PESHAWAR: People have short memories. Those mourning Mashal’s lynching have forgotten that the same mindset took another youth’s life too some seven springs ago. His fault was playing music and he was killed by his fellow students too.

Adnan Abdul Qadir, a final year student of University of Engineering and Technology, was also beaten in his hostel room for playing guitar by students affiliated with a religio-political party. He died of head injuries later.

As the names, pictures and videos of the students allegedly involved in lynching of their fellow student in Abdul Wali Khan University are emerging, it is shocking to know youth associated with political parties, irrespective of being progressive and conservative, all took part in the heinous act.


UoP teacher admits not a single music function held on campus since long


The act has shocked many but more shocking is the fact that such mindset exists in educational institutions and is ever growing unchecked.

Progressive-looking teachers at one of the biggest and oldest public sector universities -- University of Peshawar -- seemed willy-nilly to pray or offer condolences over killing of Mashal Khan at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan by mob, mostly students.

“There is fear and disappointment in students, who live to see such a heinous act,” said Dr Jamil Chitrali, heading Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies and teachers’ body at UoP.

He said that the very next day all he asked his students was to write what they felt about the incident during the class. “The students as well as teachers need to attend de-radicalisation session,” he said, adding that he started arranging such sessions too.

Dr Chitrali said that about $56 billion were invested in Nebraska University project back in 1980s to make a certain kind of mindset but not a single penny was being invested to reverse that mindset.

The signs were there since long. Opposition by certain political wings of students to diverse activities at universities across the province is a visible sign of such a mindset.

“The students of UoP have been holding farewell and welcome gatherings in private marriage halls as there is no tolerance for music or such gatherings on the campus,” Arshad Haroon, the father of a student told this scribe sometime ago.

Dr Chitrali admitted that not a single music function was held on the campus to entertain youth. Instead, there had been some teachers advising girl students to wear gowns and not to sit on the lawns with boys. The classroom, cafeterias, conferences and seminars in UoP through the years have shown clear segregation of sexes among the students.

University may have been derived from the world ‘universe’ but there are clearly two universes based on gender inside the campuses.

There is a ban on student unions in the universities but student leaders, who occupy rooms in hostels for indefinite period, are active. “They are accountable to heads of their political parties than students,” said a teacher on condition of anonymity fearing backlash.

The vice-chancellors as well as teachers have political wings associated with political parties. The moment their political party comes into power in the province, they come into power in the universities too.

Currently, despite clear-cut tenure and initiation of selection process six months prior to expiry of it to appoint a vice-chancellor at a public sector university, nine out of 19 functional universities in the province have no full-time VC. The teachers, who have been appointed pro-VCs or acting VCs, have affiliation of some sort with the ruling political parties in the province.

“Acting VCs having political understanding with a party comply with the government’s orders better. So the reason for delay is obvious,” said a senior teacher of UoP.

The political interference in some universities are just few indications how the new varsities, still lacking highly qualified staff, have become recruitment havens for ruling politicians in their constituencies.

Even in the well-established universities like UoP, the acting VC is known to many on the campus as “JI man” since he has contested many teachers’ body election from the platform of Tanzeem-i-Asatiza, the teachers wing of Jamaat-i-Islami.

Dr Noor Mohammad, the pro-VC of University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar, has remained president of Tanzeem-i-Asatiza.

The acting VC of Swat University is also said to be political choice of JI.

The pro-VCs in public sector universities in Mardan and Charsadda are said to be men of Qaumi Watan Party, a coalition partner in the provincial government.

Pro-VCs in universities of Karak, Haripur, Malakand are also choices of the ruling political parties because they have some sort of association with these parties.

The political influence of a certain party on a campus is maintained through these appointed heads, teachers and student leaders. In such an environment there is no room for difference of opinion or diverse views. “In such a campus either you are with them or may perish if against them,” says an academician.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2017