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

Published: August 16, 2012
Dressed in a pink shalwar kameez, B B Qureshi met Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad with Bilquis Edhi. Qureshi passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 89. PHOTO: FILE

Dressed in a pink shalwar kameez, B B Qureshi met Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad with Bilquis Edhi. Qureshi passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 89. PHOTO: FILE

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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Reader Comments (44)

  • Vikram
    Aug 16, 2012 - 1:10AM

    Author noted, 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.

    It is good she had a place to stay.


  • Iron
    Aug 16, 2012 - 1:14AM

    All I can say for her is rest in peace. We don’t value our qualified people, if she was in western country then she would have atleast ended up with paid up house.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Aug 16, 2012 - 1:28AM

    The is one of the example’s of “JHOOTAY RISHTAY” in Pakistan where personal interests of real brothers and sisters have ruined the lives of many financially weak real brothers and sisters in the country.

    May Al-Mighty Allah rest her soul in peace. Aameen.


  • Aamir, Toronto
    Aug 16, 2012 - 1:52AM

    إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ

    I pity her family who is so unfortunate


  • Aug 16, 2012 - 1:55AM

    May Allah Bless Her


  • salo
    Aug 16, 2012 - 2:05AM

    RIP BB qureshi


  • ?
    Aug 16, 2012 - 2:06AM

    It is wonderful life!


  • S.H
    Aug 16, 2012 - 2:07AM

    May her soul rest in peace.


  • FJ
    Aug 16, 2012 - 2:36AM

    RIP madam, I wish I had an opportunity to spend some quality time with you.


  • Dr Ashraf Niazi
    Aug 16, 2012 - 3:12AM

    Thankyou for not writing that she was the first phd in the country as being falsely reported by other sections of the media. As far as I remember DR Abdus Salam was the first phd getting doctorate in 1951.


  • NT
    Aug 16, 2012 - 3:26AM

    Rest in peace… I am sure she is at a better place now. May Allah almighty bless her soul…smeen.


  • Truth From Pakistan
    Aug 16, 2012 - 4:11AM

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajeoon !


  • TheOne
    Aug 16, 2012 - 4:51AM

    I always hear prideful boasts about how Pakistan doesn’t need old age homes because we don’t let go of our elders but the world is unfortunately not as pristine we’d like it to be. Even having children is not a guarantee that they will treat you with kindness or share their home with you.

    I hope she attains Jannat-ul-Firdous for all the good deeds she has done.


  • Zohaib Uddin Khan
    Aug 16, 2012 - 5:19AM

    RIP. May Allah bless her. (amin)


  • Sarwat
    Aug 16, 2012 - 5:39AM

    This nation has never valued its out-standing persons……and this is the reason behind its downfall. . . .
    What to do with gratituting her when she left us for ever and her heart havent came to feel the pride she deserved.
    We as a nation cant have any good till we are able to evaluate the diamonds out of glass and marble.


  • Fahad Raza
    Aug 16, 2012 - 5:41AM

    Her journey of life ended in a Holy month. What a blessed soul..May Allah SWT Accept All her good deeds


  • Aug 16, 2012 - 7:04AM

    We are truly a thankless lot of people. We show no respect for the elderly, qualified and proven persons. The lady taught former Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan. What a singular honor for Mr. Kofi Annan to have received education from a distinguished lady.

    It pains me to read what has been published and the only suggestion for our groups and conglomerates is to form a ‘Council of Elders’ whose advice can be sought on important matters.

    May Allah Allmighty in His infinite bounty grant her Paradise. RIP BB Qureshi. Salams


  • A
    Aug 16, 2012 - 7:11AM

    May Allah bless her and award him best possible place in Jannah.


  • AIN
    Aug 16, 2012 - 10:18AM

    May God never put any one in such life tragedy…..


  • V K Bajaj (Delhi)
    Aug 16, 2012 - 11:39AM

    Very sad news. However, the last line ““Since she was a prominent figure, proper arrangements will be made for her funeral.” is well in time.

    Earlier (around 5 months back) Tribune carried an article on her and I shared comments that her ex-students and civil society should come forward so that she may live with full caring. Too many seconded my idea.

    Though physically she is no more with us but some questions are still alive as who who was or were responsible for such a life of a well educated and cultured lady, who devoted her life to serve nation by educating thousands:

    She would live with us (If not physically) forever.Recommend

  • farhan
    Aug 16, 2012 - 12:22PM

    Heart has become heavy to hear that. May ALLAH rest her soul. By the way she is so lucky to died on 27th Ramdan.


  • Anonymous
    Aug 16, 2012 - 12:57PM

    @Dr Ashraf Niazi:
    she was actually as mentioned here “One of Pakistan’s first few women to earn a PhD” so in terms of women, she probably is amongst the first few


  • Yousaf Ali
    Aug 16, 2012 - 1:58PM

    May Almighty Allah rest her soul in eternal peace. Ameen


  • Gulzar Kandrani
    Aug 16, 2012 - 3:35PM

    Here we all are missing an essential point that she was unmarried hence died in desperate condition. If BB. Quraishi had a married life, her children or grandchildren, she would not have died in such a lamentable condition.

    In Islam, there are great dues of parents to their offspring. Anyhow, there are innumerable such examples to quote here. In a net shell, tobe knotted off with someone is utmost mandatory for passing happy life with family and family is which someone herself/himself develops.
    Brothers, sisters and others became kith & kin later stages when they enter into matrimonial life.
    Therefore, it is requested to all over-aged brothers and sisters tobe of someone or else we also can meet same fate despite having PhD degrees and a lot of knowledge.

