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Pakistan

'Pakistan's Mother Theresa' given state funeral in Karachi

German nun Ruth Pfau established over 150 medical centers dedicated to leprosy and tuberculosis throughout Pakistan. State funerals are usually reserved for soldiers or heads of state.

Ruth Pfau, a German physician and nun, was given a state funeral in Karachi on Saturday, an honor Pakistan usually reserves for soldiers and heads of state. Hundreds of mourners came to bid farewell to the woman who helped their country eradicate leprosy.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the official funeral would mark her "selfless and unmatched" services to the country.

Pfau first came to Pakistan in 1960 to dedicate her life to treating leprosy patients, establishing 157 centers dedicated to those suffering from the disease. As cases of leprosy dropped throughout the country, she turned her attention to tuberculosis.

The World Health Organization (WHO) credits Pfau's efforts for making Pakistan one of the first countries in Asia to be completely free from leprosy.

Dr. Pfau died on August 10 at the age of 87 at her Marie Adelaide Leprosy Center in Karachi, which is the capital of Sindh province. The province's chief minister, Murad Ali Shah, was one of the hundreds of people on hand to watch her coffin be brought to its final resting place in Karachi's oldest cemetery, Gora Qabaristan.

Her coffin was draped in the Pakistani flag and covered with rose petals, and was accompanied by a 19-gun salute as members of all three branches of the country's armed forces kept watch. The ceremony was broadcast live on national television.

"There is no one like her and there won't be any replacement to her. We pray to God to send people like her again to this world so that they could continue serving people," said Martha Fernando, who worked with Pfau and the Martha Adelaide Leprosy Center.

Watch video 02:55

@dwnews - Pakistan mourns leprosy hero Ruth Pfau

es/jlw (AP, dpa)

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