Daylight robbery in Karachi is so commonplace as to rarely merit a headline, but the robbery at the head office of the Edhi Foundation on October 19 is an exception. Abdul Sattar Edhi is our greatest living philanthropist, a man whose work is known and respected around the world, and he is himself a national icon, a man Pakistan can be proud of. None of that prevented as many as eight robbers from holding him and his staffers hostage as they went about their business. They broke into storage vaults and made off with 5kgs of gold, and foreign and local currency worth millions of rupees.
One might wonder why the valuables were not in a bank or held by a security company, and it appears that the robbers had prior knowledge of where the gold and money were kept as they went straight to where they were under lock and key. Mr Edhi was later quoted as saying that he did not understand how they knew where he kept the valuables, but it only takes one corrupt, aggrieved or merely greedy staffer to go for such a valuable haul.
The cash and gold mostly did not belong to Mr Edhi; it was being held on behalf of those who trusted him and it will be a severe loss to many. There were no security guards and no CCTV cameras either. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the incident and the police are now investigating what must be one of the largest single robberies in the city’s recent history. It is also symbolic of the levels of crime in Karachi, where nobody is safe from the casual snatching of mobile phones, holding up of car drivers at gunpoint, burglaries, and often murder in the committing of acts of robbery and theft. It is also symbolic of the depravity of our culture, where a man such as Mr Edhi is targeted. It was not only Abdul Sattar Edhi who was robbed; it was the entire nation.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2014.