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August 20, 2017
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Dr Salima Raisuddin Ahmed eulogised

Karachi

August 20, 2017

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Glowing tributes were showered on the late Dr Salima Raisuddin Ahmed, founder-president of the Pakistan Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Organisation, who passed away on May 29, 2017.

There was a stream of speakers who spoke of her in the most tender way at a memorial meeting on Saturday.

“I see this as the celebration of the life of an extraordinary human being, not as mourning,” said Javed Jabbar, former senator and federal minister.

Jabbar’s eulogy was highly nostalgic and sentimental. He said both his mother and Dr Salima Ahmed were born on the same day, June 11, even though some years apart. Both, he said, belonged to southern India, which he preferred to refer to as South Asia.

“Her struggle represented a crusade against misogyny.”

He regretted that over the vast eons of human history, it had somehow become embedded in our genes that man was, by and large, the superior sex. He said it was people like Dr Salima Ahmed who had struggled to wipe out that misconception.  

Talking about the lingering misogyny, he cited the case of the federal cabinet of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, which had 44 men and just three women. He said that when it came to building an institution, it was really the individual that mattered.

Pointing to a portrait of the late Dr Salima Ahmed, he said the most important attribute of Dr Salima’s was the congenital optimism which was reflected in her smile.

Former Sindh governor General (retd) Moinuddin Haider, lauding Dr Salima’s contribution to the uplift of women, said, “People who lead by example are our greatest. We have to advance the emancipation bequeathed us by her.”

Talking about Karachi’s problems, he said, “We still have a long way to go. We have to change the mindset to cultivate tolerance, be it ethnic, religious, linguistic and the like. The community has a vital role to play in this endeavour.”

Nasreen Mehdi, a bureaucrat, referred to the late Dr Salima Ahmed as a mentor and a motherly figure. “She taught me how to strive for women’s rights,” she said.

Very appropriately, she informed the gathering how Dr Salima had decorated the late Dr Ruth Pfau with the Khadija tul Kubra Award in 1989 for her services to suffering humanity. This coincided with the state funeral of Dr Ruth Pfau on Saturday.

Talking of Dr Salima, she said, “She spent her life only to serve and serve and serve.”

She said that a Dr Salima Raisuddin Ahmed academic scholarship had been instituted.

Mehtab Rashdi said Dr Salima chose the challenge presented by Pakistan. She narrated how Dr Salima’s mother always faced challenges and handled decisions in the most judicious of manner. “Salima inherited these qualities from her mother,” she said. “I never saw her sad.”

Noted human rights lawyer Zia Awan, talking about Dr Ahmed’s struggle for the cause of women, said she once told him that her husband was a member of the Sindh Club but she lamented women were not accorded membership. She went to fight on for this cause and today, he said, women were equal members of the club. 

He said the PFBPWO (Pakistan Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Organisation) was not a social club but an organisation for women’s empowerment for which he heaped all the credit on Dr Salima. He cited the Gharo poverty alleviation programme initiated by Dr Salima and said that it had been so successful that it could be documented internationally. 

He said there should be at least 50 hostels for working women along the lines enunciated by Dr Salima. “In this endeavour”, he said, “we should not be confined to one particular sect or religion but should think along more magnanimous lines and be prepared to help all the underprivileged, regardless of cast, colour, or creed.”

Dr Khalida Ghaus said her association with Dr Salima, even though brief, had been highly eventful. “She never complained,” said Dr Ghaus.

“It is not just economic empowerment but also social empowerment that is essential for women.”

Others who spoke were Akram Khatoon, former president of First Women’s Bank Ltd., Dr Salima’s son Behram, her daughter-in-law, Karen, and their daughter. 

Akram Khatoon described what a valuable experience it had been professionally to be associated with Dr Salima. Her son, daughter-in-law, and grand-daughter reminisced most affectionately about her loving nature and, most of all, her sense of humour. Daughter-in-law Karen said that she never felt that Dr Salima was her mother-in-law and that she was just like a mother.

The present assistant executive officer, Muhammad Akbar, narrated how wonderful it had been being subordinate to a wonderful person like Dr Salima. At the end, schoolgirls presented the anthem of the PFBPWO. Sarwat Sultana conducted the proceedings.

 

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