HRCP calls for steps to prevent vigilantes

  • Rights body asks people to speak out against barbarism
  • Mufti Usmani says no one has right to kill a ‘blasphemer’

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave alarm over a student’s lynching by a mob at the Abdul Wali Khan University (AWKU) in Mardan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It has urged effective steps to bring all those involved to justice and to tackle the panic and horror among citizens, especially students and the academia, in the aftermath of the barbaric murder. “The brutal killing of the young student in Mardan, and serious injuries to another, offers evidence, although none was needed, of what a blood-thirsty society we have become,” the commission said in a statement issued on Friday.

“It shows how easily the name of religion can be invoked, however unfounded that might be, to kill with abandon. More than anything else, it shows that the state’s resolve to protect citizens from senseless violence consistently falls far short of the resolve of those using the name of the religion to massacre human beings. This deserves condemnation beyond words,” it said.

The HRCP is greatly saddened that such hair-raising brutality unfolded in a place of higher learning, where students are expected to be tolerant of others’ views. “For that is what makes a free exchange of ideas possible. The state’s abject failure to protect Mashal Khan’s right to life has created great panic and horror among students and academia. Unless all those who played any part in Mashal’s brutal murder are brought to justice, such barbarity will only spread.”

The right body said that the malaise that manifested itself in Mardan would not vanish with brief shuttering of the university. “All those who believe in positive human values must speak out and suggest ways to prevent vigilantes causing mayhem by using the name of religion. Staying quiet in the face of such barbarism will condemn us all as accomplices.”

Reacting to the shocking killing of a journalism student, Islamic scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani said that no individual has the right to kill anyone in the name of blasphemy. “It is the state’s responsibility to award punishment to a blasphemer. We must know that blasphemy is a sensitive issue and needs solid evidence,” he said.

He also said that Pakistan has blasphemy laws to deal with such cases and nobody has the right to take them into their hands. “Legislation and implementation of laws are the sole responsibility of the state,” he said. Muft’s comments came hours after hundreds of students beat to death a classmate known for his liberal views on a university campus in Mardan.