Pakistani women shout slogans, during a protest calling for better wages, on May Day, in Lahore. Image Credit: AP

Karachi: A father of six daughters Tuesday drenched himself with petrol and set himself on fire in protest of his long-term unemployment as Pakistan's premier vowed to raise the existing grant for labourers' deaths to mark May Day.

Abdul Razzaq Ansari, a 45-year resident of Badin district, some 170 kilometres east of Karachi, immolated himself outside the Badin Press Club in front of dozens of onlookers. Television footage showed Ansari engulfed in flames as people tried to put the fire out.

After the fire was put out Ansari beat himself as his wife and daughters cried.

He was rushed to a government hospital but it had no facilities to treat the burn patient.

"He was brought to us and we were just able to give him first aid as we don't have facility for the severe burn patients," a doctor at the Badin Civil Hospital told Gulf News.

"He has up to 50 per cent burns on his body, which could be fatal," he said.

Police officer Naik Mohammad said they were investigating the matter but so far no case had been registered.

Local people said Ansari had been faced with starvation because he had been unemployed for so long.

Power crisis

Self immolation has become a common phenomenon in recent years because of poor economic performance and rising unemployment.

According to a labour force survey carried out in 2010-2011, out of 58 million people eligible to work in the country, only 32 per cent were employed.

A grinding crisis in the energy sector has caused serious unemployment. The power crisis alone has rendered four hundred thousand jobless.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani yesterday announced an increase in the minimum wage of labourers to Rs8,000 (Dh557).

The survey said in 2010, the government raised the minimum wage to Rs7,000 from Rs5,000 but only 30 per cent get Rs5,000 a month.

Pakistan's state owned news agency reported that the prime minister, speaking to a charged crowd during a May Day function in Islamabad, also announced an increase in the death grant for labourers from Rs150,000 to Rs500,000 and he also said there would be an increase in grants for labourer's children's weddings from Rs70,000 to Rs100,000.