Mashal Khan was shot dead by a mob after a heated university discussion. But rarely has the country come together behind someone accused of blasphemy
Mashal Khan was never afraid to speak his mind. The 23-year-old journalism student was known for questioning his peers and speaking out against injustice and corruption.
But on 13 April a few days after a heated discussion at his university in Madan in north-western Pakistan Khan was seized from his dorm room by a mob that stripped and beat him, then shot him dead.
Initial reports suggested that Khan had been accused of offending Islam a dangerous charge in a society where perceived disrespect for the religion can ignite violent anger.
Following the lynching, Abdul Wali Khan university initially launched an investigation into Khans alleged blasphemy, rather than the murder. But institutions provost hurriedly reversed course, saying the report had been a clerical error.
The case has sparked uproar in a country where blasphemy laws are often misused for revenge or personal gain.
Protesters gathered across Pakistan, calling for justice. On social media, Khan was treated as a hero. The prime minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the murder although it took him two days. Even the prominent religious leader, Mufti Naeem, called Khan a martyr.