A medieval brutality, a very cancer of the soul, has permeated this society. Not only has it pervaded the hinterland, it has also spread to places where minds are supposed to be enlightened by knowledge and learning.
Each ghastly detail of Mashal Khan’s murder on Thursday illustrates this chilling fact. The 23-year-old student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan was lynched on campus by a mob of fellow students over allegations of blasphemy.
Video footage of the savagery unleashed upon the young man shows an enraged crowd beating his naked body with sticks, kicking and stoning him while raising religious slogans. Another student was also attacked for the same reason and badly injured; his whereabouts are unknown.
But why should we be surprised at this display of bestiality masquerading as virtue? After all, the road to Mashal Khan’s murder is punctuated with many a landmark pointing to where we are headed: eight people, including a child, burned alive in Gojra in 2009 on allegations of blasphemy; governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer, gunned down by his security guard in 2011 for coming to the defence of a blasphemy accused; lawyer Rashid Rehman, shot dead in May 2014 for defending a blasphemy suspect; brick kiln workers Shama and Shahzad, burned alive by a mob in November 2014 on allegations of blasphemy. And this is but a partial list, even in terms of the lives lost.