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“Paradise Garden” Restoration to Revitalise Kabul


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Kabul, Afghanistan, 2 May 2002 - The Government of Afghanistan and the Municipality of Kabul today confirmed that the Aga Khan Trust for Culture will lead a project to enable reutilisation of the historic Bagh-e-Babur garden as a major public open space and also to rehabilitate neighbourhood residential dwellings and public sanitation facilities.

This confirmation follows the agreement last week under which the Trust launched a revitalisation initiative around the Timur Shah Mausoleum in the centre of the city. Both projects were first announced just over four weeks ago by His Highness the Aga Khan during his visit to Kabul.

“We see in the Aga Khan Development Network’s commitment and promptness on these major urban redevelopment projects, the confidence and conviction that we know others in the international community will want to share and support,” said H .E. Dr. Sayed M. Raheen, Minister of Culture. All of us in Afghanistan want to make our cities liveable and beautiful again.” 

“The Bagh-e-Babur will be an opportunity to combine our experience and interest with that of other active participants in the restoration process including UNESCO and DHSA (a local non-governmental organisation),” said Aly Mawji, Resident Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network. “Of particular interest to us is the shared concern for sustainability of such projects once initial rehabilitation has been undertaken.”

Besides developing a master plan, facilitating technical and material support, and overseeing restoration work, the Trust, through its newly created local entity, Aga Khan Cultural Services (Afghanistan), will help the Government and the Municipality establish a trust fund to enable revenues from any commercial outlets in the neighbourhood to be re-invested and assure sustainability.

The Bagh-e-Babur, a terraced and walled open space containing the tomb of the 16th Century Emperor Babur features the remains of what was the first Moghul “Paradise Garden” and the predecessor of many famous imperial gardens in the South Asian sub-continent. At walking distance from the city centre, the Bagh-e-Babur is now surrounded by informal residential settlements climbing up the hillside into which it is set.

The AKTC’s Historic Cities Support Programme is involved in similar significant conservation and redevelopment in sites in Bosnia, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and Zanzibar. Among them is the creation of a 30 hectare urban park on the edge of the historic Fatimid city in Cairo. The Afghanistan projects come under a comprehensive development agreement by the Aga Khan and Chairman Hamid Karzai last month covering the US$75 million commitment to reconstruction in the country announced by the Aga Khan Development Network in January this year.

Notes:
Through endeavours in various domains of culture, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture helps to better the quality of life for people in countries where Muslims have a significant presence.

It administers the world’s largest architectural prize. Its educational initiatives include: designing a humanities curriculum for universities and schools in Central Asia; offering graduate programs in architecture and related disciplines at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, managing the world’s first virtual on-line community for architects, planners and students (www.Archnet.org); and promoting the performance, preservation and study of musical and cultural traditions of Central Asia.

The Trust is part of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in Africa and Asia. The Network’s agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion and its underlying impulse is the ethic of compassion for the vulnerable in society.

For further information, please contact:
Mr. Aly Mawji
Resident Representative
Aga Khan Development Network
Kabul, Afghanistan
Tel: +873 761 839 877
Fax: +873 761 839 879
E-mail: aly.mawji@akdn.ch  

or

Dr. Stefano Bianca
Director, Historic Cities Support Programme
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture
Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 909 7000
Fax: +41 22 909 7291
E-mail: stefano.bianca@akdn.ch  

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