Edhi, known as a ‘servant of humanity’ and who also ran the world’s largest private ambulance network, was suffering from severe kidney problems according to his son. Among those to attend the funeral was President Mamnoon Hussain, military chief General Raheel Sharif, governor of Sindh province Ishrat ul Ibad Khan, the chief ministers of Sindh and Punjab provinces and many other national politicians, notables and servicemen. Edhi’s coffin, wrapped in the green national flag and covered with pink rose-petals, was carried on a military jeep into the national stadium in Karachi where there was a guard of honor as thousands paid tribute. Security officials said that a 21 gun salute was also offered. Military Chief Raheel Sharif and Edhi’s son Faisal saluted the coffin as it was carried by soldiers.
But thousands of ordinary people who planned to attend the funeral were stopped several kilometers away from the ceremony for security reasons. More than 3,000 security and traffic police officers were deployed as the coffin was taken for burial to Edhi Village near Karachi’s main National Highway, which Edhi himself had selected as a place for his grave 25 years ago. Born to a family of Muslim traders in Gujarat in British India, Edhi arrived in Pakistan after its bloody creation in 1947.
The state’s failure to help his struggling family care for his mother — paralyzed and suffering from mental health issues — was his painful and decisive turning point toward philanthropy. In the sticky streets in the heart of Karachi, Edhi, full of idealism and hope, opened his first medical clinic in 1951. Abandoned children and the elderly, battered women, the disabled, drug addicts; Edhi’s foundation now houses some 5,700 people in 17 shelters across the country.