    Nevertheless, I pray to Almighty Allah may her soul may rest in eternal peace. Amen.Recommend

  • Maqsood Ahmed
    Aug 16, 2012 - 4:24PM

    Thats true and i like it. BB qureshi do that and lesson us that study and age have no competetion either your age is 89 or 20 .So do the work and continued your study. i do self that. THanks.


  • Atiya qureshi
    Aug 16, 2012 - 5:33PM

    She was very inspiring lady i heard her views on tv last week Allah un co Apnay jwar rehmat may ghgah day


  • Irshad Khan
    Aug 16, 2012 - 5:33PM

    Great honourable lady and a SHAHEEN of Iqbal.


  • Irshad Khan
    Aug 16, 2012 - 5:37PM

    Why was she not involved in drafting education policy of Pakistan?


  • Aug 16, 2012 - 6:27PM

    it saddened me to know that a great woman like that lived amongst us and nobody knew, and her death will be nothing more than a post on a page in a news website, to be forgotten as time passes.

    it’s disappointing to realize what happens to intellectuals that decide to stay in the homeland.

    utterly disappointingRecommend

  • Khair Bakhsh
    Aug 16, 2012 - 7:58PM

    No doubt, she was one of the oldest and shining star of our galaxy. A real soldier, fighting for a literate Pakistan has just made her final destiny. While paying alot of respect and honor to her, I say ” Rest in peacer”


  • Aug 16, 2012 - 8:53PM

    @Iron: I agree. If she was in the west or unfortunately, non-muslim states, she probably would have been treated different. It shows how we value our stars of our society.
    I think its a common attitude in the whole society. Her relatives took advantage and abandoned her, but even after in the news about going to Edhi a while ago, no one offered to support her. Edhi is everywhere to help people but where are these other so called “educated”, “generous” and “great” people to help each other. We all need to change our attitude, otherwise, people will hear more and more news like these in the news and one day may be its one of us.


  • Sonia
    Aug 16, 2012 - 11:36PM

    @Gulzar Kandrani:

    I think u missed the most important point of what you are quoting yourself.

    Whether one is married or not- borthers/sisters DONOT estarnge you. It is only and SHAMRFULLY in the Muslim society (which is a due reflection of the Western society) that we do this not only to our brothers and sisters but to our parents aw well.

    If you go to Edhi- do it only 1 day just volunteer- and see how many PARENTS have been dropped off by their children – you will realize that marriage and children are not GUARANTEE/WARRANTY or LICENSE for a happy home. If she was married she would have had to look after her kids or maybe might have become what she was- but she would have had deeper sorrows of being left alone not only by her ‘kith and kin’ but by her children and granchildren.

    Times are rough and children live their own lives these days- working to meet ends for themselves- you expect them to support parnets.
    This is one example of a bravelady who crossed borders for educating masses- unfortunately she should was never recognized for her efforts- a Nobel Prize should have been there- in an era when women were cooking in houses- she made changes in lives!!!


  • Imdad Ali Shah
    Aug 17, 2012 - 12:28AM

    @Dr Ashraf Niazi:
    Please read properly it says one of the few first “””women””” PHDs i hope you dont have doubts about abdul salams being a Male ????


  • Aug 17, 2012 - 5:26AM

    First in all I pray to Almighty Allah may her soul may rest in peace at Jannat-ul-Firdous . Amen.
    It is tragedy of our society to remember all those when died, so change our attitude.
    Where are those other people so called “educated”, “generous”, “great” & Government Institute” from people to help each other.


  • Muhammad Umair
    Aug 17, 2012 - 10:03AM

    She will not be forgotten as the very first Phd of Pakistan


  • osama
    Aug 17, 2012 - 6:32PM

    such a nice lady with amazing thought . she is the real hero of our nation in the fiel of education .may ALLAH bless her with jannat.


  • xee
    Aug 18, 2012 - 12:32AM

    @Dr Ashraf Niazi:

    she was the first woman having phd in pakistan…


  • Shariff
    Aug 18, 2012 - 5:07AM

    May Allah bless her soul ( Ameen)


  • Waseem
    Aug 18, 2012 - 5:01PM

    May Allah rest her soul in peace. Is there any information of her from 1922 to 1947 and how many year she spent in africa.
    When did she return to Pakistan how long did she teach in Pakistan, was she the first women or among the first few women PhD.

    In 1940 only few rich could afford to go to uk for education, so she must have been from privilige family. did she care for others????.

    may Allah rest her Soul in peace.


  • Muhammad Rizwan Ali
    Aug 18, 2012 - 7:36PM

    Well done writer, wrote such a true story, we should salute the BB ,how she live her life for poor people, and help them in many ways,

    May God give courage to other Pakistani people, to help other people like this.


  • Naqeeb Jehan
    Aug 29, 2012 - 11:37PM

    I wonder if my comment will be posted? There is a thing called intellectual honesty.Do we know what is it about?


  • Naqeeb Jehan
    Aug 29, 2012 - 11:46PM

    It will await moderation for eternity.


  • Naqeeb Jehan
    Aug 30, 2012 - 1:08AM

    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.


  • Mohammad ali Gaad
    Aug 30, 2012 - 9:54PM

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


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