When I first saw Mashal, he was bundled up in a blanket. The year was 1992. God had given me a beautiful gift, my son, Mashal Khan.
He was extraordinary. We knew, instantly, that he would excel in his studies. He loved reading and writing. He loved learning. When he was young, we would receive report cards about his progress at school. Reading those always made my chest swell with pride.
Then he left for higher studies. My home felt empty.
I last saw Mashal when he was packing his clothes to leave for college again. I don’t remember what he said that day. I don’t remember his words but I do remember the smile on his face. He was happy.
Four days before the mob came for him, he spoke to Khyber News, a local news channel. I am told that the truth became the reason for his death. He complained about the absence of a vice chancellor. Many students could not graduate without the chancellor's signature. He called for a reduction in the college fee. Teachers at the Abdul Wali Khan University were holding more than one designation, taking home two paychecks. They are involved, I am told, in framing him.
Those I trusted would teach my son, killed him.
Muhammad Iqbal Khan, Mashal's father, speaks to reporters.—Photo courtesy: BBCUrdu
On April 13, at 4:00 p.m., I got a call from a relative. There was a fight on campus between students of the journalism department. Mashal had been hurt. I hurriedly called my other son to find out what had happened. An hour later, my son called back, he said, "Yaara, I can’t bring myself to say it. My brother, your son, has been murdered."
Large crowds of students chased Mashal, before someone shot him. Since then, the police have arrested several young men. Have I seen them? No. What good would that do?
I only have one thing to say to the government of my beloved country, there should be justice. I know justice will not bring my Mashal back. Yet, I urge all political parties, for your children’s sake, and mine, let’s become one. Let’s send a loud and clear message.
No one should be scared of going to school.
The other day, my brother called. He said his son had done well in his studies and now he wants to go to college. My brother discouraged him. He told his son, “Don’t go to a university. They kill children there.”
It has been almost a week now. A lot of people have come to condole with me. But no one has come from the government. It doesn’t matter. Even then, the awareness is increasing. I’ve seen it on the TV. I saw it in my own hometown. People are coming out on the streets. They know Mashal was innocent.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, I believe it. My son may never come back, but may his memory live on forever.
—As narrated to Geo.TV by Mashal Khan's father, Muhammad Iqbal Khan