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.

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