In January 2018, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture hosted a gracious lunch to mark the anniversary of twenty-five years of continuous collaboration with the Royal Norwegian Embassy. The event took place at the gorgeous Lahore Fort, where Mr. Luis Monreal, General Manager of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, gave a heartfelt speech in which he highlighted the good collaboration between Norway and the Aga Khan network in Pakistan.
Over the years, The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad has supported many different development projects with the Aga Khan network. This includes disaster management, women’s rights, education, national resource management, community mobilization, poverty alleviation, sanitation and health services. However, the majority of projects have been together with Aga Khan Cultural Service (AKCSP) in the field of cultural heritage. Travelers to the mesmerizing Gilgit-Baltistan may have noticed this, as Norway has supported the restoration of old forts and palaces in Shigar, Kaphlu, Altit and Baltit. Currently, we are working together on the documentation and restoration of the Lahore Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
In his speech, ambassador Tore Nedrebø highlighted that AKCSP's experience in conservation and re-use of landmark monuments has demonstrated a close link between rehabilitation of historic settlements and promotion of tourism, as well as socio-economic development benefitting local communities. He also emphasized that its dedicated staff rightly deserve appreciation for their tireless work that has resulted in an amazing 15 UNESCO Awards in Pakistan.
Some of the flagship cultural projects that Norway has supported include:
- Restoration of forts and palaces in Shigar, Baltit, Altit and Khaplu.
- Establishment of the Leif Larsen Music Centre at Khabasi Garden in Hunza.
- Mapping and restoration of Wazir House in the Swat valley.
- Conservation of Shahi Hamaam (public bathhouse from the 17th Century) in the Walled City of Lahore.
- Conservation of traditional Hujra’s (small sitting place) in the outer wall of the Wazir Khan Masjid in the Walled City of Lahore.