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In the midst of the sectarianism, murder and mayhem besieging our land, the charred remains of a burnt-out story rose up and whispered to me above all the din. That of 13 year old Kamran Khan, who committed suicide last week by pouring petrol on his body and setting himself on fire.

It wasn’t because of America’s war against terror, or India’s covert operations, that a boy as young as 13 felt compelled to end his own life. It was because of his poverty-stricken family’s inability to buy the child a new uniform when his old pair became tattered enough to start causing him embarrassment in front of his peers. Even as I pen these words, I’m struck afresh by the magnitude of this tragedy.

After Kamran’s father moved to Saudia Arabia in search of a livelihood that he ultimately couldn’t secure, the financial stress faced by his mother was enough to make him drop out of school and start selling scrap. When his principal found out, he offered to re-enrol Kamran at his school for free. That wasn’t to prove enough of a lifeline for the child, however, and in the desire for a new uniform, he burnt himself to death.

Pakistan, these are your real problems, these are your real tragedies, and these are the people you need to focus your energies on. America, India, or even the entire list of our ‘sworn enemies’ added together are not the culprit here. Rather, it’s the failure to provide our citizens with the very basic of necessities that has led to Kamran’s suicide. You need to have surpassed your threshold of endurance and resilience to do that. And for a 13 year old boy to have surpassed his, is a matter of immense shame for our entire nation. Read the rest of this entry

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