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Updated: Jan 21 2002

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Mowlana Hazar Imam Visits Islamabad, Pakistan

Aga Khan due today

ISLAMABAD, March 9, 2002: The Aga Khan, Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, arrives here on Sunday for a short visit to Pakistan. The Aga Khan will meet with President Pervez Musharraf as well as senior government officials.

During this visit, he will attend the inauguration of the First Micro-Finance Bank, sponsored by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED).

The Aga Khan is also expected to be present at a ceremony to formally inaugurate the Islamabad Serena Hotel, developed and operated by Tourism Promotion Services, an affiliate of the AKFED.

Amongst the objectives of this visit are a review by the Aga Khan of the progress and future directions of programmes being undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network in the region.

Aga Khan arrives

ISLAMABAD—Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual head of the Ismaili Community, arrived here Saturday evening on a five-day visit.

He was warmly received at the PAF air base among others by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs, and Northern Areas, Abbas Sarfaraz, and members of the Ismaili community.

Prince Karim is scheduled to call on President General Pervez Musharraf, meet Ismaili community members and participate in the inauguration of the Serena Hotel. —APP


Begum Aga Khan honorary President Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) discusses the repatriation of Afghan refugees with Hasim Utkan, UNHCR Representative for Pakistan & Daniel Endres, UNHCR Deputy Head of Mission, Afghanistan in Islamabad on Sunday.

 Prince Karim Aga Khan in a meeting with the Minister of Finance Shaukat Aziz at the Awan-e-Sadar.
in Islamabad on Sunday.

Micro Finance Bank to serve rural and urban areas: Aga Khan
President asks private sector to help overcome poverty 

by Sharafat Kazmi

ISLAMABAD, March 12, 2002 —President General Pervez Musharraf has said a conducive policy framework and support mechanism has been ensured to encourage private investment in the micro finance sector and the private sector and development organisations must take full advantage of these measures to contribute towards real poverty eradication in the country.

He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the First Micro Finance Bank set up by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development here on Monday.

He said the establishment of Micro Finance Bank is a major private sector investment in Pakistan and will encourage other domestic and international entrepreneurs to invest in Micro Finance sector. He was confident that this bank will contribute positively and substantially the access of the poor to micro finance services.

General Pervez Musharraf said immediately after taking over, the government focused on strategic areas of economic revival, good governance, political restructuring and poverty alleviation. In fact poverty alleviation formed the focus of the strategy towards the well being and progress of the country.

He said poverty lies in rural areas, urban educated unemployed and urban uneducated unemployed. To overcome this problem the government economic revival programme concentrated on agriculture, information technology, small and medium industry and energy sectors.

He said the agriculture sector provides fastest development and employment to the majority of rural poor. The information technology addresses unemployment of the educated unemployed in urban areas while small and medium enterprises jobs to the uneducated and helps in economic revival. In addition the government launched the new Zakat strategy, Khushaal Pakistan programme, Food support and neutrition programme for girls.

Turning to the measures taken by the government to address the issue of micro financing, the President said the government designed the micro finance policy in June, 2000 and facilitated the establishment of Khushaali Bank. This Bank is expanding its operations to thirty districts and will be targeting one lakh house holds every year. The government provided legal supervisory and regulatory arrangements to ensure orderly development of financial sector.

To build social capital for the poor, a micro finance social development fund of forty million dollars has been set up in addition to community investment fund of twenty million dollars to increase access of the poor to micro financing. A risk mitigation fund of five million dollars has been created to assist the poor in case of unforeseen loss of their income. Twelve million dollars have been provided for institutional strengthening of micro finance institutions, the President said.

He said to compliment efforts of micro finance institutions, the government is restructuring the Agricultural Development Bank to focus on rural economy and sustenance of the poor. All this have been achieved in a period of less than eighteen months. The pro poor progressive system is moving forward. General Pervez Musharraf appreciated the gesture of Aga Khan Foundation in supporting government’s poverty eradication efforts. General Pervez Musharraf expressed extreme appreciation for the concern, involvement and commitment Prince Karim Aga Khan always shows towards Pakistan and its people.

The spiritual head of the Ismali community Prince Karim Aga Khan praised policies of the government to achieve a turn around and managing the economy. He said the favourable policy environment and private sector initiative in this field will work for the benefit of the needy in Pakistan.

Prince Karim Aga Khan said the decisions taken by the government will pave the way for brighter future of Pakistan and the Ummah. He offered the government of Pakistan full support of his person as well as institutions of Aga Khan Foundation in the development of the country and poverty eradication. He said he will seek to encourage other international and multi lateral organisations to engage with the development institutions dedicated to alleviation of poverty in Pakistan. He said the first Micro Bank will serve not only in rural areas but also major population centres and by June this year establish branches in Karachi and Rawalpindi.

He thanked the government of Pakistan for extending full support to the establishment of the Bank and said it is yet another sign of steadfast support and encouragement that the government is giving to the activities of Aga Khan Foundation.

The Chairman of the First Micro Finance Bank, Sultan Allana in his welcome address said that the initial paid-up capital of the bank is five hundred million rupees and the authorised capital one billion rupees. He said the institution aims at reaching out to those who are currently not able to receive adequate financial services. The bank will target under served population.


Musharraf praises Aga Khan for his services 

ISLAMABAD, March 11, 2002 —President General Pervez Musharraf will perform the inauguration of the First Micro-Finance Bank and the Serena Hotel, Islamabad, at two separate ceremonies here on Monday.

