When restoring Baltit Fort, in Hunza, Pakistan, it was the aim of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture to use the restoration as a catalyst for the generation of new employment opportunities, the provision of training in jobs that were needed for a changing economy and the creation of new forms of governance to maintain and protect the area’s rich cultural heritage.
Once these restoration projects were completed, Town Management Societies were charged with defining future strategies and creating local institutions capable of operating and maintaining the restored landmark buildings and settlements. In Karimabad, the Northern Areas Town Management Society, comprised of local business leaders and officials, meets regularly to discuss zoning, the regulation of construction and other aspects of town development. The Society, which was created with the assistance of the Trust in 1991, also authorises and implements improvements, such as the provision of electricity, water and sanitation.
Local NGOs have also been groomed to revive and market traditional local crafts, such as weaving, embroidery, woodcarving or gemstone production. In another settlement where the Trust worked, the Ganish Khun Heritage and Social Welfare Society combines conservation, rehabilitation and maintenance of the village with a wide range of social projects. Sales of entrance tickets to the complex generate income for the collective use of the community.
The success of these efforts has been studied by other communities. The rehabilitation movement has now spread to other parts of the Northern Areas. Many historic villages, such as Altit, Shigar and Khaplu, have been or are being upgraded with assistance from the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.