KARACHI: Celebrated humanitarian and Edhi Foundation Chairman Abdul Sattar Edhi passed away at the age of 88 in Karachi on Friday night.

Edhi's funeral prayers will be offered on Saturday after Zuhr prayers at the National Stadium, after which he will be laid to rest at Edhi village.

Abdul Sattar Edhi sits in his office in Karachi.— AFP/File
Abdul Sattar Edhi sits in his office in Karachi.— AFP/File

"He wished to be buried in the same clothes he used to wear. He also wanted to donate his body parts, but only his cornea can be donated as rest of the organs were not in healthy condition," said Faisal Edhi.

Edhi was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2013 but had been unable to get a transplant due to frail health. He was receiving treatment at the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT).

Earlier in the day, the philanthropist's son Faisal and wife Bilquis Edhi informed the media that doctors at the facility termed his condition critical.

He felt difficulty while breathing "after which the doctors decided to shift him on a ventilator".

In June, Edhi declined an offer by former president Asif Ali Zardari for treatment abroad, insisting on getting it done in Pakistan, particularly in a government hospital.

Edhi’s journey

Born to a family of traders in Gujarat, Mr Edhi arrived in Pakistan in 1947.

The state’s failure to help his struggling family care for his mother – paralysed and suffering from mental health issues – was his painful and decisive turning point towards philanthropy.

In the sticky streets in the heart of Karachi, Mr Edhi, full of idealism and hope, opened his first clinic in 1951. “Social welfare was my vocation, I had to free it,” he says in his autobiography, ‘A Mirror To The Blind’.

Motivated by a spiritual quest for justice, over the years Mr Edhi and his team created maternity wards, morgues, orphanages, shelters and homes for the elderly – all aimed at helping those who cannot help themselves.

The most prominent symbols of the foundation – its 1,500 ambulances – are deployed with unusual efficiency to the scene of terrorist attacks that tear through the country with devastating regularity.

A national hero

Revered by many as a national hero, Mr Edhi created a charitable empire out of nothing. He masterminded Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation almost single-handedly, entirely with private donations.

Content with just two sets of clothes, he slept in a windowless room of white tiles adjoining the office of his charitable foundation. Sparsely equipped, it had just one bed, a sink and a hotplate.

“He never established a home for his own children,” his wife Bilquis, who manages the foundation’s homes for women and children, told AFP in an interview this year.

What he has established is something of a safety net for the poor and destitute, mobilising the nation to donate and help take action – filling a gap left by a lack of welfare state.

Mr Edhi has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and appeared on the list again this year – put there by Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan’s teenage Nobel laureate.

Condolences pour in

Abdul Sattar Edhi’s tireless work has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives and shown us what it means to be a man who works for the people, read a statement issued by PM Office.

“Despite all his success, he has always stayed humble, living a simple life in a small house barely large enough to encapsulate his enormous heart.”

In his most difficult hour, may Allah bestow upon him all the fortune that he bestowed upon the people of this country and treat him with the care that a man of his stature deserves, the statement added.

Other political leaders and celebrities turned to Twitter to offer their condolences.

Opinion

Digital finance
17 Jan 2021

Digital finance

Raast offers opportunities for inclusion, but is not without risk.
Broadsheetgate
Updated 17 Jan 2021

Broadsheetgate

The competence that has underlined NAB and its actions has cost us dearly now and even in 2008.
Debate on ordinances
17 Jan 2021

Debate on ordinances

The government’s line of thinking indicates a belief in the principle of brute majority.
America in decline?
Updated 16 Jan 2021

America in decline?

In spite of the ‘gates’ that rocked the US, democracy stood firm.

Editorial

Updated 17 Jan 2021

Foreign funding case

THE Election Commission of Pakistan has summoned both the PML-N and PPP on Monday in connection with the foreign...
17 Jan 2021

Vaccine procurement

ALL eyes are on the government as it pledges to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination programme to about 80m citizens by...
17 Jan 2021

Makli ‘renovation’

THERE are fears that the recently conducted ‘renovation’ work carried out at the Makli necropolis may rob the...
16 Jan 2021

Gas liberalisation

AFTER drawing much criticism from both consumers and the opposition over its mismanagement of the energy sector that...
16 Jan 2021

Osama Satti inquiry

THE findings of the judicial inquiry into the Jan 2 killing of 21-year-old Osama Satti in Islamabad merely confirms...
Updated 16 Jan 2021

British MP on IHK

DESPITE sustained efforts by New Delhi’s rulers to remove India-held Kashmir from the global discourse, people of...