All about Abdul Sattar Edhi – Geeta’s saviour and the greatest living Pakistani

The case of Geeta, a young speech and hearing impaired Indian woman who arrived in her homeland on Monday, has brought Pakistan's Edhi Foundation into limelight.

Updated: Oct 27, 2015, 12:10 PM IST
All about Abdul Sattar Edhi – Geeta’s saviour and the greatest living Pakistani

New Delhi: The case of Geeta, a young speech and hearing impaired Indian woman who arrived in her homeland on Monday, has brought Pakistan's Edhi Foundation into limelight.

Geeta, who left stranded in Pakistan for over a decade, was taken care of by Edhi Foundation during her long stay in the neighbouring country.

Albeit India’s daughter has returned to her country, the role of 87-year-old founder of the Edhi foundation, Abdul Sattar Edhi, in the entire case is commendable and worth a salute. In a country filled with the fanatic religious leaders, the story of Edhi comes as a breather.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi gives Rs 1 crore to Edhi for caring for Geeta

As per CNN-IBN, some say that after Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Abdul Sattar Edhi is the second most revered personality in Pakistan’s history.

Also Read: Deaf and mute Geeta returns to India from Pakistan: As it happened

Born in 1928 in a small village of Bantva near Joona Garh, Gujarat, Edhi shifted to Pakistan during partition in 1947. His mother’s death due to illness became the reason behind Edhi’s decision to help those in need.  

According to Edhi Foundation website, Abdul Sattar Edhi had a vision of chains of welfare centres and hospitals that could be opened to alleviate the pain of those suffering from illness and neglect. To fulfil his dream, he established a welfare trust and named it as "Edhi Trust".

With the passage of time, masses gave him the title of the" Angel of Mercy”.

Edhi got married to Bilquis, a nurse who worked at the Edhi dispensary, in 1965. The couple have four children, two daughters and two sons. Bilquis runs a free maternity home in Karachi and organises the adoption of illegitimate and abandoned babies.

From raising funds to bathing corpses, Edhi involves himself in every activity of his organisation. “Round the clock he keeps with him an ambulance which he drives himself and makes rounds of the city regularly. On finding a destitute or an injured person anywhere on the way, he escorts him to the Relief Centre where immediate attention is given to the needy person,” mentions the website.

Journalist Peter Oborne, who made a documentary on the Edhi foundation, described Abdul Sattar Edhi a 'living saint'.

In 2011, Oborne, in an article for ‘The Telegraph’, writes, “In the course of my duties as a reporter, I have met presidents, prime ministers and reigning monarchs. Until meeting the Pakistani social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi, I had never met a saint. Within a few moments of shaking hands, I knew I was in the presence of moral and spiritual greatness. Edhi's life story is awesome, as I learnt when I spent two weeks working at one of his ambulance centres in Karachi. The 82-year-old lives in the austerity that has been his hallmark all his life. He wears blue overalls and sports a Jinnah cap, so named because it was the head gear of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. No Pakistani since Jinnah has commanded the same reverence, and our conversations were constantly interrupted as people came to pay their respects.”

Edhi also set up an orphanage for the newborns, who were unwanted by their own unwed mothers fearing social stigma. He placed a little cradle outside every Edhi centre, beneath a placard imploring, "Do not commit another sin: leave your baby in our care." Edhi has saved 35,000 babies so far.

In an interview given to a journalist in Lahore in 1991, Edhi said, "I want to request the people not to invite me to social gatherings and inaugural ceremonies. This only wastes my time which is wholly devoted to the well being of our people."

Although Edhi has a traditional Islamic background, he has an open and progressive mind on a number of sensitive social issues. He strongly supports the notion of working women. Of the 2,000 paid workers of the Edhi Foundation, around 500 are women. Edhi encourages women to do all sorts of work without differentiation.