Asia

Pakistan charity boss Abdul Sattar Edhi 'heartbroken' after robbery

Abdul Sattar Edhi (right) receiving kidney dialysis, with Dr Adib Rizvi in Karachi's SIUT hospital
Image caption Abdul Sattar Edhi (right), who receives kidney dialysis, was asleep when the robbers arrived

One of Pakistan's top charity leaders has told the BBC he is heartbroken after being robbed at gunpoint.

Abdul Sattar Edhi, 86, was asleep when a gang of armed men raided the Karachi slum building that serves as his residence and charity headquarters.

They made off with gold, silver and cash worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the raid early on Sunday.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari both condemned the robbery.

Mr Edhi is one of Pakistan's most revered figures and has spent a lifetime building up its largest health charity. The Edhi Foundation provides a broad range of free social services, including ambulances, orphanages and support for the elderly and disabled.

"I am heartbroken. After everything I have done, I never thought I'd be violated like this inside my own home," Mr Edhi told the BBC.

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Media captionThe BBC's Aleem Maqbool travels to Karachi to meet Mr Edhi and look back on his life and achievements

His son Faisal Edhi said: "My father is fine, but deeply saddened by this incident. He was tearful yesterday. It's not about the money or the valuables they took away. But his pride has been violated."

Many people took to social media to voice their anger at the robbery, which correspondents say is shocking despite the notoriously high crime rates in Karachi.

Mubashar Lucman, a leading presenter on the ARY News channel, said: "If a person of his stature is not safe in this country then what system are we talking about."

"It is heart breaking then what happened with our asset, our saviour, our angel.... Abdul Sattar Edhi saab," tweeted journalist Fereeha Idrees.

"Imagine what would have happened if Edhi got the Nobel Peace Prize and lost it in the robbery in his center," said another message.

Many messages urged people to donate to Edhi because of the robbery, but some others questioned why so much money and valuables had been kept in his residence.

Mr Edhi said as well as some cash kept for emergencies, the money and valuables included deposits entrusted to the foundation for safekeeping.

He said the robbers had walked straight to the locker where the money and gold was kept and demanded the key.

"I thought they came to ask me about the Edhi centre but they started asking me about money. I don't understand how they knew that everything was kept in the cupboard," Mr Edhi told the Express Tribune newspaper.

Police are hunting for the robbers but have yet to make any arrests.

Correction 22 October 2014: A tweet that was incorrectly attributed to Abdul Sattar Edhi has been removed from this report.

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