”A rickshaw driver along with three daughters and a wife took toxic pills due to financial problems, Geo News reported on Wednesday.
Rickshaw driver Akbar Ali’s brother told media that Akbar, resident of Shahpur Kanjran area was depressed due to poverty and last night along with wife and three daughters took toxic pills.“
Dawn, in today's newspaper, reported possible explanations for the collective suicide:
"During a visit to the area last week by this writer, Akbar’s relatives and neighbours reluctantly conceded that he was finding it hard to pay the lease for the three-wheeler that he had got from a local bank on a 20 per cent interest.
That loan may have been weighing heavy on his mind when he and his wife apparently took poison and one or both of them pushed it down the throat of three of their six children last week. The father and the three children passed away while the mother is still being treated at Jinnah Hospital."
And the heart-wrenching conditions in Akbar's community:
"With tears welling in his eyes, a rickshaw driver living in Shahpur tells this writer that he has limited resources and finds it impossible to manage his household budget. Another rickshaw driver standing close-by exclaims that his children are his only asset, but he is finding it hard to educate them in the current circumstances."
Sadly, none of this even remotely surprising. Changes in fiscal policy and much-publicized government schemes have, at best, merely served as discursive balms for inadequate access to small loans and rising inflation levels. Most low-income earners in Lahore markets report no savings, rely almost wholly on the under-par public education system for children, and seek small loans from relatives or friends. Efforts to widen access of microfinance facilities and poverty reduction schemes have had limited success.
But to make things worse, here's what the government's information minister said on the subject:
"Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira on Friday has advised poor families, which cannot take care of their children, to hand them over to Baitul Maal instead of killing them."
Audaciously, he went on to say this:
"Kaira admitted that the federal and provincial governments cannot control poverty and unemployment.
He said it was not right to criticize the government over suicides due to financial difficulties and inflation because people living in financially stable countries, like the U.S., also commit suicide."
Just doesn't get it, does he?