Mehriban Aliyeva: Hilal-e-Pakistan recipient serving humanity

On 11 February 2015, the First Lady of Azerbaijan, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO Mehriban Aliyeva was conferred the “Hilal-e-Pakistan” award of Pakistan.

This was for the first time when the first lady of a foreign country was awarded this highest order. The conferment of Azerbaijani first lady was acknowledgement of her services to Pakistan. Mehriban Aliyeva was brought up in the family of prominent intellectuals of Azerbaijan, she inherited respect for human values, love for poetry, arts and music. She got actively engaged in philanthropy in 1995, having enlightened the world about her country’s cultural wealth through her charitable foundation “Friends of Azerbaijan Culture”.

In 2004, Mehriban Aliyeva led Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which was named in commemoration of the National Leader of Azerbaijanis. The main goal of this foundation is the country’s social, economic and cultural development. The problems of children were always one of the main objectives of Mehriban Aliyeva’s activities. Construction of new schools, hospitals, clinics, musical lyceums, Thalassaemia Centre, launching projects of insulin and blood donation, campaign on breastfeeding, summer camp for integration of disabled children into society are the part of the charitable work in this domain. The regular moral, medical and financial support to destitute elderly is also given.

Another priority sphere of the Foundation is culture. That was why the Foundation initiated the days of Azerbaijani classic music Mugham in Niagara as well as established Mugham Centre in Baku. Sponsoring of performances of Antonio Vivaldi, George Gershwin music and publication of books on culture of Azerbaijan, the annual Gabala Music Festival, which is attended by prominent musicians from all around the globe also goes to the credit of Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Mehriban Aliyeva is enormously active in the preservation of the world heritage as well. Reconstruction of 14th century Strasbourg Cathedral and renovations at Palace of Versailles, establishment of the Islamic Arts Department at Louvre Museum sponsored by Aliyeva is a vivid manifestation of this activity.

In 2004 Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO in acknowledgment of hard efforts for protection and development of Azerbaijan’s verbal folk literature and music heritage. As well as, the title of Goodwill Ambassador of ISESCO was given to her in 2006 for the wide-scale and selfless activity in different spheres of life. It is pertinent to mention that Azerbaijan, where all religions live in harmony, is a striking example of the multiculturalism and tolerant relationship between the representatives of different faiths. The Azerbaijani first lady organized several international events on dialogue between the different faiths, striving for understanding and peaceful coexistence.

A number of mosques, Catholic and the Orthodox churches were reconstructed by foundation as a part of the “Azerbaijan – Home to Tolerance” project of the organization. Enormous attention is paid by Foundation to development of sports. Due to the growing prestige of Aliyeva, who is also a President of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, the capital city Baku hosted World Cup competitions 2003 and 2004 and the World Championship 2005 on Rhythmic Gymnastics. And, indeed, the First European Games held in Azerbaijan in summer of the current year, where Azerbaijani First Lady lead the Organising Committee has become a culmination point of Mehriban Aliyevas’ contribution to the promotion of sport in Azerbaijan.

Thousands of sportsmen and tourists from all over Europe got impressed with the level of organisation of this event. Also, having become the second in European Games Azerbaijan made a real surprise to the entire World and proved to be a prominent sports state. By a June 29, 2015 decree of President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, Mehriban Aliyeva was conferred the Heydar Aliyev Order for her great services to the organization of the 1st European Games as well as the activity associated with the development of culture, education and healthcare in Azerbaijan.

This Euro Games were not the first in the line of mega events organised and held by Mehriban Aliyeva. In 2012, Azerbaijan hosted the Eurovision Song Contest which is one of the longest running television shows in the world and the most prestigious contest in Europe. Mehriban Aliyeva led the organizing committee of contest and within a short span of time the “Baku Cristal” concert hall on the shore of the Caspian Sea was constructed. The specific works aimed at upgrading the urban infrastructure, expansion of communication technologies and improving highways have been fulfilled too. Thus, thousands of guests of Baku witnessed warmth and hospitality of Azerbaijanis and were impressed by rapidly developing Azerbaijan.

The year of 2005 is marked as a starting point of association of Heydar Aliyev Foundation with Pakistan. It happened soon after the devastating earthquake, when Mehriban Aliyeva had taken an initiative to construct a new school for girls in place of destroyed one in Muzaffarabad. The foundation regularly supplies the school with all necessary means and also pays monthly stipends to deserving students of the school. It is notable that after the complete reconstruction and renovation in 2012, the school was named after the First Lady of Azerbaijan.

Starting from 2012 the first lady of Azerbaijan initiated a series of healthcare, education, development and humanitarian projects in all provinces of Pakistan. Within the plan of action, the hepatitis B vaccination, check up and treatment were carried out at Edhi Home, Akbar Care Institute for Cerebral Palsy in Peshawar and Women’s and Children Hospital in Lakki Marwat. The foundation also donated fully equipped ambulance and thousands of blood collection bags to Hamza Foundation, which deals with safe blood transfusion to the beneficiaries on both sides of Durand Line.

In course of its activity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Aliyeva also made a financial assistance for the construction of a new block and waiting rooms of Eye Hospital of Khyber Eye Foundation and establishment of Thalassaemia Centre in Islamabad. During the holy month of Ramazan in 2012- 2015, the foundation hosted Iftars for the beneficiaries of Pakistan Sweet Homes and other orphanages in all four provinces of Pakistan. The Foundation also carried out action on Eidul Azha, distributing meat of hundreds of animals to the people of KPK, Punjab, and earthquake-hit Balochistan.

In 2014 the Foundation inaugurated Heydar Aliyev Water Supply Scheme of Tank district of DIK, KPK. As a result of it thousands of inhabitants of that area got access to the pure drinking water. Obviously, activity of Azerbaijan’s first lady in Pakistan serves to further strengthen and deepen brotherly relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan. It is remarkable that due to her activity in Pakistan, besides the Hilal-e-Pakistan order, Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the title of “Symbol of Humanity, “Woman of 2012” by “Women Volunteers Organization” and “Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Excellence Award” in 2013.

These awards of Mehriban Aliyeva stand in the line of other ones, those are the French Legion of Honor, state award of the Serbian Republic – the Sreten Order, “Ruby Cross” Order of International Charity Foundation of Russia, prize of WHO, Golden Heart International Award, Grand Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Poland, UNESCO’s Mozart Gold Medal, Canadian World Golden Rose Award, Honorary Diploma of the State of Kuwait and others.

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