Pakistan schoolboy self-immolates over school uniform

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by JAYRAM, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. JAYRAM

    JAYRAM 2 STRIKE CORPS Senior Member

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    Pakistan schoolboy's self-immolation over school uniform raises alarm over poverty


    By Richard Leiby and Haq Nawaz Khan,

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — As the school term ended across Pakistan last week, proud families flocked to their children’s grade-promotion ceremonies much as they do in the United States. For a 13-year-old named Kamran Khan, the occasion promised special honors: He ranked first in his class.

    But instead of attending, Kamran set himself on fire with gasoline — ashamed, his family said, that he was too poor to afford a new school uniform as he entered the seventh grade.

    Even in a country where 60 percent of the population lives in deep poverty, the boy’s self-immolation raised alarm. Kamran, who died Saturday from his burns, has become a symbol of the hopelessness of families crushed by high unemployment, rising prices for staples such as wheat and skyrocketing fuel costs.

    “We lost such a brilliant student, and only because of extreme poverty,” said Zakir Ullah Khan, principal of Mohmand Education Academy, a private school that enrolled Kamran for free because of his academic promise.

    The boy’s family of seven lived with relatives in Pir Qilla, a town of about 2,000 families in a rural area about 40 miles from the Afghan border in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Relatives said that Kamran’s mother is a maid and that his unemployed father went to Saudi Arabia three months ago looking for work.

    With his family unable to afford treatment, Kamran succumbed to the burns that were over 65 percent of his body.

    Although statistics are sparse, officials say suicides have increased among all age groups in recent years in Pakistan. “Primarily, it’s joblessness and poverty,” said Zohra Yusuf, head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

    Kamran’s March 25 self-immolation also seemed connected to other stresses. It followed a bitter quarrel with his mother, Shahnaz Bibi, who said she had told him that she could not afford to buy him a new school outfit — a white pants-and-tunic set called a shalwar kameez — citing the need to feed the family, which included three daughters and another son.

    “He threatened me that he was going to kill himself,” Bibi, 40, said in a tearful interview in Pir Qilla. “I felt he was only threatening.”

    To obtain the gas, Bibi said, Kamran used his childhood savings, breaking open a small pot — the equivalent of a piggy bank.

    “Mama, I am going forever,” he reportedly told her before setting himself on fire.

    “I was totally helpless,” she recalled, “and, within minutes, his body was burnt.”

    Kamran also harbored resentment because his mother had given up for adoption a newborn daughter two years ago, according to Kamran’s elder brother, Saleem Khan. “Had we not been poor, we would have our sister with us,” the 17-year-old said.

    But Bibi said she did not regret her decision, because at the time she could not afford to feed, clothe or educate the children she already had.

    The episode also led to marital strains, according to those close to the family.

    Bibi collected donations and took her burned son in a relative’s car to two hospitals in Peshawar — but one would not admit him, and the other did not have a burn unit. She then took the boy to a military hospital with a burn center in the town of Kharian in Punjab province.

    She said the hospital wanted 500,000 rupees, or about $5,500, to treat Kamran — a sum impossibly beyond her reach. By then, Kamran was near death.

    The mother ended up selling her gold earrings to pay for an ambulance to transport her son’s body back to their home town for burial.

    A military spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about Bibi’s account.

    By reaching the seventh grade, Kamran had achieved the average educational standard in Pakistan. The expected length of schooling is seven years, according to figures from the U.N. Development Program.

    Fifty-five percent of Pakistanis are illiterate, by U.N. measurement.

    Another high-profile self-immolation occurred in October, when Raja Khan, an unemployed father of two from Sindh province, used kerosene to set himself ablaze in front of Parliament in Islamabad. He was not related to Kamran Khan.

    Raja Khan, 23, cited poverty and asked the government to take care of his children. He left a letter that said: “I am taking this step because I am fed up with my financial condition.” (His third child was born within days of his death.)

    Public school fees in Pakistan run just over $2 a month. Even so, many in the country never rise above the poverty line. Those who knew young Kamran Khan said he seemed destined for a better life.

    “Kamran was a shining, outstanding, calm and talented student,” said Zakir Ullah Khan, the principal, who had known the boy since nursery school.

    Besides his top ranking in the sixth grade, Kamran had achieved the No. 2 ranking in the entire academy, where classes extend to the 10th grade.

    While relatives and friends gathered to mourn the boy Sunday, his mother sobbed as she recounted Kamran’s life and accomplishments. And she said, “I should have bought a new uniform for him.”

    Khan reported from Pir Qilla, Pakistan. Special correspondent Shaiq Hussain in Islamabad contributed to this report.


    Pakistani boy’s self-immolation over school uniform raises alarm about poverty - The Washington Post
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Very sad.

    Poverty is the bane of all developing nations, to include India.
     
  4. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Pakistan is in dire need of family planning - this family has 7 children and father jobless. What is the need to have so many children when they r unable to provide for them. Pakistan's population has exploded from 30 million in 1947 to 180 million today.
     
  5. JAYRAM

    JAYRAM 2 STRIKE CORPS Senior Member

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    His job is already said here!. 7 childrens..
     
  6. Vishwarupa

    Vishwarupa Senior Member Senior Member

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    Hope we dont have refugees from Pakis & India is taking steps to contains refugees.
     
  7. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    pakis everywhere do the same thing, in UK and main land Europe i have seen pakis and other Muslims community focusing on only one thing producing children. Even they r born and brought up in western world, still they have the thinking of medieval period.

    on average all muslims families here in UK or Holland has 4 or more children. here they have advantage they dont have to think about their upbringing. govt benefits does it all.
     
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Most Pakistanis are poverty stricken and in the lower strata of society anywhere.

    That is their entertainment..
     
  9. Tronic

    Tronic Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Although I'm usually against generalizations of entire communities; I myself have witnessed this in Canada. One Pakistani lady I know has 11 children. She does not work, and her husband lives in Pakistan. Government pays welfare, plus pays her child support for each one of her children! She is most likely doling in more money from the government than most middle income households earn! Another first was watching a buddy from Pakistan get married over the phone! The girl was in Pakistan, and the function seemed to go like a normal function would, minus the girl. Her presence came over the phone as they said their "qabool hai's", and they were married! :O

    That said, I also have some really close Pakistani friends whose families are no different than my own. I believe the difference is family background, and education. Barring one friend and his family, who are more observant in their faith, all the other chaps drink! Not just them, but all the men in their family drink! Openly, and without any taboos. It's quite a contrast.
     
  10. Blackwater

    Blackwater Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    well iam not saying all muslims family does the same.

    people from turkey are better educated than other Muslims communities and modern Muslims.they do white collar jobs in Holland, generally has 1 or 2 kids.

    i think its the pakis and morracans, Somalis and other few Muslims communities, who love to do this pass time...
     
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