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Of indifference and empathy

Published Apr 15, 2017 06:43am


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PESHAWAR: The lynching of a young person in Mardan on the basis of allegations by fellow university students has sent shock waves through the country. Besides, the incident has also exposed many faces. There is indifference and empathy.

The chief executive of the province indifferently shrugged off all government responsibility. The aggrieved ones, the father having the patience of Job in this case, still says it is alright if he doesn’t get justice but wants the society to wake up before more youths are engulfed by such mob.

The protector has become indifferent with the vulnerable ones elected them as their leader are trying to show resilience and courage. Such are the norms of a democratic society, these days.

CM Pervez Khattak didn’t hold anyone responsible in the government for failure to save a young man from being lynched by a mob inside Mardan’s public sector university on April 13 over blasphemy allegations in the broad daylight.

Father of lynched student wants society to wake up before more youths become target of mob attacks

“Don’t throw all responsibility at us. Throw it at someone else, too. The provincial government doesn’t have Aladdin’s lamp so that it could fly and be present everywhere,” CM said as he cleared the provincial government of any responsibility to protect the lives of people at public institutions.

Iqbal Jan, the grieving father of the lynched student from Zaida village in Swabi district, holds the serpentine system of governance and rule of law (rather lack of rule of law) for his son’s killing.

“You kill my son and then accuse him of something like that (blasphemy). That is an extreme cruelty,” said Iqbal Jan in a discontented tone yet quickly composing himself while talking to media at the funeral of his son.

He graciously let the government free of the responsibility of his son’s murder but wanted the civil society and rights activist to raise their voice to save youth in the country.

“It is alright! It’s alright that I don’t get justice but hope they will save others from such an end,” he wished.

The CM showing no remorse pinned the responsibility to control such riots on the vice-chancellor though no one has been appointed to that post at the Abdul Wali Khan University.

“It is responsibility of the vice-chancellor to call in police during such riots,” he said, adding that he believed the incident occurred for 10-15 minutes and by the time the police reached there, the youths was killed.

The Abdul Wali Khan University is among 11 universities of the province functioning without a vice-chancellor.

“The VC’s appointment was delayed due to the process involved. I will soon decide about the VC’s appointment,” said the CM, who did not budge from his earlier statement that it was not the police’s failure that the mob lynched a youth even when the five policemen were already inside the campus.

Ironically even the news conference at which the CM spoke on Friday was not about the incident.

The CM turned up at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Hall on time for the news conference but to the surprise of reporters, he was not there to condemn the lynching or accept the government’s failure as the chief executive of the province to check the killing of a youth inside a public sector university. He wanted to speak about his expectations of his government’s upcoming investment road show in China.

The CM said willy-nilly that a judicial commission would hold inquiry into the matter and advised youths not to take the law into their hand.

“If someone has any evidence of blasphemy, they should not take law into their own hands and instead, report it to the police as there is stricter punishment under the law for such crimes,” he said.

The 25-year old Mashal Khan along with his two classmates was accused of posting anti-Islamic material on social media, which was instead inspiring poetry and quotations displayed on his social media pages and even on the walls of his hostel room.

However, the blasphemy allegations spread like the jungle’s fire and engulfed even the truth.

Even more than 24 hours after the incident, not a single person or any evidence on blasphemy charges has been brought forth.

“No evidence or witness has come forward so far to tell what had happened,” he claimed.

Several attempts were made to contact class fellows and teachers of the deceased but there came no knowledge of what ignited the university students to torture, drag and kick a youth in his bloom to death.

Anybody who went through social media account of the deceased found nothing but enlightened views and poetry speaking of a sensitive youth. Many who went through his Twitter and Facebook account complained about having a sleepless night.

It is sad that one will be looking for reasons to know why a youth was killed – as we have assumed him guilty since he is dead and no one is trying to nab those who killed him by taking the law into their hands.

“I am numb and I cannot talk about it,” said an academician (name withheld) shocked by the lynching incident.

One could sense fear in his voice. He feared the sentiments that led to such an act was still there lurking around in every university and school since the curriculum taught for years at them was replete with topics, which could easily ignite a fire and thus, leading one into a extreme point, a point from where there is no return.

He is a father, too, and hopes that no father would see what Iqbal Jan had to see.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2017


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Comments (13) Closed

imran Apr 15, 2017 10:43am

This is the naya KPK. Their politicians blaming the incidence on society while obsolving themselves of any responsibility.

dshuman Apr 15, 2017 11:27am

Anybody who went through social media account of the deceased found nothing but enlightened views and poetry speaking of a sensitive youth.

~ if you have enlightened views you are in wrong country which is created just to force something opposite.

rASHID hussain Apr 15, 2017 01:00pm

just imagine the feelings and situation Masal`s family is undergoing.It is pathetic and deplorable. Our society is becoming intolerant and heading towards a major catastrophe.It has to be stopped at all costs otherwise we are doomed for gloom.My heartfelt sympathies to the family.

Ashar Pervez Apr 15, 2017 01:25pm

@imran clearly your IQ is still in double digits.

M.Saeed Apr 15, 2017 02:13pm

If not any responsibility to protect the lives of people, what else is the prime responsibility of the Chief Minister of the self claimed "best police force" province of the country? He should be ashamed of making such an indifferent statement.

logicaldue Apr 15, 2017 03:43pm

Dear CM - KPK, Your response to the most incident of violence against an unarmed man at the university is wholly inadequate. No one expects you to make miracles, it is quite possible that law could not spring fast enough to stop the lynching but to say that public officials have no responsibility to save lives of their citizens is a spectacular abdication of duty. Here are a few ideas you can easily do. These measures don't require a great deal of imagination or expense. a. Start a publicly funded mass education campaign in KPK about blasphemy laws, educate public about their legal and human rights. b. Establish a fund in the name of slain student with the express purpose of helping his family with legal and other costs. With a small contribution in his name. c. Vigorously investigate and prosecute the the perpetrators.

think Apr 15, 2017 04:01pm

Students who come out of Universities will become future "leaders"does anyone doubt why our present leaders are what they are? and why are future leaders will be what they will be after reading this article. A nation so indoctrinated as we are has no future.

Fowez Apr 15, 2017 05:26pm


Naya Pakistan doesn't happen by pointing a finger.

It happens by looking in the mirror.

Gary Apr 15, 2017 05:46pm

RIP Mashal. Our thoughts are with Mashal's family at this difficult hour. It wasn't Mashal's fault. He was in a wrong place at the wrong time.

Mohammad Ali bajwa Apr 15, 2017 06:24pm

Blasphemy law; a point of no return.

MSH NATH Apr 15, 2017 08:31pm

For whom the bell tolls?

That is what happens when indifference and empathy grows in a population where each is concerned only about their immediate well being. Girls, boys, youth elderly...

Khanm Apr 15, 2017 08:49pm

It is sad but true..How many mobs can we avoid..The entire country is run by various mobs.. aag her taraf lagi ho to damaan ko bachaien Ke se...Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Lynching is a murder. For the past many years our people have been lynched physically, but now it's done politically. We're lynched politically, we're lynched economically, we're lynched socially, we're lynched in every way that you can imagine.

Princess_of_DHUMP Apr 15, 2017 11:15pm

"stricter punishment"? Stricter to what? What Mashal endured? Are you implying that he was guilty without even bothering to lift a finger? Shame on you