Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Why did Kamran torch himself alive?


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

Kamran Khan from Peshawar torched himself alive as his parents were unable to afford his school uniform.—File Photo

PESHAWAR: Like many in Pakistan, 13-year-old Kamran Khan's family did not have enough money to send him to school. He was such a promising student that a local private school allowed him to attend for free, according to his older brother.

Kamran never asked for anything, his brother Saleem Khan said. But last month, he pleaded with his mother for days to buy him a new school uniform, a white shalwar kameez, the loose-fitting shirt and pants worn by both men and women in Pakistan. He was embarrassed that his old one was worn out and patched up.

His mother sympathized with him but repeatedly told him the family didn't have the money. She finally lost her patience a week ago and slapped the boy, according to the brother's account. The youth responded by threatening to kill himself if his parents could not buy him the uniform.

Kamran then stormed out of the house, doused himself with gasoline and lit himself on fire. He suffered burns on 65 per cent of his body and died of his wounds on Saturday, family and officials said Sunday. He was in an army-run hospital in Punjab province, but the family could only raise one-tenth of the roughly $5,500 they needed for his treatment and so he did not get the care he needed.

His family had been struggling to get by and provide for their children, even with the school fees waived. Khan's father borrowed money from relatives to buy a work visa to Saudi Arabia four months ago, but has not managed to find a job there, said Saleem Khan. The mother works as a maid.

The teen used to wander the streets in Shabqadar, a town of 60,000 in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, looking for bits of metal scrap and other items to sell, said his brother.

The family's plight was similar to many of Pakistan's poor, desperately hoping that education could be the ticket to climbing up from the bottom rung of society.

Around 60 per cent of Pakistan's 170 million people live at the poverty level of less than $2 per day, according to the World Bank.

Public school fees average only around $2 per month, but even this is often too much for poor Pakistanis with large families.

About 30 per cent of Pakistanis have less than two years of education, according to a report issued last year by the Pakistani government.

The results are poor even for those kids who do attend school. Around 50 per cent of school children aged six-16 can't read a sentence, said the report.

