Iqbal Jan, the father of a university student in Mardan who was lynched by a vigilante mob earlier this week over allegations of blasphemy called for unity and tolerance in an appearance on DawnNews.

"My message is for people to unite. On the path to peace and love, we will have to bring people together," Jan said on DawnNews' programme 'Do Raaye' Saturday night.

Jan's son, Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student of Abdul Wali Khan University was attacked and killed by a mob, incited by rumours, that grew to several hundred people.

"Mashal was brutally killed. But he can never die, he is alive," Jan said. "In every house, there is a mashal (torch) of education. We have to protect them," he added.

Jan said that in order to tackle intolerance in the country, "poisonous elements that teach conflict will have to be removed from [university] curriculum."

"We should respect everyone, no matter what religion they belong to. We as Muslims should be respected and those who are not Muslims should also be respected. These are the things they should include in the curriculum" Jan said.

Remembering his son's childhood, Jan said Mashal had never troubled anyone, either at home or in the neighbourhood.

"He would just watch some cricket on TV," Jan said, explaining that his son had a keen interest in education.

"Mashal was very passionate about his studies. He would study for 15 hours a day. He believed education could become a source of great strength," Jan said, adding that Mashal would encourage his brothers and sister to study as well.

"He was a peaceful, tolerant person."

Jan explained that Mashal had studied engineering in Russia for one year.

However, unable to pursue his education abroad due to the family's limited financial resources, Mashal had returned to Pakistan where he began his studies in journalism.

When asked his views on the judicial inquiry ordered by the government in the aftermath of the incident that took his son's life, Jan said that he believed that justice could only be expected when the government was pressured by rights groups and society.

"The judicial inquiry is a good thing, the Supreme Court's suo motu action is also a good thing. But when will we be able to expect justice from the government?" he asked.

"If our civil society organisations, organisations for justice, professors and human rights activists pressure the government, then maybe something will happen," he said.

Jan called those who took his sons life "pioneers of darkness".

"They drown out the light. How long will they do this for? The light should be able to shine through."

He added that they, however, "are also the children of this country", and therefore, the only way to prevent such tragedies from happening in the future is by bringing change in society.

"They are people of this society. We will have to bring change. Bring change in yourself," Jan asserted.

He called on people to raise their voices to protect other children like Mashal.

"There is a Mashal in every home," he said.

Mashal was laid to rest on Friday in his village in Swabi district.


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