What were you doing with so much money at home, Edhi Sahib?

Published: October 22, 2014
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Are these ‘people’ evading taxes by safekeeping their gold and currency with Edhi Sahib? Or are these ‘people’ afraid to disclose their assets? PHOTO: AFP

Sunday mornings are the laziest mornings of the week, when all one wants is to wake up to the smell of halwa puri and thick newspapers. However, this Sunday morning, Karachi woke up to the news of a robbery at the Edhi residence – house of Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Sattar Edhi and – headquarters to the Edhi Foundation, which was looted in broad daylight by unknown dacoits.

This is surprising, yes.

It should not have happened, I agree.

But it happened.

It happens all the time in Karachi.

I’m just glad that the robbers had at least this much humanity left in them that they did not kill the man himself. So there you go, Pakistan; he is alive and well. Like they say,

Jaan hai tou jahan hai

(If you’re alive, the world’s alive)

During a lunch-time discussion, however, my colleague was surprised to see that I wasn’t affected much by the robbery – and I was equally surprised to see her making such a big deal out of this.

Is this incident new to our metropolitan?

Then why the outcry?

Is it because it happened to a philanthropist?

I am more concerned with, and happy about, the fact that the robbers didn’t harm Edhi Sahib or his wife. In the words of Edhi Sahib himself:

“Mere saath kuch nahin kiya. Balkey izzat di, kursi pe bithaya…

(They didn’t do anything to me. In fact, they showed respect and asked me to sit on a chair)

Although this does not justify the robbery itself, it could have been worse. The icing on the cake for me, though, was the comment made by the police, terming this robbery as ‘unethical’. I am still to learn what ethical robberies are…

The media is in frenzy, Twitter is ablaze with the hashtag #DonateToEdhi, our chief minister has woken up from his slumber and bothered to take notice and SHO Zafar Iqbal – who was probably with his family on a picnic that beautiful Sunday – has been suspended.

But, what bothers me as a layperson is not that Edhi Sahib was robbed; it is the question that why did Edhi Sahib, a philanthropist and a Nobel Prize nominee, have gold and money worth millions of rupees, including foreign currency, in his house?

Edhi Foundation is one of the largest charitable foundations in Asia, with its website boasting that donations can be made via credit cards, bank transfers and even PayPal. Why would so much cash and gold be donated in person, and kept at a residence that doesn’t even have any security? And that too in a city like Karachi, which has been voted one of the top 10 most violent cities in the world.

Edhi Sahib, you are no way immune to theft or robbery; robbers would never care if you are a saint or a sinner. In a city where people hardly make enough money to feed their families, thinking that one would be safe because one is compassionate to all is beyond naivety.

Investigation of the incident shows that this was perhaps a planned robbery, as the Edhi residence maintained lockers with valuables that the dacoits immediately targeted. Clearly, they already knew about it and were well aware of its contents.

Faisal Edhi, son of Edhi Sahib, stated that the valuables were given to Edhi Sahib for safekeeping, as an ‘amanat’, because he is a very trusted man.

Again, the question is, who are these ‘people’ who entrusted Edhi Sahib with keeping valuables in his house and endangered his life, instead of using banks and locker services like the rest of the 23.5 million individuals in the city?

Are these ‘people’ evading taxes by safekeeping their gold and currency with Edhi Sahib? Or are these ‘people’ afraid to disclose their assets?

These questions, I believe, will remain as unanswered as the question “Benazir ka qatil kaun?” (Who killed Benazir?).

Edhi Sahib, I feel for you and let me assure you that people all over the world will still donate to the Edhi Foundation, irrespective of the fact that the stolen valuables were not donations but entrusted to you for safekeeping by unknown ‘people’ for unknown reasons.

As a citizen of this city, however, I am disappointed that when valuables of rich people are stolen from your respectable organisation, it is termed unethical but when hundreds of people are robbed every day of their hard earned money on traffic signals, in their homes or even outside mosques, no action is taken.

Is it justified to term those robberies as ethical and not disturb our beloved chief minister over them? Or is it mandatory that the regulatory authorities only take action when a high profile case like yours is reported?

Sana Shah

Sana Shah

Lawyer by profession, a realist and farceur at heart who can debate endlessly on feminism and humanitarian issues. Loves travelling, dogs and museums. Permanently a victim to sartorial dilemmas. She tweets at @sanahshah (twitter.com/sanahshah)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.