KARACHI, April 11: Dr Ruth Pfau of the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre, the German-born humanist who spent her lifetime in Pakistan for the containment and treatment of leprosy, received the Jinnah Award on Friday.
The award was coffered by senator Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, federal minister for Investment and Privatization, on behalf of the Jinnah Society, in recognition of Dr Pfau’s outstanding services to Pakistan.
Dr Pfau, who, after working in the field of leprosy treatment, left her home country, Germany, and settled in Pakistan in 1960, is also a recipient of Hilal-i-Imtiaz and Hilal-i-Pakistan.
Speaking after receiving the award, Dr Pfau said: “We are on the road to total elimination of leprosy”.
Paying tributes to her colleagues for their resolve and hard work, Dr Pfau said leprosy in the country had been controlled by ordinary people who needed a voice.
She spoke about her experience in Pakistan’s different areas and narrated the problems faced by people in remote areas where basic amenities are lacking.
Dr Pfau, whose life plan changed in 1960 when she visited a settlement of leprosy patients in Karachi and decided to make it her abode to serve the ailing people.
She also paid tribute to the ideals of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
She said the ideals of the Quaid were relevant to all times, and expressed the hope the people of Pakistan would follow them.
Earlier, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, in his keynote address, said the Quaid’s vision of a modern, progressive and liberal Pakistan was still relevant.
He stressed that the Pakistanis must take inspiration from the ideals of unity, faith and discipline and learn from the Quaid’s personal conduct.
Dr Shaikh praised the dedication of Dr Ruth Pfau in the service of the ailing humanity despite many odds.
“Mr Jinnah created Pakistan and you have worked hard to make it a better place to live in,” said Dr Hafeez while lauding her contribution to eradicating leprosy from the country. He also appreciated the initiatives taken by the Jinnah Society.
Dr Nasim Ashraf, minister of state for the National Commission on Human Development, read out a message by President Pervez Musharraf praising the work of the Society, and claiming that the president’s vision was no different from the Quaid’s.
Earlier, the president of the Jinnah Society, Liaquat Merchant, narrated the achievements of the society such as the production of a CD on the Quaid. He emphasised that the Quaid’s name should not be used for commercial purposes.
He also paid rich tribute to Dr Pfau for her service to humanity.
Batool Mahmood presented a life sketch of Dr Pfau through slides. Later, a multi-media presentation and a live talk show were held.