Huge crowds gathered for the procession and funeral service in the city of Karachi on Saturday as politicians, military officials and members of civil society paid tribute to the woman dubbed “Pakistan’s Mother Theresa” – Dr Ruth Pfau. Dr Pfau was a German nun who arrived in Pakistan on 1960 and spent more than 50 years helping the nation’s most vulnerable people and fighting against leprosy. It is due to her ceaseless efforts that Pakistan has established Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre, which is the hub of 157 leprosy control centres with over 800 staff members. Leprosy was declared ‘under control’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Pakistan in 1996 – and the change credited to her.

It is only fitting that her efforts for the country were recognised by the state through a full state funeral. The ceremony was held at St Patrick’s Cathedral and was attended by dignitaries from across the country, including President Mamnoon Hussain, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the chiefs of armed forces, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.

The outpouring of love from the denziens of Karachi – who arrived in droves to see of the famed philanthropist – was reminiscent of the send off given by the city to another philanthropist; Abdul Sattar Edhi.

The government must be commended for giving full state honors to Dr Pfau; not only this is exactly what her service merits it was also an important message that emphasized the pluralistic base of this country – a base that has been under threat of late.

Dr Pfau dedicated her life to this country and became a Pakistani citizen in 1988. The visuals of casket earing a cross being carried by the Pakistani army soldiers and saluted by the highest dignitaries in the country is a powerful one. As is the sight of the flag of the Vatican City flying high above the cathedral, while the Pakistani flag flew at half-mast.

Dr Pfau life is not only a testament to indomitable human spirit and depths of it’s charity and compassion, it is also an example of the multicultural tolerance that needs to be adopted in the coming world. Dr Ruth adopted Pakistan without bias and hesitation, and Pakistan adopted her.

The nation thanks her for her efforts and is proud to call her a fellow Pakistani.