The Greatest Pakistani Ever

Edhi’s Bheek Mission

Pakistan celebrates its 70th (platinum) anniversary of independence this year. So, who do you think is the greatest Pakistani ever, living or deceased, in our 70 years history? You decide your own criteria for evaluation and give it deep, dispassionate thought. And once you have decided on a person, please take the trouble – it will only take a few seconds, and write down as a comment on this post, your selected greatest Pakistani ever. No need to go into your analysis or reasoning. Can you please definitely do this? And if you can share this post, even better, as we will then have an even larger response. I am sure you will be as interested as I am to see the results of this informal opinion poll!

My own nomination for the greatest ever Pakistani?

The overarching criterion for my evaluation of ‘candidates’ emanates from a profoundly thought-provoking quote by a person I have never met but who I admire and believe in deeply – Dr. Jane Goodall, a renowned British primatologist and naturalist, who once said:

‘You cannot get through a single day (in life) without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.’

And on this basis, my nomination for the greatest ever Pakistani in our 70 years history is marhoom Abdul Sattar Edhi Sahab. When a person becomes so ubiquitous in our lives, it is very easy to take that person for granted and undervalue the infinite magnitude of his or her work and the sheer effort behind it. One tends to overlook the total personal sacrifices made, and the ultimate height of personal character that person achieved in terms of selflessness, humility, honesty, compassion, courage, resolve and unconditional love for humanity.

Know anyone else who personally gave the last bath to and then buried countless societal outcasts?

Know anyone else who personally cared for tens of thousands of those whom the society had shunned for half a century, non-stop?

The beggars, the homeless, drug addicts whether by choice or by circumstances, the aged rejected by their own families, the ones inflicted by contagious diseases and distanced by everyone, the physically or mentally handicapped unable to take care of themselves and having no one else to care for them, the legitimate or illegitimate babies abandoned in the thousands without any exaggeration, in the dark of the night, surreptitiously placed in cribs placed outside Edhi centers, the terminally ill and dying, the battered women, the abused children, the abandoned insane, the traumatized, the victims of natural or human-caused disaster, the victims of war and genocide, the ultra poor who haven’t eaten a single meal in days till Edhi found them ….

Many have done good and many are still doing a lot of good, and for no material gain for self. Many have overcome impossible odds to rise to the top personally. Some of all these are well-known, admired and respected. Many of these no one knows but they carry on with their missions because recognition is the last thing they have ever looked for. Taking nothing away whatsoever from all these angelic people, living and deceased, I have to say this – if they are the planets in the solar system of life in Pakistan, then Edhi Sahab was the Sun.

This Ramazan will be the first after Edhi Sahab’s death. Since his passing away, donations to Edhi Foundation have noticeably declined, very sadly. Ramazan was always a month of major fundraising for Edhi Foundation. Edhi Sahab would launch the fundraising drive through his hallmark Bheek Mission, with himself personally taking up a position on a sheet spread on the footpath on a busy street, begging passersby for charity.

If you believed in Edhi, then pay your respects to his departed soul by donating generously to Edhi Foundation, well beyond what you would typically donate to any good cause. Making a donation this Ramazan will become far easier than ever before, as a result of one large corporate, Coca-Cola Pakistan, creating new ways to make a donation, under a fundraising campaign it is launching for Edhi Foundation. Even better, the company has pledged to match donations received up to a certain limit. So effectively our donations to Edhi will be doubled! And what is particularly commendable about Coca-Cola’s campaign is that it is purely altruistic with no commercial angle. Not like the more usual campaigns of brands that link donation to a cause by the brand to purchase of their product by the public.

So you know now that my unequivocal choice for the greatest ever Pakistani is Abdul Sattar Edhi. You may well choose him yourself, or you may opt for someone else. Whosoever is your choice, please do share by way of a comment on this post. And whether Edhi Sahab is also your choice or not, please do donate to Edhi Foundation whatever amount you can this Ramazan.

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