The first PhD to live at the Edhi Home makes final journey

The challenges of life did not stop Qureshi from pursuing her dreams.

Rabia Ali August 15, 2012

KARACHI: One of Pakistan’s first few women to earn a PhD, BB Qureshi, passed away in her sleep on Wednesday morning. Qureshi, who caused a bit of a stir after she moved into the Edhi centre rather than live with her family, was 89.

Born into an educated family in Muradabad, India in 1922, she went to Aligarh Muslim University to pursue her BA and an MA in Economics. Not completely satisfied, she went to Trinity College in Dublin and completed a PhD in agricultural economics before returning to Islamabad.

Years teaching

Education being her first love, Qureshi remained single her whole life. After partition, her family moved to Rawalpindi where Qureshi taught economics at a government college. She taught for several years in Africa and claimed the honour of having taught the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, in Ghana.

When she finally returned to Islamabad after years of teaching abroad, she was so disappointed at the standard of education that she decided not to teach anymore.

Time at Edhi

Upon returning to Islamabad, she was not only unhappy with the standard of education but also the way her brother treated her and decided to shift.

As a result, she ended up in Karachi and decided to live at the Edhi shelter for homeless women in North Karachi. Humble as always, she chose to share a room with women with special needs and psychiatric illnesses, rather than live separately.

“This is my home. I am happy to be here,” she told the media in an interview a while back. Even the Sindh governor, Ishratul Ebad, offered Qureshi to stay at his house, but she refused. Last December, however, her relatives living in Karachi forced her to move in with them.

A representative of the centre, Dr Farhana Jawaid told The Express Tribune that Qureshi returned to the centre this February and vowed that she would not to go back. “She wanted to be independent and not become a financial burden on anyone, not even her family,” said Jawaid. She added that she was a jolly figure, always smiling and mingled with everyone. She was, however, bedridden for the past month and was surviving on liquids.

According to officials at the Edhi home, the woman was so disheartened by her family that she did not want them to have her body and wished to be buried at the Edhi graveyard. An Edhi spokesperson, Anwar Kazmi, said that her burial would take place on Thursday. “Since she was a prominent figure, proper arrangements will be made for her funeral.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.


Mohammad ali Gaad | 9 years ago | Reply

What a spirit, She remained there at edhi while was forced by Many.

Naqeeb Jehan | 9 years ago | Reply

Highly unfair! My critique of the way my comment has been treated is posted while the position which I take on this issue is not allowed for debate. Is this what we call promotion of dialogue with journalistic facilitation? No room for the difference of opinion I believe! Why do we blame the political culture when media is silencing those who criticise sensationalism and remind the journalists of their responsibility to sensitize the society on real issues which can be resolved with individual as well as collective sense of social responsibility. Ours is one of the best countries in the world and the most precious gift of Providence. Please begin valuing this land before it is too late. Do not sing the praise of West to us. If they embrace you, please go and leave this country where you find nothing but all kind of imaginable problems.

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