Living legend: Colleagues, friends pay tribute to Shoaib Sultan Khan

Published: November 25, 2014
Speakers said Shoaib’s life proved that one can excel and serve humanity even without clout or wealth. DESIGN: CREATIVE COMMON

Speakers said Shoaib’s life proved that one can excel and serve humanity even without clout or wealth. DESIGN: CREATIVE COMMON


Following in the footsteps of his mentor, the late Akhtar Hameed Khan, Shoaib Sultan Khan has emerged as a pioneering force for rural development and poverty alleviation in Pakistan.

These views were expressed by analysts at “An Evening with Shoaib Sultan Khan”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute as part of its “A Tribute to Living Legend Series” on Monday.

Former assistant secretary general at the United Nations Environment Programme Shafqat Kakakhel said Shoaib was the most loyal pupil of Akhtar Hameed Khan, who changed the lives of thousands of people through town planning.

After retirement from the civil service, Shoaib founded the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in 1992 and was chosen to head the UN Asian Rural Support Programme in 1994. He introduced rural support programmes in several South Asian countries including India.

Poet Kishwar Naheed said the silent personality of Shoaib is different from other “stiff-necked” civil servants. “He also has reflections of Faiz Ahmed Faiz in his personality. Shoaib is an excellent listener like Faiz Sahab,” said Naheed, terming Shoaib a darvesh.

PML-N Member National Assembly Daniyal Aziz said Shoaib helped him become what he is today. “I have not seen a better mentor, teacher and experienced man than Shoaib Sultan Khan,” he said.

Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University Quetta’s former vice-chancellor Dr Shahida Jafrey said Shoaib made villagers learn how to stand on their own feet.

Sharing praise, National Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Khawar Mumtaz said we saw in Akhtar and Shoaib how one can mobilise people to work for betterment of their living conditions. “Mobilising people and empowering them has remained their policy,” she said.

Shoaib was overwhelmed by sentiments expressed by his colleagues, friends, and admirers. “I do not know what to say, but the real credit goes to the one million people of Gilgit-Baltistan, professionals, volunteers and many others who turned my dreams into reality.”

While speaking about his relationship with his mentor, he said Akhtar showed him the right path, adding that he had never come across a man of his stature. “Akhtar was a complete human being. A man of peace, a walking encyclopaedia and was greatly influenced by Buddha; he called himself a Muslim Buddha.”

Former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Shamsul Mulk said that he first met Shoaib in 1963 but when he looks back, it appears he knows him from time immemorial. “What you and Akhtar did is the duty of every human being,” said Mulk, while addressing Shoaib and the audience.

Speakers said Shoaib’s life proved that one can excel and serve humanity even without clout or wealth. They further said that provincial governments should also replicate role models set by Shoaib, moulding their bureaucracies to actually work for the uplift of the poor rather than burying development schemes in files.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Samziz Sana
    Nov 26, 2014 - 12:14PM

    the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme was founded in 1982 please correct


  • Shahzaib Hussain Mahar
    Nov 27, 2014 - 1:26PM

    Well, for saying some admiring words for Sir Shoaib Sultan khan it doesn’t pay the complete tribute to the great personality. He was the man who visualized how to empower and sustain marginalized communities. Wonder how Guru of social mobilization firstly mobilized the authority to contribute and how mesmerizingly he implemented own vision. Finally all credit goes to pure intention and charismatic personality made all the ways in favor of his mission after long hectic journey in conclusion he has brought to show the world that now our marginalized communities can seek their basic rights to alleviate poverty and get education without relaying on state.


  • Rahman Shahi
    Nov 27, 2014 - 3:47PM

    Shoaib Sultan is the man who taught us that how a single penny counts and makes a huge difference. He introduced the concept of SAVING in our region through AKRSP. Today he himself is the eye witness of his long term struggle.A big tribute to this kind man who brought into mainstream the marginalized communities.


  • Aly Sakhi
    Nov 30, 2014 - 12:45AM

    Shoaib Sultan Khan was selected by Aga Khan IV (a grandson of Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah the Aga Khan III, a prominent leader of Pakistan Movement and first president of All India Muslim League) to devise a pragmatic development program for the mountain people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. The generous funding support from Canadian Development Agency (CIDA) made it possible to translate the dreams into reality. The model of rural development through organisation of people at grassroots level, organising people to perform communal work through social activism are widely replicated in Asian and some African countries. it is unfortunate that the model of rural development developed and tested in Pakistan is not well-recognised at national level but are being implemented in India and other countries.


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