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Friday, July 11, 2008

Dr Akhter Hameed Khan By Rina Saeed Khan

“Pakistan’s development will not come from the top, it will come from the bottom, and it will happen in pockets — one island formed here, one there and one island will be made by you…” read the large banner inside the National Library in Islamabad where we had all gathered last week for the Dr Akhter Hameed Khan annual memorial lecture.

All of us under one roof to celebrate the life and work of one of most visionary individuals this country has produced. Dr A. H. Khan passed away in 1999, but his work lives on in the people he inspired and taught and the communities he organised and developed.

I was fortunate enough to have met Dr A. H. Khan once in my life, at a UNDP workshop held just a year before he died. It was his humility which immediately struck me. Dr A. H. Khan was a Sufi in the highest sense of the word — not only was he committed to its central principles of simplicity, tolerance and peace, but he practiced self-denial all his life, never accepting well-paying jobs or a lavish lifestyle. In his address to the participants, he made it clear that development work is like the work of a Sufi — a mystic is not driven by greed and he does not preach. He serves people and teaches others by setting a personal example. Dr A. H. Khan related his own experiences in the Indian Civil Service (he later resigned from the ICS to become a locksmith — during this period in his life he learnt to live with the poor as one of them) and the Orangi Pilot Project. He words were simple and clear — yet they contained profound wisdom and often he would lapse into Urdu and Persian poetry to illustrate a point (he was fluent in almost half a dozen languages).

Dr A. H. Khan has contributed to some of the most important development thought in this country. Not many people are aware that aside from setting up the world-renowned Orangi Pilot Project in Karachi, it was his philosophy and experience that formed the basis of the highly successful Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) established in the mountainous northern areas of Pakistan by his student and friend, Shoaib Sultan Khan. Dr A. H. Khan served as an advisor to the programme for many years, and today the AKRSP has virtually transformed the Northern Areas.

[thank you rina]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Web site about Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan:

January 15, 2009 6:15 PM  

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