Mashal Khan: The Flame That Won’t Extinguish

Two years have passed since that horrific incident occurred on the grounds of Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University.

Two years ago, a 23-year-old student of Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University was lynched by a mob on the allegation of committing blasphemy. Religious fanaticism is on a rampant in Pakistan. Many people have lost their lives due to this extremist mindset but Pakistan was shaken after Mashal Khan, a student was attacked by his own peer for having a difference of opinion.

In honor of his memory and to remind people that universities, schools, and colleges should be a safe space for students and teachers alike where they are able to express their opinions a march was carried out.

The march took place on 13th April, the very day Mashal Khan was dragged from his hostel room to his death on the allegations of committing blasphemy which later proved to be wrong.

The marches were organized in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad by student organizations and civil society. In Karachi, a large number of people gathered outside the press club to show their solidarity and pay their respects to Mashal Khan. They chanted for violence-free education institutions.

Similarly, in Lahore people got together outside the press club and held flaming torches. Apart from students, there were members of trade unions and civil society that highlighted how Mashal had become a symbol of struggle against oppression and brutality.

The only son to Iqbal Khan and Syeda Bibi were part of this march with one motive in mind that they don’t want any other student to face the same fate as their son. They said that they wanted peace and violence-fress educational campuses. The mother told the news how love and support have given her the courage to bear the loss of her only son.

“Mashal (means flaming torch in English) did not get extinguished. It is still alive, spreading the rays of peace and tranquillity in all directions.”

Living true to his name, he has indeed turned into a light against the darkness, the fight against the oppressors and the voice of peace. According to his parents, Mashal was a true believer in non-violence and had always argued against people who manipulated their power and used violence to propagate their ideologies.

His death has become a force of change. A true contender of peace who believed that peaceful struggles never face defeat and will always emerge victoriously.

 “Peace is a mark of strength, and not of weakness,” Iqbal Khan quoting his son’s saying.

His death was an alarming situation as it showed us the true picture of the heights religious fanaticism and extremism has reached in our society. The government needs to take measures to ensure the safety of their student body as well as their faculty.

Recently, the court sentenced two accused to life imprisonment and set two others free.

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