Mashal lives on



While the country remains in the grip of bigotry and violence in the name of twisted interpretations of religion, it was heartening to see big gatherings taking place across Pakistan by students and civil society organisationsto mark Mashal Khan’s second death anniversary on April 13.Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore and Islamabad saw the biggest turnouts.

It is also a good sign that in less than two years the trial has been completed and the family looks satisfied with the court’s verdict.

A mob comprising mostly university students killed Mashalon the premises on April 13, 2017, on false blasphemy charges.Later, independent investigationsabsolvedMashal of all the charges, concluding that his murder was a result of a planned conspiracy.

Mashal’sparents, who kept their poise despite losing a gem of a son in Mashaladdressing a gathering on the occasion said all the right things and we would do well to heed what they had to say.

Iqbal Khan said that campuses should be free of all kinds of violence so that students could focus on their studies.Iqbal Khan said only education could pave the way for progress and development in the country.

The campuses also need peace so that teachers could focus on their job which has not been the case in recent years. Just last month a teacher of the English literature in a Bahawalpur college was stabbed to death by a student on flimsy charges. Another teacher from the same area is in jail for the last many years on similar charges.

The apex court lately issued its verdict in Asia Bibi case which was hailed by most in and out of the country. It is unfortunate that Bibi despite being cleared of all charges still was unable to move of her own free will. The prime minister in his interview with a foreign media said there are some issues that hinder her formal departure from the country.

How you respond to a certain situation determines a society’s values and ethos. We have observed it lately in New Zealand in the aftermath of mass killings in a Christchurch mosque. Pakistan’s executive and judiciary both have set a good precedent in Mashal’s case. There is a need to build on it to defeat the dark forces of hate and bigotry for good.