Home Latest News Bilquis Edhi Dies, Aged 74

Bilquis Edhi Dies, Aged 74

Humanitarian who advocated for the helpless alongside her late husband, Abdul Sattar Edhi, passes away after month-long illness

by Staff Report

File photo of Bilquis Edhi

Bilquis Bano Edhi, a renowned humanitarian in her own right and wife of the late philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, passed away in Karachi on Friday after a month-long illness. She was 74.

According to the Edhi Foundation, Bilquis had been admitted to hospital for the past three days after her blood pressure suddenly dropped. A spokesman said that she had suffered from congestive heart failure, and had already undergone a heart bypass twice. She also suffered from multiple other ailments, including diabetes and arthritis.

Bilquis got married to her husband in 1966 and the two spent the next five decades working on their charitable foundation, overseeing a network of services including ambulances, emergency relief, homeless shelters, orphanages, burial of unclaimed bodies, animal shelters and blood banks.

Known for her compassion and desire to help the helpless, Bilquis was a professional nurse and had headed the Bilquis Edhi Foundation. Alongside her husband, she helped save more than 42,000 unwanted babies by setting up maternity clinics and baby cradles outside Edhi centers across Pakistan, where women could anonymously leave their newborns knowing they’d be protected and cared for.

According to Bilquis, most of the abandoned babies left in Edhi cradles were girls—up to 90 percent by some estimates. The foundation also operates an adoption center that has helped place thousands of children with families, earning Bilquis the designation of ‘Mother of Pakistan.’ Faisal Edhi, who took over the Edhi Foundation after his father’s death, assured media after Bilquis’ death that the family would continue their parents’ work.

Throughout the years, Bilquis won several accolades for the work done by her and her husband. In 1986, she and her husband received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service; in 1988 they both won the Lenin Peace Prize. She was also the recipient of the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Pakistan’s second-highest civil award.

She is survived by four children, Faisal, Kubra, Zeenat and Almas. Faisal told media that the funeral prayers for his mother would be offered at the New Memon Masjid Kharadar after Zuhr prayers on Saturday. “My mother’s efforts are not hidden from anyone and we will be carrying forward our mother’s mission,” he added.

“The passing of Bilquis Edhi is a huge loss for the nation,” Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said in a posting on Twitter. “An incredible woman in her own right, she stood by Edhi sb. like a rock and together they set up an example of human compassion and ran one of the largest philanthropic organizations of the world,” he said. “May her soul rest in peace!” Earlier, Sharif’s wife Tehmina Durrani had also visited Bilquis in hospital and prayed for her health.

Former prime minister Imran Khan likewise said he was deeply saddened by her passing. “Her quiet, selfless work for the poor, the homeless, especially the orphans and abandoned children, made her a role model and a symbol of hope. My prayers and condolences go to her family,” he wrote on Twitter.

President Arif Alvi also expressed his sadness on the passing of Bilquis Edhi. “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,” he said.

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