Sep 132017
 
Growing intolerance

We all cry over the plight of Rohingya Muslims. We also fiercely condemn the inhumane treatment meted out to Muslims at the hands of religious bigots anywhere in the world – especially in the West. We also demand equality and freedom of religious practices. All is justified. But do we practice what we preach? Are minority groups in Pakistan safe? Are they getting equal rights? The recent death of a Christian student, Sheron Masih, in Burewala highlights the growing intolerance in our country. Hypocrisy is at its best. Owing to the radicalisation of our education system it is hardly surprising that a Christian student was allegedly barred from using a water cooler as his action would contaminate water, making it unfit for pious Muslim students to drink. This would have led Masih to remain thirsty for long hours of schooling in this hot weather. However, Masih rebelled and his attempt to drink water from the cooler cost him his life. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. The country’s education system has deeply been radicalised at all levels. Paradoxically, universities have become breeding grounds of intolerance and extremism. Militant organisations recruit students from these universities. The cases of Noreen Laghari, Saad Aziz and Karim Sarosh Siddiqui supplement the fact that extremism in universities is increasing. Hostels are sanctuaries of the ‘agent of chaos.’ Also, the investigation in the Mashal Khan case revealed that there is an unholy nexus between corruption and extremism in campuses. The scenario is gloomy and for [Read More…]

Jun 112017
 

SWABI: The parents of the students arrested in connection with Mashal Khan’s lynching as well as social activists and leaders of the Awami National Party (ANP) have expressed their reservations over the report presented to the Supreme Court by the joint investigation team (JIT) probing into the case. They claim that the coalition government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa  (K-P) used its offices and police “to save their blue-eyed boys” in the probe into the murder of 23-year-old Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) Mardan student Mashal, who was beaten up by a mob of students and then shot dead on the campus on April 13 over accusations of committing blasphemy. “In my opinion, the JIT has only focused on the actors and didn’t identify or investigate those who planned and ordered this heinous crime,” ANP Central Vice President Bushra Gohar told The Express Tribune on the phone on Sunday. Gohar said the JIT had not investigated key suspects including the AWKU journalism department chairman, district administration officials and the Mardan DSP who were “clearly seen planning and executing” the attack and instigating the mob. Mardan Lynching: JIT says Mashal’s murder was premeditated “The investigation clearly failed to take into account who was allowed [by the district administration] to hold a rally in support of the killers and who wasn’t allowed to hold a peaceful demonstration by social activists the day after the murder,” she maintained. The ANP leader further said students, AWKU employees and members of different political parties were involved in the attack on Mashal [Read More…]

Jun 042017
 

PESHAWAR: Mashal Khan’s murder was premeditated, the joint investigation team (JIT) – formed to investigate the murder of the 23-year-old university student over blasphemy accusations – has concluded in its findings The JIT, while raising questions about the role of the Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) administration and the Mardan police, cleared the charges of blasphemy against Mashal, a student of journalism who was beaten up and then shot dead on the university’s campus by a mob of students on April 13. “From the investigations carried out as of yet, none of the charges of blasphemy levelled against Mashal, Abdullah and Zubair [Mashal’s friends] have been proven to be true,” the report read. AWKU administration, police behind Mashal Khan’s killing, claims father The 308-page report, which comprises eight pages of the 13-member JIT and 300 pages of the police record, read by The Express Tribune, is loaded with confessions, stories of corruption and happenings that led to Mashal’s murder. In its conclusion, the investigation body said Ajmal Mayar, the president of the university employees’ union, during interrogation had confessed that a month before the murder, Sabir Mayar, the head of Pakhtun Students Federation (PSF) and Asad Katlang, an employee of the university, came to his office and told him that they had to “get rid of Mashal” as he was a “threat to the party”. The JIT observed that both Sabir and Asad were at large since the incident took place and it was unclear as to tactics had been deployed to [Read More…]

May 212017
 
Mardan university reopens after Mashal murder; weapons recovered during hostel search

