After being off the grid for two days, prominent social worker Abdul Sattar Edhi was located by the Pakistan Coast Guards – in Balochistan.
Edhi had set out to alleviate the suffering of the residents of the Granth village in Balochistan, who were battling a malaria epidemic. The village is inhabited by around 2,000 people and is located about 75km away from the Nani temple, near the Hingol river. About eight people and 150 camels have so far died from the condition and this prompted Edhi to put together a team of 11 doctors and leave for the village on November 15. They took antibiotic medicines, goods for children and Rs0.7 million in cash and with them.
Edhi’s son, Faisal, told The Express Tribune that he lost touch with his father the day that the team departed. Edhi’s family heard no news from him for two days and this worried them. They sought the help of the Pakistan Coast Guards. “He had not taken his daily medicine for diabetes and we were concerned about his health,” said Faisal.
The head of Battalion 1, Major Kazim Zafar, told The Express Tribune that the search operation was started on November 18. After a seven-hour search, the 15-member rescue team found Edhi, who was unhurt. He was making his way back from the village. Major Zafar said that no signals could reach the location because the terrain is dry and surrounded by mountains. He added that the village is so primitive and remote that it is difficult to find on the map.
Edhi and his team used camels and motorcycles to traverse the mountainous region. Major Zafar said that Edhi has previously travelled to the same place and had maintained contact with the Pakistan Coast Guard headquarters in Agor, Othal. However, he refused to take any security with him.
The spokesperson of the Edhi Foundation, Anwar Kazmi, dismissed the idea that Edhi had actually been kidnapped and said that it was not a serious incident. He said that Edhi’s family and the workers of the Edhi foundation were only worried because of his age and health concerns.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2011.