PM urges nation to unite against Mardan lynching

* Nawaz slams senseless display of murderous mob violence * Interior minister condemns ‘blatant murder’, says associating it with religion is unfortunate

PM urges nation to unite against Mardan lynching

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday issued a strong-worded condemnation of the lynching of a university student in Mardan over allegations of blasphemy and said that the nation should stand united to condemn this crime and to promote tolerance and rule of law in society.

"I am shocked and saddened by the senseless display of mob justice that resulted in the murder of a young student, Mashal Khan, at Wali Khan University, Mardan," the premier said, adding that the state would never tolerate those who take the law in their own hands. "No father should have to send his child off to be educated with the fear of having him returned in a coffin." He also ordered action against those found involved in the incident.

The premier's condemnation came two days after the episode. Before the premier, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had condemned the murder on micro-blogging website Twitter.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan expressed disappointment over the "cold-blooded murder" of Mashal Khan, saying it was "unfortunate that people who are behind [his murder] are associating religion" with the act.

Terming it as a "blatant murder", the interior minister said at a press conference in Islamabad that even if the accusations against someone were true, there was a process to pursue the case.

"Islam is a model; it has a framework of justice," Nisar said, adding that the religion did not "permit" any maltreatment of a "non-Muslim" or "even an atheist".

"I think the provincial government has taken the right decision to call a judicial enquiry," the interior minister said, adding that it was an appropriate way to go about it.