People who speak against our own country & question the democratic rights after making anti-national comments exist only in India. In a country like Pakistan, forget making anti-national comments, people are not even allowed to speak their mind. Mashal Khan, a 23 year old Journalism student from Pakistan was hacked to death for posting blasphemous content on Facebook.

Khan was attacked by a mob of over 3000 people who dragged him out of room & beat him to death. Mashal Khan belonged to a family of humble origins. His father was a labourer who also had keen interests in poetry. Iqbal Shayar, Mashal’s father had always encouraged his son to ask rational questions. A land of Islamic fanatics failed his son.

Khan’s father could not support his son’s education and was supported by other relatives in fulfilling the educational needs. Khan was brilliant academically, securing a scholarship to the Institute of Computer & Management Sciences, the largest private college in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Mashal, topped the college in Fsc (a common pre-engineering course in Pakistan).

Khan had also won a scholarship to an engineering college in Moscow, Russia. He could have easily gained better prospects, had he stayed back there after completing his engineering. His parents could have been treated to a better life. But, Rashid chose to come back to his homeland. He had plans of serving the country. But in order to succeed in Pakistan, you need to have plans of making bombs & destroying civilisations.

On his return to Pakistan, Khan joined Abdul Wali Khan College in Mardan to pursue his masters in Mass Media & Journalism. His father was struggling to make the ends meet, but he continued to support his son. Khan was working even harder to realise his father’s dream. His family had invested their hopes in Mashal, and he was not going to let them down.

Mashal had told his mother that he would make his father proud one day. Little did they know that their son’s rational approach would end his life? More than 3000 people had attacked him, but there were not even 20, attending his funeral. The cleric was not ready to read the last rites at the local mosque in Swabi, Khan’s home town.

Swabi is located 60 km south of Mardan. Mashal’s father said that baseless allegations were made on his son. His mother cannot be consoled after losing the ‘gem.’ After the imam backed out to read the last rites, a technician came forward to do so. However, the technician was also later confronted by fanatics. Religious extremism is the hard fact of Pakistan.

The university room where Khan was attacked had posters of Che Guevara and Karl Marx. There were scribbled quotes. One particular quote read: “Be curious, crazy and mad.” Mashal, should have known that in Pakistan it is: “Be radical, fanatic & brutal.” Facebook has memorialised Mashal Khan’s account. His Facebook account will now be a place for friends & family to recollect and share Mashal’s memories.


Tony Joseph