Oxford launches book on rural development in South Asia

Seen in the photograph are (from l to r): Ghazi Salahuddin, Editorial Director, GEO; Muhammad Amjad Saqib, Executive Director, Akhuwat; Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press Pakistan; the Chief Guest, Shaukat Tareen, Finance Minister of Pakistan; and Shoaib Sultan Khan.

Islamabad, 14 Oct.: Oxford University Press launched its publication The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme: A Journey through Grassroots Development written by Shoaib Sultan Khan. The book relates the story of participatory development experience in the rural areas of South Asia. The lessons learned in rural development, based on the author's work over the last fifty years in various areas of South Asia, are narrated in the context of working within the system and living within the means. The basic principles of rural development are described through the process of engaging rural men and women to shape their lives. Operational details of interaction between communities and professionals are combined with inspirational content on the efforts of these people to ignite hope and offer guidelines for changing the lives of the teeming millions by mobilizing their own potential. The book also provides personal insight into the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, an ambitious and successful sustainable development programme that was initiated by Shoaib Sultan at the behest of the Aga Khan, a patron with long term commitment to sustainable development.

Shoaib Sultan Khan has served for 25 years as a CSP Officer in the Government of Pakistan, 12 years with the Geneva-based Aga Khan Foundation and 14 years with UNICEF and UNDP. Since 2005 he has been involved with the Rural Support Programmes of Pakistan as honorary Chairman of Rural Support Programmes Network (RSPN), National Rural Support Programme (NRSP), Sindh Rural Support Organization (SRSO), Ghazi Brotha Taraqiati Idara (GBTI) and as honorary Director of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP), Punjab Rural Support Programme (PRSP) and Balochistan Rural Support Programme (BRSP). Shoaib Sultan is a recipient of the Magsaysay Award, World Conservation Medal, and Hilal-e-Imtiaz.

The launch ceremony, held at the National Library, was well-attended by people from the development sector, policy makers, academics, and media. Shaukat Tareen, Finance Minister of Pakistan, was the Chief Guest at the launch whereas Sartaz Aziz, Vice-Chancellor, Beaconhouse National University, was the Guest of Honour. While lauding the important role the author has played in the rural development sector, the speakers Ghazi Salahuddin, Editorial Director, GEO, and Muhammad Amjad Saqib, Executive Director, Akhuwat, pointed out that the book is a valuable addition to the knowledge on people-centred development and evidence-based advocacy for policy change conducive to sustainable development. In her introductory address, Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press, said that the book has been distilled from the richness of the author's experience. She added that it has a highly readable style and will furnish many useful insights to those who are already in the field of rural development or plan to enter it, especially in the South Asian environment.