KARACHI: The founder of Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation, Abdul Sattar Edhi, died Friday at the age of 92, his son confirmed as tributes swiftly poured in for the humble man almost unanimously revered as a national hero.
“Abdul Sattar is dead,” his son and heir to his charitable empire Faisal told AFP.
“My father was suffering from severe kidney problems and both of his kidneys had failed,” he said.
Social media quickly lit up in honour of the man whose work uplifting the nation’s destitute and orphans cemented his place in the hearts of Pakistan’s masses.
“May Allah give Edhi Sahib the best place in paradise and make his journey to Ahkira (the world hereafter) easy,” said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a statement released to media.
“He was a real gem and asset for Pakistan. We have lost a great servant of humanity.”
Others lauded him as “the greatest Pakistani”, calling his death a “national tragedy”.
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 in society who cannot help themselves and picking up where limited government-run services fell short.
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 Pakistan with devastating regularity.
His work was so widely respected by across Pakistan that armed groups and bandits were known to spare his ambulances.
Frail and weak in his later years, Edhi appointed his son Faisal as managing trustee in early 2016.
Edhi was been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and appears on the list again this year — put there by Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan’s teenage Nobel laureate.
“I have done a lot of work. I am satisfied with my life,” he told AFP in an interview earlier this year.