The Ismaili Canada (TIC): The DII was formally opened on December 6, 2008. What is its purpose?
Dr Eboo: The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat serves as a representational space for the Imamat and its institutions. It acts as the Imamat’s ‘embassy’, the Imam’s residence in Canada, the base for institutional offices, and provides a unique space for constructive exchanges to facilitate new and open thinking to major problems. The Delegation is utilized to deepen the longstanding relationship between the Ismaili Imamat and Canada, and present new opportunities for global collaboration.
TIC: And what is your role as the AKDN Representative to Canada?
Dr Eboo: The Representative’s role has three elements in the context of the Imamat’s multiple and extensive relationships with Canada. First, to ensure that the various Imamat interests in the country are cohesive, coordinated and aligned to a common set of Imamat goals. Second, to facilitate Canada’s interests in areas of the world where the Imamat and AKDN operate and provide platforms for opportunity. Third, to play the more traditional role of an ‘ambassador’ insofar as government relations are concerned. This means working with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and various ministers and Canadian heads of mission to countries where we operate as well as with the ambassadors from the countries where we have a presence.
TIC: How does the Imamat manage relations with the governments of the countries in which the AKDN has a presence and/or the Jamat resides?
Dr Eboo: Mawlana Hazar Imam created the Department of Diplomatic Affairs in 2001/2002 to provide a formal basis for the Imamat’s engagement internationally under the direction of Dr Shafik Sachedina. With the establishment of the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal in June 2015, Mawlana Hazar Imam appointed Mr. Arif Lalani, formerly Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, as head of Diplomatic Affairs from Portugal. To date, Hazar Imam has appointed 13 official Representatives, including myself, following the signing of formal agreements. They are usually not citizens of the country they have been asked to serve in. In Canada, my office is fully integrated into the diplomatic circuit. The government has afforded us several privileges reflective of the role of a diplomatic representative. It is important to note that the AKDN Representative has to work harmoniously with the president of the Ismaili Council. While each has their own distinct mandate, the two roles are complementary. Note that in some regions of the world there is an AKDN Representative but no national Council.
TIC: Thank you very much.