Catholicism and Protestantism, for example, and many people would know. There is a gulf of misunderstanding, which is very deep indeed. It is very damaging because the Western world tends to interpret things on the basis of a lack of information and understanding of what is really happening.

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Public Address (Al Khwabi, Syria)

It is thus clearly evident that peace in the decades ahead can only be achieved when the pluralist nature of human society is understood, valued and built upon to construct a better future. In Islam, the pluralism of human society is well recognised, and the ethics of its multiple interpretations require that this diversity be accorded respect. The shahada — La-illaha-Illallah-Muhammadur-Rasullilah — binds a thousand million people who, over the centuries, have come to live in different cultures, speak different languages, live in different political contexts, and who differentiate in some interpretations of their faith….

Any differences must be resolved through tolerance, through understanding, through compassion, through dialogue, through forgiveness, through generosity, all of which represent the ethics of Islam.

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Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International Interview (Aleppo, Syria and Lebanon)

[Translation] Why is it that we have that impression — and it’s good, I think it is an advantage — that they [the Ismailis] are more modern, modern in the Western sense?

I think that it comes to the same question we discussed previously. Let’s go back. How did the Westerners learn about culture, about Greek philosophy? How did they learn it? They searched amongst philosophers, scientists, theologians. They went looking amongst the Muslim intelligentsia of that time, for translations, which had disappeared from their original state and, the Muslim world became a world of transition so that the West relearned its own history.

All right! What is happening today? I am saying to myself, that the Muslim World, at least the Ismaili community, we should not live outside the realities of our world. On the contrary, we have to absorb them make them work for us and to our advantage. And if there are organisational systems in the human society that work well today, or at least better than others, we would lack intelligence, not to say more, not to see what we can learn, what we can integrate, what we can remodel. Because we do not have to take everything. We should take what helps us. And that’s where that relation with the West looks important to me. One does not lose his identity; one does not lose his religion …

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Le Monde Interview, Henri Tincq (Paris, France)

[Google translation] Indeed, military intervention [in Afghanistan] may not be limited. In a country like Afghanistan where the Taliban decided to resist mountain by mountain, valley by valley, the war may last longer. But I repeat that the reconstruction work must begin now. It passes through the country’s liberation, but also by establishing a sort of safety belt around Afghanistan. The challenge is to stabilise the whole region. From Pakistan to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan, all its neighbours are in danger of destabilisation, religious radicalism and have an equal interest in the restoration of a legal situation. Tajikistan has only to end the civil war. The regional impact of pacification and stabilisation of Afghanistan can be considerable.

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Corriere della Sera Interview, Massimo Nava, ‘I am amazed by the ignorance on Islam’ (Italy)

[Translation] In fact, in the Shiite credence, one exalts the value of the intellect, of the spiritual guide, therefore of interpretation. But Western thought tends to confuse the bond between spirituality and secularism with a sort of compromise between State and Church. These are different levels, which involve the individual and the community in which one lives, not the political authority of the State. The Qur’an prohibits judging the way in which another Muslim practises faith, but it also prohibits the enforcement of a religious practice or of a faith.

In the world of Islam, which is nearly a fifth of the Earth’s population, there are significant examples of religious practices which conform to a moral concept of the faith. The Qur’an edicts the ethics of responsibility as an obligation for those who have civilian authority, to enhance the well being and the development of their community. This is something which the Taliban have not done and it is because of this that their regime condemns itself. In these conditions, Islam even says that trust in authority must be denied.

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Address to the two houses of the Kyrgyz Parliament (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) ·· incomplete

Within the Ummah it is a recognised and established historic fact that communities have the right to their own interpretation of the Faith. Whether it is the interpretation of one branch of Islam or of the other, of Sunni or Shia, whether of one tradition within either of those branches, or of another, the right of interpretation belongs to each individual….

[It is] important to remember that such situations are not unique in history — the Inquisition in Spain was every bit as cruel and destructive as any case that one can imagine…. What is not acceptable is any attempt to impose a particular interpretation on an unwilling individual or population. The Holy Qur’an says that there shall be no compulsion in religion. What is even worse, is when such an imposition causes degradation of all civilised standards of human behaviour.

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Address to the XIIIth International Meeting of Peoples and Religions, Special Session ‘Africa’s Rebirth’ (Lisbon, Portugal) ·· incomplete

A shared social ethic, underwritten by Africa’s faiths, can help resolve many of the problems afflicting Africa today…. I am unaware of a single situation where the faiths of Africa have sat down and asked themselves what policies and strategies are in place to offer long-term availability of health and education.

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Itar-Tass Interview, ‘Between Conflicting Sides’ (Dushanbe, Tajikistan) ·· incomplete

All the Afghans should promptly resume an open and fraternal dialogue, thereby turning Islamic peace ethics into a national reality and putting an end to hatred and division… [My] heart overflows with sorrow from the very idea that Muslims are now fighting against Muslims (whereas) it is necessary to respect the sanctity of life.

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Wall Street Journal Europe Interview, Philip Revzin (France) ·· incomplete

[Tajiks] are educated, sophisticated people who suddenly found they had no economic base left. The economic underpinning of society had literally collapsed. It had turned into a barter economy….

Most Ismailis in Central Asia live in isolated villages at high altitudes with poor communications. I hope there will be some possibility to develop some regional plans (that might encompass that part of China). I’m hoping that in time political and social relations might be such that these people could move more freely across frontiers that are in any case pretty ill-defined.

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