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Islam and Tolerance (28 Apr 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Mashal Khan: A Son from Swabi


By Shahzad Raza

21 Apr 2017




 



Mashal Khan

Her son had promised to come home last Friday and had forewarned that he wanted his favourite food for dinner. He fulfilled his promise. She could not. The dead don’t eat.

Mashal Khan’s mother Gulzar broke her silence a day after his funeral, imploring Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan to give her justice. She understands but cannot speak Urdu. Her elder daughter plays interpreter, often squeezing her hand to draw courage to translate what her mother is saying.

“I can feel him around. The room is filled with his smell,” Gulzar says. She had locked herself in Mashal’s bedroom. “I feel I will soon open my eyes and Mashal will enter and give me a hug.”

The bedroom had two single beds and a three-seater couch. The off-white walls are adorned with the calligraphy of Surah Rahman and the four Quls—the last of the surahs of the Holy Quran renowned for their prayers for protection. The names of Allah and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are prominent among other tapestries.

Mashal’s brother, who asked not to be named, ruminates about Mashal’s knowledge of Sufism and how he used to lament the growing injustice in Pakistani society. Mashal believed the system introduced by the Second Caliph Hazrat Umar (RA) was needed to develop a society based on social justice and equality.

Outside Mashal’s room is a small veranda, filled with female relatives and neighbours. The men, relatives, friends and visitors have gathered in an adjacent house. His father, Muhammad Iqbal, looks tired. He has been accepting condolences from thousands of people.

Though the prime minister, chief minister and inspector-general of police have categorically stated that no evidence has been found to implicate Mashal in a blasphemy case, there are still people who actually believe he did. One of them is a neighbourhood cleric.

A distant relative of Mashal’s mother, Shah Wali, led the funeral prayers. The tragedy and media glare meant that much uncorroborated information about the funeral was making the rounds. Some tweets that went viral were about a man identified as Shireen Yar who was said to have come out with his gun to ostensibly protect Mashal’s family during the funeral

Next to Mashal’s house is a mosque where the prayer leader, Fazle Amir, tried to provoke people and cast doubt over Mashal’s innocence. Background interviews with family and neighbours reveal that Fazle Amir tried to dissuade people from attending the funeral. “We were about 50 people who laid Mashal’s body to rest,” says Mohsin Waqar, a cousin. “Around 300 to 400 people were standing outside like confused spectators.” The cleric who spread hatred is now under investigation.

Mashal was not buried in a graveyard. Instead, he was laid to rest in a small piece of land his father had purchased a couple of years ago to build a house. It was learnt that some people harassed the family and conveyed the message that they would not allow Mashal to be buried in the neighbourhood graveyard.

A distant relative of Mashal’s mother, Shah Wali, led the funeral prayers. The tragedy and media glare meant that much uncorroborated information about the funeral was making the rounds. Some tweets that went viral were about a man identified as Shireen Yar who was said to have come out with his gun to ostensibly protect Mashal’s family during the funeral. Mashal’s brother has, however, refuted such claims. He said no one except for close relatives and friends showed up a night before the funeral. “Not more than 50 people dared carry his bier,” he said.

The lynching took place on the afternoon of April 13. It took several hours for Mashal’s body to reach Swabi from Mardan, a distance less than 50 kilometres. Family members said the body was handed from one police station to another, subject to their jurisdiction. There were fears that miscreants might try to take it. Mashal’s uncle, Muhammad Zubair, and a neighbour were the only two people who accompanied the body from Mardan to Swabi.

Mashal spent his early years in Swabi district, a place which is just an hour-long drive from the federal capital Islamabad. The area was known for the presence of radical elements and extremists. Mashal was doing a Master’s degree in journalism from Mardan’s Abdul Wali Khan University. Founded by the liberal Awami National Party, the university is dominated these days by radical students who eulogise men like Mumtaz Qadri.

At the front gate of the hostel from where Mashal was dragged and lynched is a poster of Mumtaz Qadri. It went up some time before March 2. The poster invites students to attend a conference on Qadri sponsored by the local leadership of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the banned Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat.

Interviews with students and teachers disclosed that Mashal had an inquisitive nature. He used to question wrongdoing. For instance, he raised his voice over the absence of a vice chancellor at the university. He also criticised teachers who were being paid double.

He was a Shahid Afridi cricket fan and played volleyball himself. Friends described him as also being fond of reading. In his free time he would delve into Sufism and world history. “Red was his favourite colour. And whenever we were together he took us to a famous barbeque spot,” recalled one friend.

The family awaits justice as do many Pakistanis. Mashal’s father, who is a poet, plans to write about his son at some point. “I pray no parent experiences what I did. I hope the blood of my son will not go in vain,” he says. “All I have now are the memories. And they will keep me alive until I meet him eventually.”

Source: thefridaytimes.com/tft/a-son-from-swabi/

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-tolerance/shahzad-raza/mashal-khan--a-son-from-swabi/d/110943




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