By Sabiha Mansoor
Abdul Sattar Edhi, the greatest humanitarian in the world, left us for his eternal abode yesterday. There was much pomp and splendour at his funeral, and all the mighty gathered together: The president, chief ministers, commander in chief, and other heads of institutions, politicians, and business magnates to pay homage to him. The highest civil award the ‘Nishan-e-Imtiaz’ was conferred upon him by the government of Pakistan. I wonder if his spirit was elevated. The poor people for whom he dedicated his entire life, came in swarms, to pay their respect to him; were outsiders, and could not catch a glimpse of the man who loved them, and was a champion of human rights.
Many common citizens have proposed that a befitting tribute to Edhi, would be to name the new Islamabad airport as Edhi International Airport. What’s in a name? As Shakespeare wrote’ a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’ There are numerous reasons why it is important to do so. Not least because he would become famous; as he was an epitome of humility, simplicity, honesty and service to the poor and marginalised. I remember vividly the day I met Edhi for the first time. Edhi was to launch a new project from Kinnaird College, to raise funds for the poor children to access education. As students’ adviser, I was to receive him and escort him to the Auditorium to address the students. At 8:00 am sharp he arrived in an old van. I was taken aback by his old unwashed shalwar-kameez and tattered slippers!
Pakistan needs to name the new Islamabad airport after Edhi so that for posterity he will remain a shining model for our youth. Once again hope will be rekindled in every Pakistani, that honesty and service, and love for humanity, can be rewarding; and if we follow the example of Edhi, Pakistan can once again have the opportunity to be a frontrunner amongst developing nations.
The author is Professor of English, LSE, and former VC, LCWU