Comments (26) Closed

Hayder Khan Apr 02, 2012 03:22pm
Bravo... to the 1000 laptops distributed to the shining student and Long live Syed Makhdoom Yusaf Raza Gelani who doesn't have any pride but to emphasize of being the decedent of Sheikh Abudul Qadir. I feel sorry for the people who are committing suicide; it takes a lot of heart and bravery to embrace the death and I just wish that before committing the suicide; these people can also hit at least a stone who are responsible for all this poverty.
Mahrukh Apr 02, 2012 05:14pm
Only if we get promising leaders.....
Manu Apr 02, 2012 07:22pm
cut defence expenditure , invest in human capital for long term progress, else there will be more Kamrans
ghumman Apr 02, 2012 07:44pm
Very sad indeed. May Allah have mercy on the boy's soul
Imran Adeel Haider Apr 02, 2012 07:47pm
The government will never come to rescue, so stop waiting for it to act. We have to realize that *WE* are the Messiahs. The best way to stop another Kamran-like episode is to not let such cases happen, by opening our hearts, eyes and ears to the plights of the poor, hungry, destitute, and in need. Had the family got only a few hundred rupees, Kamran could have had a ticket to a good future. Only a few hundred... How can we face ourselves? Poeple with money have to realize that they need to pass their fruits onwards. Gasoline can burn people from any class.
AK Apr 02, 2012 07:56pm
Poor child. Brings tears to ones eyes. With over a 100 millions desperate parents and children like this no wonder there is always an ample supply of suicide bombers and jihadis.
Malik Apr 02, 2012 07:56pm
Zardari who recently paid Rs. 70 lakh to land his charter plane in England . If that money was distributed more than 100 poor families of Pathans could benefit big time. I wish Imran Khan comes and hangs all the present leaders in the streets of Islamabad.
Atif Salman Apr 02, 2012 09:18pm
Instead of doing pitty on the death of Kamran please feel your responsibility and atleast take responsibility of a poor child school education. This will definitly bring change. I tell you one year school fee, text books and uniform will not cost you more then 10,000.
Ali Akhtar Apr 02, 2012 11:15pm
Is there any organization that help such kids? I am willing to donate but I want to see a reliable organization and would want to be able to contact the kid I am helping so I know that he/she is getting the help.
Pervez Apr 03, 2012 01:44am
If this story is true then it really is sad. I would love to have helped this boy. I think the army demanding this money is disgraceful and leaders should be held directly responsible for this boys death.
Kaiser Waziri Apr 03, 2012 01:56am
Invest in human capital. This is the only capital we have! Our politicians are like vultures who loot and plunder as if there is no tomorrow. All of them are the same! Let us all help the poor who are marginalised and who need our help! May God give us the strength and the will to do that!
zaffar Nagi Apr 03, 2012 02:29am
If you look from Zardari´s point of view , then there is nothing wrong in Pakistan.He spends his life with his children in a lavish president palace.O people of Pakistan, rise against such leaders.
Adil Jadoon Apr 03, 2012 08:14am
You get what you vote for!
Mrs. Munim Apr 03, 2012 11:25am
The school should be investigated. Maybe the poor kid was being bullied due to his appearance. And yes, Atif and Imran, I agree that it is 'We the people,' who need to act, and not wait for some miracle govt. to lift our miseries.
Asif Murjani Apr 03, 2012 03:03pm
I wish we could somehow persuade all these mothers not to have so many children when they cannot afford to bring them up.
Fakir Apr 03, 2012 07:58pm
Dream on. No hope of that
Saba Apr 03, 2012 08:13pm
The first thing "We the People" need is Justice and Law & Order. But how??? Where to start???
Saba Apr 03, 2012 08:21pm
There are several reliable organizations that are doing good work. Edhi is the prominent one. The thing is where & how to look for deserving people who donot spread their hands in front of others, inspite of extreme poverty? I suggest we start from our own families, extended families, friends, contacts; and give our zakat to the poor referred by family & friends. I know a gentleman (retired professor) who runs a school for the poor. Reliable and trustworthy. If you're interested then let me know.
Raoon Kundi Apr 03, 2012 10:35pm
Great point. We need to have a national debate on this bullying issue.
Asif Apr 04, 2012 05:51am
I hope that Allah shows mercy on this departed boy. This is probably happening more often now after former President Musharraf time. But you all wanted democracy.
Faisal Qamar Apr 04, 2012 09:28am
Why are people blaming the government and not themselves? Education is not even the top 5th priority. As a society, weddings, funerals, aqeeqahs, birthdays, eating out, religious celebrations etc are more important than education. I mean, the now is more important than the tomorrow. How many libraries does this country has? One can probably count on fingers. Masses that have messed up priorities will not have a different end. We are collectively torching our future, sometimes one person at a time.
Syed Australia Apr 04, 2012 09:55am
Shameful incident for the government of an Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Mr Zardari & Gilani get out of your palaces and behave like atrue servents of the people. Do not forget its the people who put you there not your ability. Also do not forget to learn lesson from Saddam and Qadafi's end game.
Basit Iqbal Apr 04, 2012 02:18pm
well question arising we are starting comments on government which is out of bound thing, what as individual we can do to save a many other like him, so need to see our surrounding
OlO Apr 04, 2012 02:24pm
This is the most heartless thing I have ever read in the context of a child's death. How do you know that parents have many children? Just because they are poor, they should not have children? What about the responsibility of the state and the society? What about the Islamic brotherhood? What about our Zakat and Sadaqa? Where has it all gone? Why do we spend in luxuries when we know that more than half of Pakistan cannot fulfill all their needs? Children are not commodities. Please do not make them a luxury for poor people. Your comment is truly shameful and disgusting, Asif.
madhu Apr 04, 2012 02:46pm
Sad story In most states in India, education for children is compulsory, free and comes along with free food. In some states, uniforms, books and other things are given free for children. Even though giving free laptops and cycles to children in a southern states are criticized as popularity gimmicks, the children do benefit. It is sad that such things cannot be expected from Pakistani politicians. Pakistan has its own intrinsic problems too- Uncontrolled population leading to large family size, low women's literacy due religious believes etc..
rene Apr 04, 2012 06:13pm
i like this.You guys don't believe in the concept of family planning but cry when a child suffers.Why give birth when you can't afford.