Pakistani Boy Sets Himself Alight Because Parents Could Not Afford School Uniform

A Pakistani boy set himself alight because his parents could not afford to buy him a new school uniform, according to his family, in a sad reminder of the crippling poverty that affects a swath of the country.

Kamran Khan, 13, set himself on fire when his parents couldn't afford to buy him a new white shalwar kameez

A Pakistani boy set himself alight because his parents could not afford to buy him a new school uniform, according to his family, in a sad reminder of the crippling poverty that affects a swath of the country.

Kamran Khan, 13, died on Saturday, five days after dousing himself in petrol.

His mother, Shandana Bibi, said he had only two sets of clothes which were already worn out. He had asked for a new uniform last Saturday, after returning from school.

"I refused to buy a new uniform because I didn't have the money to even buy food," she told The Express Tribune. "Where I would buy a new uniform from?"

Like many children across the country, Kamran's family could not afford school fees. However, such was his promise that he was given free entry to a private school near his home in Charsadda, in the north-west of Pakistan.

Zakir Khan, its principal, said Kamran was one of his best students.

"Due to poverty, Kamran was unable to continue his studies, so he left the school and started collecting scraps with his uncle but I readmitted him without demanding any tuition fee because he was an asset for the future of this country," he said.

Saleem Khan said his brother rarely asked for anything but had pleaded for a smart, white shalwar kameez – the traditional loose trousers and long shirt worn by most Pakistani men – to replace the patched clothes he was forced to wear.

His mother sympathised with him but repeatedly said his family could not afford a new outfit. She finally lost her patience with him and slapped him, said his brother.

The young boy responded by saying, "If you can't buy me a uniform, then I'm going to kill myself," according to Saleem.

He stormed out of their house, doused himself with petrol and lit himself on fire, said his brother, causing burns on 65% of his body. He was taken to an army-run hospital in Punjab province. But the family could only raise one-tenth of the roughly £3,500 they needed for his treatment.