ET: They asked him whether it had ever happened before.
“Meray saath kabhi waqeya nahin hua aisa. Mujhay daaka maartay huay chhor diya tha,” Abdul Sattar Edhi said. “Aisay waqiay huay hain, lekin daaka nahin maara.”
A stupid question. How could it have happened before?
After all, this is Edhi Country. A country that is home to one of the largest welfare networks in Asia. A country where our mothers face a choice: dropping their babies in the cradles he cares for, or leaving them to die. A country where a full-grown doctor, herself a mother of four, goes searching for Bilquis Edhi; she’d been told by her parents that she had been adopted from the Edhi Centre a lifetime ago.
“We both broke down in tears,” Bilquis Edhi remembered.
Greatness of spirit doesn’t come close to describing it. Edhi sahib’s life has been filled with human misery, and he has been healing that misery for the last 60 years — with his bare hands.
He is, in many respects, an angel for the unwanted. “I began at Mithadar and brought back bloated, drowned bodies from the sea,” he said in his autobiography. “Black bodies that crumbled with one touch. I picked them up from rivers, from inside wells, from roadsides, accident sites and hospitals. (…) When families forsook them and authorities threw them away, I picked them up and brought them home, to my work force, spreading the stench in the air forever.”
In one painful paragraph, we understand why this is the man Pakistanis revere more than any other living citizen. Because in a country that’s never known moral clarity, we’re still certain about one thing: Abdul Sattar Edhi is the last of the saints.
And this past weekend, we became the world’s worst witnesses to sainthood.
As Pakistan’s greatest humanitarian lay sleeping, 10 men broke into the head office of the Edhi Foundation. They won themselves the hottest parts of hell: holding Edhi sahib hostage, robbing him of money and gold, and escaping with ease