Why Edhi Foundation refused Modi's one crore
Abdul Sattar Edhi would take contributions even from drug-smuggling mafiosi, but he can't be seen taking money from any government.
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There should be no surprise that Edhi Foundation, which looked after Geeta for so long has turned down India's offer of a one-crore-rupee donation. The foundation states clearly on its website that it takes no contributions from government's domestic or foreign, and there is a reason for it.
Abdul Sattar Edhi began charitable work in 1957. In decades since then, his has become not only Pakistan's premier charity, but also one of the country's most loved and respected institutions globally. His personality and stature have threatened the establishment in a manner not very different from, say Mohammed Younus of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Mullahs detest him. Edhi is a devout, traditional Muslim but respects all faiths. He does not convert anybody and destitute he gives refuge to can keep following their faiths, as did Geeta.
Larger conflict arises over money. Edhi attracts sizeable religious charity funding that Pakistani Muslims make. More importantly, he has over the years become a most worth claimant for literally the millions of skins of animals slaughtered during three days of Eid-ul-Adha. These skins are an economy by themselves and are hotly claimed and contested by rival charities. Edhi runs into trouble usually with mullahs on this. Lately, in Karachi, the thuggish local, Mohajir party, the MQM has attacked his domination of Eid skin donations.
A new factor has emerged with Mohammed Hafeez Saeed of Lashkar-e-Taiba launching his own ambulance charity and expanding his footprint in Karachi. This has complicated life further for Edhi.
Edhi's approach to money is practical and entrepreneurial as you would expect from a good Gujju - he is from Junagadh. Like Mother Teresa, he would take contributions from anybody. In his case, even from drug-smuggling mafiosi. But he cannot be seen taking money from any government, least of all the Indian government. That would completely destroy his main strength, his moral stature that defies fundamentalist, state and now terrorist pressures.
You might find this profile I wrote on Edhi, aptly headlined Pakistan's Father Teresa, in India Today 1990.
(This first appeared on the writer's official Facebook page.)