Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said he was saddened by the mob lynching of a student on the campus of a university in Mardan.
“Let it be known to the perpetrators of this act that the state shall not tolerate citizens taking the law in their own hands,” the prime minister said in a statement released by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
PM Nawaz said law enforcers have been directed to arrest the culprits. The premier asked countrymen to stand united while condemning the heinous crime. “The nation should stand united to condemn this crime and to promote tolerance and rule of law in the society,” he was quoted as saying.
Expressing his grief with the victim’s family, Nawaz said, No father should have to send his child off to be educated, with the fear of having him return in a coffin.
Mashal Khan, a student of Journalism and Mass Communication at the Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU), was shot in the head and chest and then his body desecrated by a mob who accused him of committing blasphemy. The video of the gruesome violence made via mobile phone cameras shows Mashal’s disrobed body – covered in blood – being dragged, first in a hallway and then on a road of the campus.
‘Epitome of violence’
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that lynching of a student in Mardan crossed all limits of violence.
“Mashal Khan’s lynching in Mardan reached the epitome of violence and brutality, that too in the name of Islam,” Nisar said while addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Saturday.
He stressed that Islam does not even allow mild injustice with a non-Muslim, let alone such violence [inflicted to a fellow Muslim].
The minister hailed the initiative of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to call for judicial inquiry in the matter, saying he was looking towards the report of the probe.
Regarding Dawn leaks, the minister said a report will be available with the ministry within two to three days.
“The report regarding Dawn leaks will be available with the ministry of interior within two to three days and will then be submitted to the prime minister,” he said.
Mardan university student accused of blasphemy beaten to death on campus
On a question about jailed Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, Nisar said spies are not provided with counsellor access, saying such an access should be reciprocal. “Many Pakistanis, jailed in India over petty issues, are not being granted consular access,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz also took to Twitter and condemned the incident and said mob justice is indicative of regressive mindset.
UN expresses grief over Mashal’s lynching
United Nations in Pakistan condemned the mob lynching of Mashal and expressed sorrow at the deplorable incident.
“We are especially saddened this happened in place of education done by young people who were his fellow students,” a statement released by the UN office in the country read.
The international organisation said Pakistan has strong legal institutions and that it was unacceptable for anyone to take the law into their own hands.
“Our thoughts today remain with the student victims and their families. We urge the authorities to take firm action and bring the perpetuators to speedy justice,” UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan Neil Buhne was quoted as saying.
The incident drew widespread condemnation with PTI Chairman Imran Khan pledging ‘firm action’ against the culprits and assuring that the “law of the jungle can’t prevail”. The issue was also raised in the K-P Assembly with opposition lawmakers expressing concern over the incident.
Speaking on the floor of the house, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak condemned the killing as ‘barbaric’ and ‘brutal’ and announced an independent judicial inquiry into it. “We have yet not found any blasphemous material in the case,” he told the lawmakers.
A senior police officer overseeing the inquiry told The Express Tribune that there were no traces of any blasphemous content on either in the victims’ cell phone or his social media account. “After a thorough analysis of the footage available, we identified 20 people,” he added. “Nine of whom are already in our custody,” he said, adding that they were being investigated.