Weapons were recovered from the the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan on Monday, as the university's campuses reopened for the first time since Mashal Khan, a student at the university, was lynched by a mob on accusations of blasphemy, DawnNews reported. Guns, pistols and knives were recovered from the university as police ran a search operation.─DawnNews Police conducted a search operation at the university's hostel early Monday morning and recovered guns, pistols and knives. Drugs were also seized from the hostel.The university was closed down and hostels were vacated to avoid a further escalation of violence after the lynching incident. The university had remained closed for 40 days.A day earlier, a gathering was held in Swabi to observe Mashal's chehlum. Members of civil society and leaders of political and religious parties present at a gathering called for giving exemplary punishment to the killers of Mashal.The 23-year-old student of Mass Communication at the Abdul Wali Khan University was attacked by a vigilante mob, incited by rumours, for allegedly "publishing blasphemous content online". Mashal was brutally beaten and shot by the mob and succumbed to the injuries he received lat month.Mardan police have so far arrested 53 suspects for involvement in Mashal Khan murder case, including the key suspect, Imran, who is suspected of having shot the student.Police, however, have not yet arrested Arif Khan, a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) councillor, who was seen warning a crowd not to name Mashal Khan's murderer after the student's lynching in video footage. Click for [Read More…]

May 112017
 
Senators urge parliament to act against misuse of blasphemy law

The Senate on Thursday deliberated on the Mashal Khan lynching case as the Senators urged the parliament to play its due role against misuse of the blasphemy law, reported Radio Pakistan.Khan, a 23-year-old student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, was killed by a vigilante mob for allegedly "publishing blasphemous content online", according to the initial police report. Senator Farhatullah Babar of PPP in his inaugural remarks said that the mob violence was increasingly becoming a routine in the society. He said the parliament should play its role to prevent misuse of blasphemy law. "Some elements are suppressing the expression of freedom in the name of religion which is regrettable," he added.Senator Nihal Hashmi of PML-N said that blasphemy law prevents people from taking law in hands as the state is there to check any blasphemous act. He urged Ulema to give the true message of Islam. "Similarly, the liberal elements should also try better understanding of religion instead of criticising it," he added. Muhammad Azam Khan Swati said politicians, lawmakers, Ulema, lawyers and every segment of society will have to play their due role to change the extremist mindset and to present a soft image of Pakistan and Islam.Sherry Rehman of PPP said, "Growing intolerance is becoming a serious issue of our society." She said serious efforts should be made to check mob violence.Rubina Khalid said that war against terrorism cannot be won without having a counter-narrative to check extremism in the country. She urged the Senate chairman to [Read More…]

May 102017
 
Growing intolerance

An exclusive mindset has been deliberately created by a fear mongering state narrative in the last three decades, dictated by specific security interests. The state’s policy of creating homogeneity through religion seems to have proven counterproductive. The journey has clearly been from religion to sectarianism. Incidents like Mashal Khan’s lynching, killings of Ahmedis, forced conversions of Hindus in Interior Sindh and now blasphemy allegations in Hub – a region that has been the most secular part of Pakistan show that intolerance is rampant in the country. It is hard to sense any sense in this policy of the state except the vague idea of national interest. It has been an enigma all through the history of Pakistan to comprehend the concept of national interest. Who determines national interest? And how do its imperatives impact the public policy in Pakistan? It is somewhat understandable that in theodemocracy the components of public policy are rooted in advocacy rather analysis however this framework has done more bad than good for the country. The radicalisation of the Pakistani society seems horribly well done. Will this continue like this or the Pakistani state would ever take the right path? Malik Atif Mahmood Majoka Melbourne Australia Click for detailed story

Apr 282017
 
Mashal Khan murder case: five more suspects arrested

Mardan police on Friday arrested five more suspects in the Mashal Khan murder case, police officials told DawnNews.District Police Officer (DPO) Mardan Dr Mian Saeed said the latest arrests, which include three students and two employees of the university, were made from different districts.The DPO Mardan noted that out of the 49 identified suspects, 47 had been arrested so far. the two suspects who remain at large are believed to be hiding in tribal areas, he added.Investigation teams have been formed for their arrests, while the coordination of political agents in tribal areas has also been sought, Saeed said.The arrests come a day after Mardan's Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Mohammad Alam Shinwari announced the arrest of a member of the lynch mob who had shot Mashal Khan.The DIG said the man arrested was Mashal's classfellow and a student in the university's journalism department. He added that the pistol with which Imran shot Mashal had also been recovered and the suspected had "accepted his crime" during investigation and interrogation. Mashal, 23, a student of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan (AWKUM) was shot and beaten to death by a violent mob on university premises on April 13.Police officials said that he had been accused of running Facebook pages "which allegedly published blasphemous content".Read more: Mardan university student lynched by mob over alleged blasphemy: police Click for detailed story

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