The First Micro-Finance Bank has been sponsored by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme while the Serena Hotel, Islamabad, is a project of the Tourism Promotion Services and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development.

The Spritual leader of the Ismaili Community, His Highness The Aga Khan held a detailed meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi Sunday evening.

The President thanked the Aga Khan for his invitation to inaugurate the First Micro-Finance Vabk and the Serena Hotel, Islamabad.

President Musharraf lauded the tremendous contribution to various philanthropic and social development programmes being undertaken by the Aga Khan worldwide, particularly in Pakistan.

He said that in addition to these projects, the Firat Micro-Finance Bank and Serena Hotel were a symbol of the Aga Khan’s continued commitment to Pakistan and its people.

During the course of the meeting, matters relating to investment climate in Pakistan, tourism development and various others aspects of socio-economic development came under discussion. The President informed Prince Karim of the measures that have been undertaken by the Government for the uplift of the people and its economic revival and reforms programmes.

The Aga Khan expressed deep appreciation of the policies of the Government.

He thanked the President for the help being extended to various ongoing projects and said that he had a deep personal attachment to Pakistan and the welfare of its people. He showed keen interest in the Government’s reforms agenda and assured the President of his continued assistance and cooperation for social sector development in Pakistan.

Prince Karim thanked the Government and the people of Pakistan for the hospitality and welcome accorded to him.—APP


Investors in tourism to get incentives: President

By Dawn Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 11, 2002: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has said the government is offering various incentives for making investment in the tourism and hotel industry. Inaugurating Islamabad Serena Hotel here on Monday, he said the tourism needed to be fully developed to attract local and foreign investment in Pakistan.

Characterizing the importance of the hotel, the president said it was not a matter of creating facilities for accommodation, catering and leisure alone, but that project added to the existing infrastructure that strengthened the economy, also in terms of employment and income generation.

He complemented the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development Network (AKFED) and its subsidiary, the Tourism Promotion Services, for making a very valuable contribution to private investment and employment opportunities in Pakistan.

The hotel project, Mr Musharraf said, was indeed a symbol of trust and confidence in the capital city. He said: "I am happy to learn that Pakistani material has been used in the building of the hotel".

Speaking on the occasion, Prince Karim Aga Khan said the tourism was a different industry which easily shied away when it perceived threats to security, to health, or from inequitable business practices.

Noting that Islamabad offered a rather different array of attractions in comparison to some of its immediate neighbours, he mentioned that Pakistan had considerable potential, not only in its wealth of natural settings, but also in cultural wealth of another type.

Referring to interest in ethnology of the northern areas, Aga Khan said these were of considerable fascination and originality to foreigners.


Musharraf urges donors to help end poverty

By Dawn Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD, March 11, 2002: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has called upon the international donors and the private sector to help remove poverty by extending adequate grants and loans specially for the establishment of micro-finance banks in the country.

"My government has created a policy framework for investment in the micro-finance banking and now the international donors and the private sector should invest in Pakistan and take the advantage of our liberal policies", he added.

Inaugurating the first Micro Finance Bank in the private sector set up by the Aga Khan Foundation here on Monday, the president said that poverty alleviation was one of the major targets of the government which needed support of the multilateral agencies. Prince Karim Aga Khan, federal ministers and members of the diplomatic community also attended the function.

He said that the government has decided to restructure the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan to mainly target the rural population for poverty alleviation.

The president listed economic revival, good governance, political restructuring and the poverty alleviation as the major goals of his government. He said since 70 per cent of the population lived in rural areas, so the government was trying to start various projects there to remove poverty.

"Our 70 per cent population is really poverty stricken and deprived which requires the utmost attention of the government". He said that the agriculture was being developed in such a manner that people of the rural areas should get jobs there without moving into the cities.

He said there existed poverty in urban illiterates and urban unemployed youth who were being offered jobs in the energy sector, information technology and the small and medium enterprises.

"The economic revival lies in poverty alleviation and the setting of more and more micro-finance banks in the private sector will certainly help to address the serious issue of poverty in our country", the president added.

The fast track economic revival strategy, he pointed out, has been provided by his government which had been made the basis for tackling old and unattended serious problems. He said small and medium enterprises were the better means for creating jobs.

He said that first Micro Finance Bank (Khoshhali Bank) in the public sector has been established last year which was providing small loans to help people to start their own businesses.

This bank, he said, was covering 30 districts and providing average Rs20,000 to Rs50,000 loans to 20,000 households. He said every year 100,000 households will be provided loans by the Khoshhali Bank. "In the next five years we will be able to extend small loans to 500,000 households". However, the president made it clear that nobody will be allowed to misuse funds that were being arranged by the government through its own resources as well as from the foreign agencies.

He said there will be an effective supervision and regular monitoring so that there could be some real poverty alleviation. In this behalf he praised the Asian Development Bank for providing generous financial support to the government.

Various funds amounting to $40 million, $20 million $12 million and $5 million had been created to help the poorest of the poor. The last loan of $5m, he said, has been created for covering infrastructure losses of the loanees.

The president said that the establishment of first Micro Finance Bank by the Aga Khan Foundation was a right step in the right direction which should attract new local and foreign investment for poverty alleviation. "This bank will encourage others and substantially offer micro finance banking services to the people", he said.

Gen Musharraf regretted that out of 6.5 million poorest of the poor households, only 5 per cent has an access to seek small loans from the concerned agencies and banks. "This is due to cruel terms of the banks which in fact make people their hostage", he said.


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