Mashal Khan lynching case: Senators call for amendments in blasphemy law

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Followed by the heinous murder of Mashal Khan based upon alleged blasphemy accusations; Pakistani Senators have called for amendments in the blasphemy law. Mashal Khan, a journalism student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan was lynched by a vigilante mob of fellow students. Mashal and another student Abdullah, were accused of committing blasphemy by other students from the journalism department.

Blasphemy law in Pakistan

Senators had called for punishments to those who level fabricated blasphemy accusations against others. At the same time the Senators demanded strict action against those who take law into their hands, on the pretext of blasphemy. Senators condemned the lynching of Mashal Khan, as they stressed the need for efficacious steps to curb the rampant misuse of the blasphemy law.

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Senator Farhatullah Babar stated that a religious scholar has already proposed that those who level false blasphemy accusations against others must themselves suffer the same sentence as provided for a blasphemer. “The assassination of Mashal Khan should make us think about concrete measures to prevent the misuse of the blasphemy law; we need to revisit this law,” he stated.

On the other hand, the other student Abdullah in a statement recorded before a judicial magistrate, stated that he was pressurized by university students to say Mashal Khan had committed blasphemy. Abdullah stated that he refused to comply with their demand.

“On April 13, at around 11:00am, one of my friends, namely Muhammad Abbas, called me on my cellular phone and told me to come to the journalism department. Said Abbas was a conspirator,” the statement read.

Upon his call, I proceeded to the journalism department and saw Mudassir Bashir (the class representative), the actual perpetrator, along with other students who there and then, charged me and Mashal Khan with blasphemy and all of them alleged that we have deviated from the right path along with Zubair.” He said that he immediately started reciting the shahadah to prove his innocence.

“After hearing the shahadah from my mouth, forced me to give a deposition that Mashal Khan has committed blasphemy and has evil designs towards the religion of Islam, but I refused as I never ever heard any un-parliamentary, scandalous, or blasphemous words from Mashal’s mouth.”