Ammar Rashid in Dawn:
Much has been said about what the lynching of Mashal Khan revealed about Pakistani society – from the brutal consequences of mob hysteria to the degree to which fanaticism has seeped into the social fabric.
That the tragedy took place in a university, however, spoke to another process that has helped bring the country to its current impasse – the political and ideological brutalisation of its students by the state.
The on-campus lynching of a student by a mob of his peers solely on the basis of his progressive ideas was chilling to all who witnessed it; yet it was also simply the logical culmination of a decades-old state project to neutralise the potential of student politics for resistance and dissent in Pakistan.
This project has largely been successful. Today, with the exception of a few campuses, the Pakistani university is not a space of freedom for learning, ideological debate or critical thinking, but one of apathy, ideological conformity, and moral conservatism, often enforced through a nexus between the state, university administrations and unelected right-wing student groups.