The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims and renowned philanthropist, spoke to The Globe and Mail Friday in a conversation that ranged from the prospects for Afghanistan to his profound admiration of Canadian pluralism.
On the day he received honorary Canadian citizenship, the Aga Khan urged the West to remain in Afghanistan for as long as necessary to achieve stability, and said he hoped Canada would continue to provide development aid after its military commitment expires in 2011. He offered one criticism of NATO’s plan, however, saying efforts should be concentrated on professionalizing the Afghan police, rather than the Afghan army, where NATO has focused its training.
The Aga Khan, who traces his ancestry directly to the prophet Muhammad, is seen as one of the Muslim leaders most closely engaged with the West. His foundation carries out development work in areas such as education and health care in Africa and Central Asia.
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