Mashal Khan: Who to blame for?

mk1Despite the tall claim from the government and state functionaries of eradicating the extremism and terrorism, yet the reality is totally in contrast. The recent horrifying lynching of Mashal Khan, by the mob of university students of AWKUM (Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan) is speaking volumes of the growing extremism in our society. But who to blame for; Mullah, establishment, Pashtuns or the US imperialistic policies.

There are four groups in this regard. One blames it on western Neo-Imperialism, particularly US. The second group puts the responsibility on the religious seminaries and clerics. The third group is putting all the blame on the Pashtuns. However, the fourth group made establishment responsible for the radicalization of society and primarily Pashtuns.

The first group is right to an extent. The project of mujahedin has been stoked by the imperialist powers, but they were not the pioneers in Pakistan and its environs. The Mujahidin (sic) were used prior to the Afghan ‘Saur Revolution’ against India in Kashmir. Furthermore, the same religious zealots were used against the King Amanullah in Afghanistan by the Britishers for their colonial designs. Therefore, it is a misconception among the common folks that US is solely responsible for the rise in militancy and extremism in our part of the world.

The second group has a point while saying that they are creating hell here in their desire of paradise. The seminaries have provided recruits to the militant organizations and the role of Mullah can’t be undermined in the project of Jihad (Read-Fasad) in Afghanistan. However, they are not the sole culprits. The training, weaponry and the introduction of radicalization to the religious seminaries have been initiated by someone else to perpetuate their ulterior motives. The students of the religious seminaries are innocent youth who are being radicalized through the fund and support of those culprits. The Mashal Khan lynching was done by the university students rather than the students of the seminaries, which makes the claim even weaker.

The third group has put all the blame on Pashtuns. They say that they are prone to violence; therefore, they are responsible for all the mess. This notion is utterly flawed. The state is perpetuating this notion insofar as to acquit itself from all the blame. State is just like a father. It has to protect its subjects from harms and dangers. Moreover, state like a father will direct its citizens to the right course, so that peace must prevail.

The writ and the power of the state has been witnessed when the area comprised of more than one million people were evacuated within three days ultimatum, but the handful terrorists and extremist are not in its outreach. Moreover, if state can create jingoism in its citizens through its media and education, then why not tolerance and pluralism; it means that there are some elements in the state that are not sincere with the eradication of extremism. To blame Pashtuns solely for the extremism, while the environment has been set from somewhere else, is utterly absurd and biased even.

The fourth group has pointed toward the establishment. They claim that establishment has earlier used Anti-Indian feelings to pursue their agendas in Kashmir, and Anti-USSR feelings to counter Indian influence in Afghanistan. Now they are using Anti-American and Anti-Afghan sentiments to further its colonial designs. Consequently, the intolerance and extremism is deliberately left unbridled.

These four groups are quite logical in their approaches. However, if we observe the case of the Mashal Khan, who was accused of the blasphemous content and prey to the mobocracy, then we can reach at any conclusion. It is not a question whether he has committed blasphemy or not, the question is how university undergraduates and graduates turned into beasts and shot him, striped him, thrown from the second floor of the hostel and then desecrate his corpse with sticks, bricks and flower vases.

To me the university graduates were nothing but the guns, in which the bullets were loaded through an apparatus. The spur of the moment worked as trigger, and the trigger was set by someone else, consequently resulted into inhumanity. Mashal Khan has not been killed by the youth of the university, but the killers are somewhere else. They were just like the weapons, but the fingers that were triggering them, were the government and state. The government and state is responsible for his lynching.

How many leaders and state functionaries have attended his funeral? Neither nationalists nor religious parties were there to give a symbolic gesture that challenges the mindset of extremism. If they are not standing with Mashal (Light), then they are acquiescing the extremism (darkness).

By Noman Wazir

The writer is a socio-political analyst from FATA. He can be reached at



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