The lynching of Mashal Khan was an incident that shook the country’s moral compass at its core. Pakistan changed forever the day the 23-year-old student from Abdul Wali Khan University was killed by vigilante student forces. For those who might have lost faith in goodness after this tragedy, there is still something redeemable. Rarely are vigilante false accusers of blasphemy given due punishment for inciting murder, but in this case, it seems that they might just be brought to task. A Peshawar Anti-Terrorism Court is due to give its decision on the 16th March against four persons accused of inciting murder and causing the lynching of Mashal Khan.

The accused were arrested last year after being on the run since the lynching incident occurred. According to prosecution, the four accused in question had played a key role in the lynching of Mr Mashal. It is pertinent to note that some of the accused were not students at the university, which makes their presence at the time of the crime more suspicious. It must also be considered that some of the accused proudly owned up to the murder in certain rallies, yet are denying so vehemently before the court now. While it is up to the court to give the verdict, the facts point to the accused having a major part to play in this pre-planned lynching.

Even if this particular case is focused on only four of the accused, whatever the court decides will have a monumental effect on the many criminal convictions related to the Mashal Khan murder that are still pending. In February of 2018, the court, while convicting 31 accused, acquitted 23 people, against whom several appeals are pending in the High Courts. A solid verdict by the court against the accused on the 16th would send a strong message on how strictly the courts punish vigilante mob behaviour.