This article is part of a promising broader research project on the mode of operation and the position of Islamic development and relief organisations in Muslim communities. The author examines here the modus operandi of the Agha Khan Foundation and its Mountain Societies Development Support Programme in the Sunni peopled Rasht (former Qarategin) Upper Valley in central Tajikistan ― a country where religion and development aid are subject to ambivalent attitudes due to the controversial role of Islamist movements, and to the existence of a strongly secular political élite and urban intelligentsia. B. De Cordier pays particular attention to the ways of transcending the Sunni – Ismaili divide between aid providers and beneficiaries. He also evokes the recent social changes which increasingly challenge the MSDSP’s use of traditional local institutions ― village elders in particular ― for programme implementation.