Dr Ruth Pfau, founder of Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre and a symbol of altruism, was laid to rest with full state honour. She died at the age of 87 earlier this month.
Pfau, a German-Pakistani doctor, devoted her life to helping leprosy patients in Pakistan.
The personnel of armed forces carried Dr Pfau’s casket into St Patrick’s Cathedral in Saddar area of Karachi. The coffin was covered in the Pakistani flag and covered with rose petals.
Later, ‘Pakistani Mother Teresa’ Dr Pfau’s coffin was taken to Gora Qabaristan, Karachi’s oldest graveyard, for burial.
The burial ceremony was attended by several state high-ups including President Mamnoon Hussain, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) Vice Admiral Zafar Mehmood Abbasi. The dignitaries laid floral wreaths on her grave.
Earlier, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqaan Abbasi had announced a state funeral for Dr Pfau, saying: “The entire nation is indebted to Ruth Pfau for her selflessness and unmatched services for eradication of leprosy.”
Dr Ruth Pfau’s funeral was the second state funeral to have occurred in the country in past 29 years, with the last one given to late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi in 2016.
A large number of her supporters, politicians, military officials and members of civil society attended the service and paid tribute to Dr Pfau.
Daughters of the Heart of Mary, a congregation of nuns which the deceased was a member of, sent Dr Pfau to Pakistan in 1960 for a medical service for students. After seeing the plight of leprosy patients, she decided to settle here. She was accorded Pakistani citizenship in 1988.
In 1979, Hilal-i-Imtiaz, the second-highest civilian award of Pakistan, was conferred upon her. In 1989, Dr Pfau was awarded the Hilal-i-Pakistan for her services.
Due to her efforts, Pakistan was declared a leprosy-free country in 1996 by the World Health Organisation.