Lynched Pakistani student 'did not commit blasphemy'

In this file photo, members of a Pakistani civil society demonstrate against the killing of Mashal Khan, a student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in the northwestern city of Mardan, in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP)
Updated 06 June 2017

Lynched Pakistani student 'did not commit blasphemy'

PESHAWAR: An outspoken Pakistani student killed by a lynch mob was falsely accused of blasphemy, according to an official report that added his murder was organized by faculty members and rival students.
Mashal Khan, 23, was stripped, beaten and shot before being thrown from the second floor of his hostel at the Abdul Wali Khan university in northwest Mardan in April.
The killing led to a national outcry after a video of it went viral.
The country’s top court ordered the formation of a joint investigation team compromising police and intelligence agencies, which is set to submit its findings this week.
“No direct or indirect evidence supporting blasphemy allegations against Mashal Khan (or his friends) Abdullah and Zubair was received,” the 308-page report, a copy of which was seen by AFP, said.
It added the killing was instigated by members of Khan’s Pakhtun Students Federation, who felt threatened by his growing prominence as a critic of rising fees and alleged corruption at the university, as well as the institution’s staff.
Mashal’s father, Mohammed Iqbal, said on Monday that the findings had vindicated his son.
“This proves my son was not a blasphmer,” he said, calling for the suspects to be tried by a military court.


3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

Updated 28 February 2020

3,000-strong African force planned against Sahel extremism

  • The force would be a significant new player in the Sahel where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year
  • The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: African leaders have decided to work on deploying 3,000 troops to West Africa’s troubled Sahel region as extremist attacks surge, an African Union official said Thursday.
The force would be a significant new player in the sprawling, arid region south of the Sahara Desert where fighters linked to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group killed thousands of people last year — at times working together in an unprecedented move.
The decision by African leaders comes as the United States considers cutting its military presence in Africa while urging African solutions to African problems. That has sparked pressure from worried security allies including France and regional countries as well as a rare bipartisan outcry among lawmakers in Washington.
Smail Chergui, the African Union commissioner for peace and security, relayed the new troop decision that was taken at the recent AU summit during a meeting Thursday with visiting European Union officials.
The AU continental body is expected to work with the West African regional counterterror force G5 Sahel as well as the West African regional body ECOWAS, which has formed peacekeeping units in the past, Chergui said.
ECOWAS in September announced what Chergui called a “very bold” plan to counter extremism in the region, including mobilizing up to $1 billion through 2024.
“As you see and recognize yourself, the threat is expanding and becoming more complex,” Chergui said. “Terrorists are now even bringing a new modus operandi from Afghanistan and Al-Shabab” in Somalia.
It was not immediately clear what the next steps would be in forming the AU force for the Sahel, which has become the most active region in Africa for extremist attacks.
The force would join France’s largest overseas military operation, the 5,100-strong Barkhane, and the 15,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, one of the hardest-hit countries in the attacks along with Burkina Faso and Niger.