Islamabad, July 9 (IANS) Pakistan’s celebrated humanitarian and founder of the Edhi Foundation, a non-profit welfare organisation, Abdul Sattar Edhi, has died at the age of 92 at a hospital in Karachi, his son said.
Tributes poured in from all over the country for the revered national hero, who died on Friday night after he was put on ventilator following his deteriorating health, The Nation reported.
“Abdul Sattar is dead,” his son Faisal Edhi told the media outside the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation.
Edhi’s funeral will be held on Saturday afternoon, his son said. He would be buried with the national flag wrapped around his coffin and would be accorded a police guard of honour.
He would be laid to rest, in a grave he had himself dug, in the clothes he was wearing at the time of his death as per his wish.
He was born to a family of traders in what was then the Bombay Presidency in undivided India on January 1, 1924, and arrived in Pakistan in 1947.
Edhi headed a foundation which supported thousands of needy people and children. He was conferred several national awards for his services to humanity.
The Edhi Foundation is one of Pakistan’s largest public welfare organisations and runs one of the biggest fleets of ambulances, dozens of clinics and orphanages in the country.
The foundation was home to the speech-impaired Indian girl, Geeta, who was found in Lahore city after she strayed across the border abroad the Samjhauta Express train in 2003.
Edhi foundation played a significant role in helping Geeta to return to India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing gratitude for this, announced a contribution of Rs 10 million for the foundation, which Edhi politely declined to accept.
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, picking up where limited government-run services fell short.
Edhi had also donated his organs but due to continuous medical treatment, only his corneas could be harvested.
Faisal said Edhi refused to go abroad for medical treatment and preferred to die in Pakistan.
Edhi was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2013, but had been unable to get a transplant due to frail health.
He was so widely respected that armed groups and bandits were known to spare his ambulances.
As news broke of his death, social media lit up with tributes lauding him as “the greatest Pakistani”.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan described Edhi as a “noble soul”, while military chief General Raheel Sharif expressed his “deepest sorrow and regret”.
Edhi has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and appears on the list again this year — nominated by teenage Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Frail and weak in his later years, he appointed Faisal as the managing trustee in early 2016.
Edhi and his wife, Bilquis Edhi, received the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service. He is also the recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize and the Balzan Prize.
In 1989, Edhi received the Nishan-e-Imtiaz from the government of Pakistan.