The Khaama Press News Agency of Afghanistan reports that the office of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on December 13 published a statement marking the 86th birthday of His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims.

“Today, we celebrate the 86th birthday of His Highness the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of millions of Shia Ismaili Muslims around the world, including the 100,000 Shia Ismaili Muslims who call Canada home.

“His Highness is a global leader in the fight for equality who, through the Aga Khan Development Network, has partnered with Canada to reduce poverty around the world, advance gender equality, and improve access to health care and education internationally, including the Ottawa-based Global Center for Pluralism and the Toronto-based Aga Khan museum – the first Islamic museum in North America, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau said.

“The Aga Khan, an honorary Canadian citizen, embodies Canada’s values of compassion, kindness and tolerance, and reflects our shared vision of a better, more equal, and more peaceful world.  This special year, we marked the 50th anniversary of the arrival of thousands of Ismailis in Canada after they were expelled from Uganda.  Since their arrival, they have become a vibrant part of Canada’s social and economic fabric and made our country a better place to live, Canada’s PM added.

“Today, I join people around the world in wishing the Aga Khan a very happy birthday and we wish him good health and happiness on this special day and for years to come,” said Mr. Trudeau.

Founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is dedicated to improving the quality of life of those in need, mainly in Asia and Africa, irrespective of their origin, faith, or gender.  Its multifaceted development approach aims to help communities and individuals become self-reliant.

In Tajikistan, the AKDN has been active since the country’s independence in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  In cooperation with its development partners, the AKDN has enabled social, economic, and cultural development initiatives over the last 30 years to improve the quality of life of the people of Tajikistan.

Several AKDN agencies collaborate to bring the government, private sector and civil society together, establish institutions and carry out programs to help with needs as diverse as banking, e-learning and avalanche prevention.  It covers all regions of Tajikistan and employ over 3,500 people in health care, education, business, finance and cultural activities.