Asia

Pakistani philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi dies aged 88

Edhi in 2002 Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Edhi's orphanages provided homes for thousands of children

Renowned Pakistani philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, who dedicated his life to the poor, has died at the age of 88.

Mr Edhi's family said he died on Friday at a medical centre in Karachi where he had been having treatment for weeks.

The Edhi Foundation now provides a broad range of free social services, including ambulances, orphanages and support for the elderly and disabled.

Thousands flocked to the National Stadium in Karachi on Saturday for his funeral, with an army guard of honour.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his sorrow at Mr Edhi's death and said he prayed that he would have "the best place in paradise".

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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
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thousands of people turned out for Mr Edhi's funeral, with many trying to touch his coffin
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Image caption The funeral was held at Karachi's National Stadium

"We have lost a great servant of humanity," Mr Sharif said.

"He was the real manifestation of love for those who were socially vulnerable, impoverished, helpless and poor."

Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai described Mr Edhi as a "legendary figure".

"He lived his life for the lives and happiness of others and that is why he is a role model. I haven't seen anyone else like him," she told the BBC.

She also repeated her call for him to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mourners gather for the funeral, which drew thousands to the national stadium in Karachi

Thousands attended the funeral at the stadium, with thousands more unable to get in, officials said.

After funeral prayers and a gun salute by the army, Mr Edhi's body was taken to Edhi village, which he founded 25 years ago, to be laid to rest.

Simplicity, honesty and hard work

Mr Edhi came from a family of Gujarati traders and arrived in Pakistan in 1947.

But he decided to take up philanthropy after seeing how the state failed to help his family care for his paralysed and ill mother, Dawn newspaper reported.

He opened his first clinic in 1951 and the Edhi Foundation grew to be the country's largest welfare organisation, running schools, hospitals and ambulance services across the country, often plugging gaps in services which the state simply fails to provide.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Edhi's body was transported in one of his foundation's ambulances

Correspondents say Mr Edhi was Pakistan's most respected figure and was seen by some as almost a saint.

In 2014 he told the BBC that simplicity, honesty, hard work and punctuality were the cornerstones of his work.

"It is everyone's responsibility to take care of others, that's what being human means. If more people thought that way, so many problems could be solved," he said.

He was also known for his humble lifestyle - he reportedly owned just two sets of clothes and lived in a small and sparsely-furnished room next to the office of his foundation.

Mr Edhi was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2013.

In June he turned down an offer from former president Asif Ali Zardari to get treatment abroad, insisting on being seen in a government hospital in Pakistan.

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