Dushanbe, 22 October 2011 – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe today, where she held a town hall meeting to help promote the US-sponsored New Silk Road Initiative. 

Several hundred people attended the gathering, including various members of Tajikistan's civil society, local and international development organisations, media outlets, representatives of the Aga Khan Development Network and Jamati leaders.

Secretary Clinton was accompanied by Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Assistant Secretary South and Central Asian Affairs, Lynne Tracy, Director for Central Asia with the National Security Council, and His Excellency Kenneth Gross, Jr., US Ambassador to Tajikistan. They were received by AKDN Resident Representative Munir M. Merali, who welcomed them upon their arrival at the Ismaili Centre.

“I wanted to thank the Aga Khan Development Network for supporting this forum and working so hard to create opportunities for the Tajik people,” said Secretary Clinton in her opening remarks. She also thanked the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe “for hosting us in this truly beautiful, impressive building here.”

The “Town Hall with Women, Youth, and Civil Society” highlighted some of the critical challenges facing the region. Secretary Clinton discussed the potential to create employment especially among the youth and women, attract foreign investment, and integrate regional economies.

“We are working with the Aga Khan Development Network to support new energy, to build an integrated energy grid along the Tajik-Afghan border,” said Clinton, who cited the successful private-public-partnership of PamirEnergy; a rehabilitated hydropower station in South Eastern Tajikistan. “We want to spur growth, create jobs, invigorate the private sector and fully integrate Tajikistan into the South and Central Asian economy.”

At the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe in 2003, Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed hope that it would be “a place where people will come together to share their creativity and their wisdom,” and like other Ismaili Centres around the world, it would “enhance the process of understanding and exchange.” The town hall meeting was conceived in this spirit. Secretary Clinton granted interviews to local and international media outlets, and met the AKDN Resident Representative before departing.