Mehriban Aliyeva: First Lady of Azerbaijan - Moderate Face of Muslim World- By;Afshan Malik

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

When Mehriban Aliyeva, first lady of Azerbaijan and a dynamic political and public figurein Azerbaijan and the contemporary Muslim world, was appointed the first vice-president of the country, many became interested in learning her strong personality and moral values that formed her character.

Asa symbol of beautiful synthesis of western and eastern cultural traditions, she emerged as source of inspiration for the women of Muslim world. Being a champion of culture and art, she has contributed meaningfully to the preservation of Muslim and human civilization.

Afshan Malik - Writer

A woman leader, who has her own clear position and a civic stand, playsimportant role in political life of the country as a Member of Parliament, President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, as well as vice-president of Azerbaijan.

First Lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva was born in well-known Azerbaijani family of intellectuals.  Her grandfather was famous Azerbaijani writer Mir-Jalal Pashayev, her mother, Aida Iman Guliyeva was a prominent philologist and Arabist and her father Arif Pashayev is also a well-known scholar, the rector of the National Aviation Academy in Baku.

Actively engaged in different spheres through charitable foundation “Friends of Azerbaijani Culture” she founded in 1995, she promoted her country’s cultural wealth, by organizing cultural events, charity actions, and publication.

In 2004, Mehriban Aliyeva became the President of Heydar Aliyev Foundation named after the National Leader of Azerbaijanis Heydar Aliyev. The main goalsof Foundationare to support promotion and implementation of the policy guidelines aimed at the country's social, economic and cultural development, increase of living standards and further integration with the civilized world and to develop and implement various programs and projects in science, culture, healthcare, sports, and environment in Azerbaijan and in the world.

In this direction, Heydar Aliyev Foundation under her leadership has performed instrumental role in the construction of newhospitals, schools, colleges in various spots of Azerbaijan. Thalassemia Center with free of cost treatment was constructed in Baku in 2007. The Foundation initiated national campaign for breastfeeding and realized the summer camp for integration of disabled children into society.

In cultural sphere, Mehriban Aliyeva took steps in preserving Mugham-traditional classical music of Azerbaijan. The Foundation became instrumental in the establishment of International Mugham Centre in Baku. Annual Gabala International Music Festival that is attended by well-known musicians all around the world is also organized by the Foundation.

Being the land of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and harmony between people of different faiths, Azerbaijan ensured the religious communities to live and worship freely. In this regard, Heydar Aliyev Foundation reconstructed a number of mosques and shrines in Azerbaijan, including an oldest Buzovna mosque, St. Mary`s Catholic Church, orthodox church, in compliance with the project of “Azerbaijan - home to tolerance”.

Mehriban Aliyeva has been taking care of the world heritage as well. Financing renovation of Louvre Museum and the Palace of Versailles, stained-glass windows in France's Strasbourg Cathedral and reconstruction of Berlin City palace is an eloquent testimony to this purpose.

When Azerbaijan hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, one of the most prestigious event in Europe, in 2012, Mehriban Aliyeva led the Organizing Committee of Contest named “Light Your fire!”, completing the function successfully.

As a head of the Baku-2015 first European Games’ Organizing Committee MehribanAliyeva was conferred on the High Order - the highest award of the European Olympic Committee - by a decision of the European Olympic Committees’ Executive Committee, for her special services to the development of sports in Europe.

The leadership of Mehriban Aliyeva in Organizing Committee of Islamic Solidarity Games which took place in 2017, in Bakugave a tremendous result for achieving further friendship between the Muslim countries and contributed to strengthening cooperation in the Muslim world. The First Vice-President said that Azerbaijan is an integral part of the Muslim world. Azerbaijan establishes ties with all Muslim countries on the basis of friendship, brotherhood, mutual respect and achieved great success in this field.She said: We are proud to be a part of Islamic history and heritage, to share Islamic values and Islam is a religion of peace and mercy.

Thanks to her socio-humanitarian projects, Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded the title of Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO in 2004. The title of Goodwill Ambassador of ISESCO was conferred on her in2006 for her benevolent activities in different spheres.

As a manifestation of brotherly relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev Foundation started its charitable activities soon after thedisastrous earthquake of 2005 that resulted in heavy human losses and destructions.

The natural calamity left Muzaffarabad (AJK) in ruins and flattened school in Rara settlement.

Mehriban Aliyeva took an initiative to build a new modern school for girls in place of destroyed one in Rara, Muzaffarabad where had suffered a lot from the calamity. Consequently, 500 pupil school for girls was built. The Foundation regularly provides the school with school materials, books, computers and other means.

In 2012, the First Lady of Azerbaijan carried out a series of health care, education and humanitarian projects in the provinces of Pakistan. The hepatitis B vaccination and the open-heart surgeries were implementedin collaboration with Kulsum International Hospital at Edhi Home, Akbar Care Institute for Cerebral Palsy in Peshawar, Women and Children Hospital at Lakki Marwat. The same year, the Foundation joined the celebrations on the World Blood Donor Day in Peshawar, trying to raise awareness of safe blood and blood products, which are much needed.

First lady of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva donated a fully equipped ambulance and thousands of blood collection bags to Hamza Foundation that handles safe blood transfusion to the beneficiaries on voluntary basis. She also provided a financial support for the construction of a new block of Eye Hospital of Khyber Eye Foundation, Peshawar.

During the Holy Month of Ramazan, the Foundation hosted the iftari dinners, involving more than twelve hundred beneficiaries of Pakistan Sweet Home (Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal) orphanages in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Larkana, Nawabshah, Quetta, Zhob, Peshawar.

In September 2016, on the initiative and support of MehribanAliyeva, First Lady of Azerbaijan, a charity event was held in "Anjuman Faiz-ul-Islam" Orphanage, Rawalpindi on Eidul-Adha. sacrificial animals were offered in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on the days of Eid-ul-Adha for the residents of orphanages and other needy people. 

In April, 2017, Heydar Aliyev Foundation contributed to the Rara School for Girls textbooks, uniforms, computers, iron safe boxes, sports tools, visual materials, boards, children toys and some books, published by the Foundation, as well as themagazines and booklets about Azerbaijan in Urdu and English.

In June, 2017, on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, different food items in Ramazan packages were distributed by Heydar Aliyev Foundation as holiday gifts to 400 people of Abbotabad region.

In August, 2017, on the initiative of Mehriban Aliyeva, a charitable action was held in the National Institute for Special Education, Islamabad. Heydar Aliyev Foundation gifted teaching accessories, e-tablets, and various toys to centres for children with disabilities.

It is clear that social and humanitarian projects by Mehriban Aliyeva implemented in Pakistan isalso the manifestation of her sincere attitude towards Pakistan, and of solid friendly relations between the leader personalities of Azerbaijan and Pakistan.

Due to her activities and role in different spheres of life, Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded Legion of Honour order of France, Honorary Diploma of the State of Kuwait, Hilal-e-Pakistan civilian award of Pakistan, Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and Sretenjski Orden of Serbia.

Considering the facts mentioned above, it is seen that her appointment to the post of first vice president of Azerbaijan is not a coincidence. I am confident that Mehriban Aliyeva will continue implementing socio-humanitarian projects and benevolent actions in favour of humanity in future ahead too.