Pakistan’s most renowned and respected philanthropist and humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi passed away in Karachi on Friday at the age of 92, his son Faisal Edhi announced.
“Edhi sahab passed away tonight. I want to tell you all, Pakistan and the world, that he is not with us anymore,” said Faisal Edhi.
“His funeral prayers will be offered at the Memon Masjid in Bolton Market, Karachi after Zuhr prayers on Saturday,” he said.
The renowned humanitarian, who was the founder and chairman of the Edhi Foundation, was diagnosed with kidney failure three years ago but was since unable to receive a transplant due to his poor health.
Earlier in the day, the family had had asked to pray for Edhi whose condition deteriorated and who was said to be breathing with the help of a ventilator.
He was brought to the the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) for a regular dialysis earlier on Friday, but was shifted to intensive care and put on the ventilator after he faced severe trouble in breathing.
Edhi had been undergoing treatment at the hospital for the past several weeks.
The philanthropist suffered from multiple diseases and complications, including diabetes, hypertension, and kidney failure. His son told reporters earlier today that he had also become very weak physically because of not being able to eat for some time.
Last act of kindness:
In a last act of kindness and selflessness, Faisal Edhi said his father had wished that all his usable body organs be donated after his death.
“He had prepared for himself a grave in Edhi village about 25 years ago,” he said. “We will bury him there according to his wishes. Also, he wanted to be buried in the same clothes in which he died. Hence, we will also honour his wish and bury him in the clothes that he passed away,” he added.
“He also wished that his organs be donated after he passes away. Because of his condition, only his eyes can be donated,” said his son, visibly emotional and in tears.
An operation was being conducted to extract his cornea for donation.
Born to a family of traders in Gujarat, 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, 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 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, 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.
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.