Karachi, Pakistan (BBN)– 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 had died at a medical centre in Karachi where he had been having treatment for some weeks, reports BBC.
The philanthropist began his charitable work as a young man.
The Edhi Foundation now provides a broad range of free social services, including ambulances, orphanages and support for the elderly and disabled.
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”.
“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.
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.
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.