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Wise words of a bereaved father

Published Apr 19, 2017 06:56am

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“THERE is a Mashal in every home. We have to protect them,” said the father of Mashal Khan. How often does one find such dignity in the face of an unspeakable tragedy as that which has befallen Iqbal Jan’s family? His stoicism is not only deeply moving; it is also inspiring. For the rest of his days, Mr Jan must live with the knowledge that his 23-year-old son, accused of having committed blasphemy, met a terrible, premature end at the hands of a rabid mob, beaten mercilessly and then shot. Only police intervention reportedly prevented his body from being set on fire. It is a calamity that is personal to him and his family in a way that it cannot be for anyone else, however affected by this ghastly murder. Yet Iqbal Jan has chosen not to make it only about his personal loss. He has asked that his son’s killers be punished, not to bring closure to his family but so that no other family experiences the grief they have to endure.

More people must heed the call that Mashal’s father has given, his plea for peace and tolerance against what he described as forces of darkness that drown out the light. While Imran Khan spoke out promptly to condemn the murder, others were slow off the mark, apparently waiting for the blasphemy allegation to be refuted by authorities before they committed themselves. They betrayed their narrow thinking, not to mention their cowardice, by their silence. This lynching, and those that have come before, are about much more than blasphemy. They are about the utter absence of the rule of law and the conviction among certain segments of society that acts of extreme violence can be committed with impunity as long as the tag of blasphemer is attached to the target. More evidence, some of it on video, has emerged about the motive behind the murderous attack on Mashal and the threats — what else but of being accused of blasphemy? — given to those on the scene not to reveal the identity of the person who shot him.

Sometimes out of tragedy, a chance at redemption presents itself. This is that moment. It is an opportunity for this country’s leadership to rein in what has become an out-of-control epidemic of ‘vigilante justice’, an aberration of the very concept of justice, driven as it is by raw emotion — often manipulated by vested interests — rather than based on evidence and administered by a court of law. There has been talk now and then of enacting legislation to make false allegation of blasphemy a punishable offence. Several senators on Monday once again called for such an amendment to the blasphemy law. The state must rise to the occasion. The least we can do is ensure that Mashal did not die in vain.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017

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Comments (15) Closed



Public Apr 19, 2017 09:05am

The least we can do is ensure that Mashal did not die in vain. "There is a Mashal in every home. We have to protect them."

Eyes getting wet. Want to cry over this tragedy. Salute to bold father and salute to sane family.

Imran Qazi Apr 19, 2017 09:56am

Undoubtedly, The good nature and humane attitude of Iqbal Jan led the people to conclude that Mashal khan was innocent as the apple does not fall far from the tree

Tahir A Apr 19, 2017 10:06am

A masterpiece of an editorial. Keep it up Dawn, you are the only hope.

"others were slow off the mark, apparently waiting for the blasphemy allegation to be refuted by authorities before they committed themselves. "

Absolutely gutless and spineless leaders we have. The other day, a prominent statesperson deleted congratulatory tweet posts as soon as it became known of the faith of the celebrity person matching that with a "minority" community of Pakistan. Sir, such is the senseless logic which prevails among our political, religious leaders and the so called educated crowds. Bigotry.

Majid Apr 19, 2017 10:49am

Very wise words from Mashal Khan's father.

Akil Akhtar Apr 19, 2017 11:01am

The father is brave man and a much wiser one compared to our so called political leaders....

Khalifa Apr 19, 2017 12:48pm

Thank you DAWN for writing this editorial about the views shared by Mashal's father. One can see a brave statesman hidden in his humble personality. I request all concerned to please make efforts to protect him and his family.

Asif A Shah Apr 19, 2017 02:07pm

Keep the story alive until every culprit is found and sentenced. That may deter others from engaging in this kind of conduct. Thank you! " Dawn".

Ranjit Haripur Apr 19, 2017 02:10pm

Moving. An education scholarship fund must be made in memory of Mashal for future Uni students. Let not his murder be in vain.

ahmedj Apr 19, 2017 02:35pm

No doubt Mashal Khan was not an ordinary person because his father himself was an extraordinary man.

We can have more Mashal Khans in every home only if we have Iqbal Jans to groom their children.

AW Apr 19, 2017 02:54pm

Mr. Iqbal Jan's thought process, his composure and his message to others has shown the way forward to the people, the government and the parliament of this country. The question is if they will follow suit with decisive actions? It is those decisions and actions which shall determine what kind of a country Pakistan wants to be.

Nasir London Apr 19, 2017 02:59pm

Politicians, the Judges and the Police must prove Mashal did not die in vain.

arshad durrani Apr 19, 2017 06:54pm

We are nowhere near addressing the urgent need for social re-engineering.Guns can only go thus far.I fear we are losing on the idealogical front.The militants/islamic extremists are more determined to fight to the end.Their capacity to constantly inject new recruits has not diminished.There has to be a voluntary surrender of resources at the disposal of elite.Massive resources are needed to touch the lives of the marginalised in the cities and rural expanse of Pakistan.No less important is re-distribution of state lands to the landless as well as genuine land reforms by taking away massive jagirs from the landed elite.

Skkk Apr 19, 2017 08:02pm

I am still amazed that we have people like Iqbal Jan among us. What could we achieve if power and authority is given to such people. True class!!

Saeeds Apr 19, 2017 08:34pm

Every time I see Iqbal Jan on TV, I stand up in respect.

gknatarajan Apr 19, 2017 11:15pm

salute the father for his thoughtful saying!