Recent developments of Imamat activities across the globe have witnessed acceleration and scaling up of several Imamat & AKDN initiatives in Africa, America, Asia and Europe. These engagements and partnerships have led to the mutual formalization of ties between host countries and the Ismaili Imamat through various agreements, protocols of cooperation, MOUs and treaties leading to appointments of accredited heads of mission (ambassadors, high commissioners, and others) who represent the Ismaili Imamat and vice versa. The privilege of diplomatic reciprocity highlights the institutional capabilities, influence, reputation for quality and positive outcomes the Ismaili Imamat has in the commonwealth of nation states.
Interestingly, Article 2, of the Ismaili Constitution (1998), the Ismaili community’s enabling document eludes to these emerging roles.*
Presented below is the Ismaili Imamat’s Diplomatic Corps.
Senior Officials of the Global Seat of Ismaili Imamat (Portugal)
- Nazim Ahmad, Head of the Department of Portugal and other Lusophone Countries
- Ambassador Arif Lalani, Head of the Department of Diplomatic Affairs
- Dr Shafik Sachedina, Head of Community Affairs
- Jane Piacentini- Moore, Head of the Department for International Financial Affairs
- Maitre Laurent Chambaz, Head of the Department for International Legal Affairs
Personal Representatives of the Imam
- Prince Amyn Mohammed Aga Khan is the (Non-Resident) Personal Representative of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan to Bangladesh.
- Prince Rahim Aga Khan is the (Non-Resident) Personal Representative of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan to Canada.
- Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Gordon Campbell, is also Canada’s Ambassador to the Ismaili Imamat.
Ismaili Imamat’s AKDN Resident Representatives
- Afghanistan: Nurjehan Mawani, Order of Canada
- Bangladesh: Munir M. Merali
- Canada: Dr. Mahmoud Eboo
- East African Community (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda): Mahmood Ahmed (Past AKDN Resident Representative to Uganda)
- Kenya: Aziz Bhaloo
- Kyrgyzstan: Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz (Pakistan), Officier de l ‘Ordre National du Merite (France)
- Mali & West Africa (Burkina Faso; Côte d’Ivoire; Senegal): Ferid Nandjee
- Portugal, Mozambique and the Lusophone countries: Nazim Ahmad, Comendador da Ordem do Mérito (Commander of the Order of Merit)
- Syria: Mohamed Saifo
- Tajikistan: Ali Akbar Pesnani
- Tanzania: Amin Kurji, Légion d’Honneur (France’s Legion of Honour)
- Uganda: Amin Mawji, Order of the British Empire (OBE)
AKDN Resident Representative is a position similar to an ambassador. While the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a non-denominational entity, it is supranational in the context of its reach and operations. AKDN is a contemporary endeavor of the Ismaili Imamat to realize the social conscious of Islam through institutional action and it is inspired by the ethics of Islam as interpreted by the Shia-Alid tradition. As Imam – Spiritual Leader of the Ismailis, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan has emphasised the view of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith, one that teaches compassion and tolerance and that upholds the dignity of man, Allah’s noblest creation.
The diplomatic reciprocity AKDN enjoys in the global diplomacy arena speaks of the importance of the contribution, impact and relevance the Ismaili Imamat has in the community of nations in modern times.
According to Wikipedia, an ambassador is an official envoy, especially a highest ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state, or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment. The “ambassadors” to the Commonwealth of Nations are known as High Commissioners and “ambassadors” of the Holy See are known as Papal or Apostolic Nuncios.
- Note: The global Seat of the Ismaili Imamat and its Senior Officials are not mentioned in the current edition of the Ismaili Constitution (1998), but the spirit and essence of the emerging institutions and their resources are present in the document. Mawlana Hazar Imam – His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan may at relevant times update the Ismaili Constitution to reflect new developments and needs of the global community.
Translation, Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali