Misplaced priorities

Representative Image

A few days back, an attempted suicide bid of a family belonging to Lahore captured massive media headlines and space, doubtlessly, a heart-wrenching and pitiable event shook society. A deprived family of three girl children and their father attempted suicide losing the lives of all innocent unbloomed lilies ageing under teens who have been sentenced for being born in a less fated clan as they had lost the right to survive before this ruthless community for being poor. The ill-fated family’s custodian was not belonging to any political elite or renowned business community or bureaucratic family or some prominent public officer holder or any other blessed community figure, but merely a daily wager who failed to feed his off-springs for uncounted days and nights failed to pay house rent for months and months, failed to acquire basic necessities to his girl children that every civilized society usually offers voluntarily even “non-Muslim” ones do as to their citizens’ birth rights as better than Muslim communities. The failed man may have pinned hopes on the Society or the State to come to his survival but he could never realize that both have already failed themselves on different forums like Society on moral, social and ethical grounds however, the State is at the monetary or financial stage.

Our society’s collective behaviour and attitude sails through the deepest level of morality and the State are already on the verge of default, how come to expect them they lean forward for any common bereaved person or family? A few months earlier, a marketing manager belonging to Karachi had also jointly committed suicide after poisoning his spouse and four children due to undergoing the worst financial conditions. There are countless cases being reported on media in routine to run the wake-up call to the government from her deep slumber but all in vain. But, fortunately, the State of the Islamic Republic had taken an initiative as legislating suicide as a criminal offence under Section 325 of the Pakistan Penal Code which imposes an attempt to suicide as punishable by implicating a fine to the tune of Rs10,000 along with imprisonment. Treating suicide as a crime is more than a tragedy in a Pakistani setting. Negligence on part of the government in this aspect has caused the suicide rate in Pakistan to grow much above the worldwide average which is more than 8% of annual deaths in Pakistan, a ringing alarm bell situation.

The sensitive nature of the topic ‘suicide’ and other social, legal and religious taboos linked with the behaviour and level of melancholy among masses, such attitudes usually remain little reported in the Pakistani community. Having said that, the mystifying rise in suicidal behaviours is never completely get reported and discussed at bigger and more appropriate forums in Pakistani setting, despite being a super harsh reality, these trends have also been not well taught and educated, even lack government sponsored or independent research work on the core issue.

Almost every Pakistani government set-up had very least interest in yearly data reflecting a tantamount increase in suicidal trends among citizens of different ages and sexes, remorsefully stating all this, Pakistan yet doesn’t compile national suicide statistics at any forum and only rely on World Health Organisation (WHO) for the estimation. Lately, WHO estimated the intensifying suicide rate in Pakistan to be 8.9% per annum of total reported deaths. Astonishingly, Pakistani think tanks never bothered their precious time in knowing the proposed causes of the self-silencing of citizens for any prominent reasons.

Pardon me for saying this, but we as a society are less inclined to work to covering-up the reasons that inspire individuals to commit suicide. The exponential growth of inflation, depleting buying powers to bread and butter, immense psychological pressures, the Government’s cold response to public miseries etc. are the root causes for a cowardly man to hold an act as to carpet all his problems. Four other contributing grounds to convince a weak fellow to end his life are egoistic, altruistic, economistic and fatalistic reasons. Governments’ lack of seriousness to tackle public grievances is a shameful act on part of the custodian of public rights. Mournfully, between 15 and 35 Pakistanis have been committing suicide every day, the ratio is as high as one person kills himself after every hour and the remorseful ratio is worsening day by day without any qualms and the government is busy playing political tactics with the opposition while opposition also doing same point scoring.

Paradoxically, there is a complete paucity of pet information on suicide incidents in Pakistan. Being an Islamic nation, here data collection on the matter also poses formidable challenges because a variety of social, legal, and religious elements make reporting and diagnosing the causes of suicide difficult, while incidents of suicide are regularly being reported in newspapers and electronic mediums. A two years analysis of all suicidal reports appearing in an English daily revealed 305 suicides reported from 35 cities. Men (205) totally outnumbered women by 2:1 ratio, while there were singles in access and the trend was reversed in women. The majority of subject affectees were under thirty five years of age and bearing some “domestic issue”. Whereas, the study reveals that poverty is the prime cause of numerous household issues and differences.

Pakistan’s economy is in a shamble for many years, there are no serious efforts on board to chalk out any prolong beneficial financial strategy to bring the country out of a financial meltdown. Yet, instead of carrying ex-finance Minister, Miftah’s policies who successfully negotiated not only one but two instalments with IMF, making him the sole finance Minister to do so in the last couple of years, he was also thrown out by the same party. Technically, it testifies to the absence of nationalism and patriotism among the sitting set-up that a finance minister of their own choice was just removed in the guise to bring another favoured one. On one end, Pakistan’s economy collapsed so drastically because of the ruling elite’s insatiable lust for the riches and privileges of power and on the other end, the general public is losing their right to live with basic necessities. Highlighting two different scopes at one forum is the main purpose to ring an alarm bell to the community that Pakistan’s eighty percent of the public living below the poverty line bearing the unfair social structures in the country while on the other pole, the elite continue to squeeze the state’s resources to build their own sugar industries, accumulate capital, buy luxury properties, enjoy protocol etc. What the nation needs to do is to realize who their real mentor is and what only a pack of plunders and looters is.