By: Chandrashekar Bhat
BILQUIS BANO EDHI, the wife of Pakistan’s revered humanitarian and philanthropist late Abdul Sattar Edhi, passed away at a private hospital in Karachi on Friday (15), according to a family member. She was 74.
Bilquis worked shoulder to shoulder with her husband in establishing the Abdul Sattar Edhi Foundation, a welfare organisation that gained worldwide fame for its humanitarian work in many areas.
After the death of her husband in July 2016, Bilquis carried on the work of the foundation with her son Faisal Edhi, who confirmed her death to the media.
He said his mother had been admitted to the hospital after her blood pressure suddenly dropped.
Faisal said Bilquis suffered complications in hospital as she had congestive heart failure and had already undergone bypass procedure twice.
According to an Edhi Foundation spokesperson, Bilquis was ill for the last one month.
Pakistan president Arif Alvi expressed his sadness over Bilquis’ death.
“She had always been shoulder to shoulder with Abdul Sattar Edhi in his philanthropic efforts and continued his work even after his death. May Allah bless the departed soul.”
Prime minister Shehbaz Sharif termed Bilquis’ death “a huge loss for the nation”.
“An incredible woman in her own right, she stood by Edhi sahab like a rock and together they set up an example of human compassion and ran one of the largest philanthropic organisations in the world. May her soul rest in peace!” the prime minister said in a tweet.
Bilquis, who spent more than six decades of her life serving humanity, was respected for starting a programme of placing cradles at Edhi homes and centres across the country where unwanted babies could be left by their mothers or families, instead of abandoning them anywhere.
Dubbed ‘Mother of Pakistan’, she was awarded various national and foreign awards, including the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the Lenin Peace Prize, Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice (2015), and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, which she received along with her husband in 1986.
Last year, she was also named the ‘Person of the Decade’, along with UN rapporteur on human rights Prof Yanghee Lee and US ethicist Stephen Soldz by an international organisation.