People walk through the special gate of Didargah in Aliabad, Hunza, on Sunday. — Dawn
People walk through the special gate of Didargah in Aliabad, Hunza, on Sunday. — Dawn

GILGIT: Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili community, reached Gilgit-Baltistan on Sunday, where he addressed huge congregations of followers in Yasin valley of Ghizer district and Hunza Aliabad.

Floral gates had been erected to the Didargahs (the glimpsing places), which were well-carpeted.

About 100,000 followers were estimated to be in attendance in the Yasin valley congregation.

After performing the ritual of Didar in Yasin valley, Aga Khan arrived in Hunza Alibad at noon for performance of second Didar, where he delivered the sermon to a large congregation.

It was compulsory for each participant to have an invitation card in order to be able to attend the Didar.

The community is celebrating the diamond jubilee of the imamat of Prince Karim Aga Khan.

During his sermons, Aga Khan, also known as Shah Karim al-Hussani, suggested his followers to remain loyal to Pakistan and play their role for religious harmony.

He said morality, education and peace were tools for success. He assured to play his role for development of remote areas of the country. “Agha Khan Development Network will continue its services for betterment of people in the region,” he said.

The Ismaili community’s spiritual leader is on a 13-day visit to Pakistan on the invitation of the government.

Rustam Ali, a resident of Yasin valley, declared Sunday the happiest day of his life when he had an opportunity to have Didar of his spiritual leader Aga Khan, the 49th imam of Ismaili Muslims, in his native village.

“It is our obligation to host all relatives and friends who come for Didar of our spiritual leader in our area,” he said. He said the local people had not only vacated their homes for outsiders but also set up tent villages to accommodate the guests.

Welcome camps had also been established at various places across Gilgit-Baltistan and banners displayed along the roads on arrival of the prince.

Personnel of GB Scouts, police, and Pakistan Rangers had been deployed at various places to ensure foolproof security for the events.

Earlier, Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, cabinet members and military and civil officials received the prince at the Gilgit airport.

Faizullah Faraq, the GB government spokesman, said the people had set an example of religious harmony on arrival of Prince Karim Aga Khan in the region.

He said people belonging to other sects had also displayed welcome banners and helped in the arrangements for Didar rituals. He said the government had helped set up Didargahs in Yasin and Ghizer.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2017