Tens of thousands attend Pakistani philanthropist's funeral

AP News
Posted: Jul 09, 2016 6:48 AM

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Tens of thousands of people attended the state funeral for Pakistan's legendary philanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi, in Karachi on Saturday, officials said.

Thousands more couldn't get to the stadium where the funeral was held with a military honor guard, said local government official Nasir Habib.

The 88-year-old charity worker died Friday after a prolonged illness.

Pakistan's top civilian and army leadership offered funeral prayers at the stadium, as the country mourned the loss of a man commonly known as the "Angel of Mercy" for his internationally-acclaimed social work. A 19 gun salute was given, Pakistan's army spokesman, Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, tweeted.

Edhi donated his eyes and asked his family to bury him in the clothes he wore at the time of his death, his son Faisal Eidhi said. As part of his commitment to living simply, Edhi would never own more than a few items of clothing and a pair of shoes, his son said.

Despite the vast sums of money that passed through his charitable foundation, Edhi lived modestly with his family in a two-room apartment adjacent to the headquarters of his foundation.

He established the foundation almost six decades ago that he oversaw with his wife, Bilquis Edhi.

The foundation owns and runs Pakistan's largest ambulance service, nursing homes, orphanages, clinics and women's shelters, along with rehabilitation centers and soup kitchens.

His work earned him numerous awards at home and abroad, including the Gandhi Peace Award, the 2007 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize, the 2011 London Peace Award, the 2008 Seoul Peace Award and the Hamdan Award for Volunteers in Humanitarian Medical Service.

Edhi never finished school but later said that the world of suffering became his tutor.

In Pakistan, tributes poured in for Edhi. "We the poor lost our father today," Rafiq Ahmad, a 45-year-old who attended the funeral, told reporters.


Associated Press Writer Asif Shahzad in Islamabad contributed to this report.