Dr Farooq’s assassination

Death of sanity

The task before us is to take forward Dr Khan’s mission of preaching tolerance

By T Ali

http://www.jang.com.pk/thenews/oct2010-weekly/nos-10-10-2010/pol1.htm#5

Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan’s death has shocked the country, a huge loss for Pakistani society in that he was a source of guidance and a voice against militancy in the country. With his death, the society has lost a passionate campaigner for tolerance and moderation.

As Dr Khan was a vocal critic of suicide attacks, Al Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, militants were naturally prime suspects for his murder. The TTP claimed responsibility for his assassination telling the BBC, “He was killed for criticising us on every forum and for advocating modern Islam.”

Militants, after having been flushed out of some strongholds, seem to have changed their strategy and are now targeting potential personalities who openly opposed and criticised their agenda. The assassination of Dr Farooq seems to be the continuation of this strategy.

Dr Khan and his associates would always say he had no threat from militants. He would laugh and say: “I am a man of letters and arguments. I can be silenced by argument.” Afzal Khan Lala, famous nationalist leader from Swat, says Dr Farooq Khan was a national asset, “Balance, patience, tolerance, respect and love for all were prominent traits of his personality. We Swatis in particular are indebted to him for his untiring efforts in establishing the Swat University. He was also giving psychological treatment to about 100 arrested suicide bombers and young militants here,” he says.

“To Taliban I say by killing noble sons of the soil like Dr Farooq and men of character and knowledge, you are adding to the brain-drain in our society; you are endangering the future of your own children. Change in the system can be brought about by education and peaceful struggle, not by killing people,” Lala says.

Brigadier Mehmood Shah, security analyst and Dr Khan’s close friend, says besides being a good friend, Khan was a highly learned person, “He had both the knowledge and the capability and courage to express it. At a time when very few dared challenge the militants, he defied them, exposed the weaknesses in their stance and interpreted Islam rightly,” he says.

“I hardly see anyone else in the country that has the requisite knowledge of modern and Islamic sciences and the courage and ability to convey his viewpoint like he did. While there are many who believe in what he did, there is none who can categorically and courageously say things he said,” Shah adds.

According to professor Mumtazuddin, his close associate, his personality can be summed up thus: he loved people, knowledge, hard work and reading and writing. Dr Khan had a multifaceted personality. He earned wide acclaim as a psychiatrist, writer, columnist, moderate scholar and intellectual throughout the world. He frequently delivered lectures both in and out of the country.

Khan authored 14 books in Urdu and English. Some of his works include: Pakistan and the 21st Century, Islam and women, Islam and the modern world, Islamic penal code, some discussions, and Muslim community: the way to success. War and Jihad in Islam which has been recently launched argues against private jihad and suicide attacks comprehensively.

Spokesman of Swat University, Nadeem Shah, says the students and entire staff of the university were shocked at his assassination. “The fact the university is functioning well is because of his untiring efforts for the last two years. He had to start from scratch. For about one year he worked as project director without any pay saying until the project succeeded, he won’t claim remuneration, he says, adding, “He had accepted the job despite opposition by his family for he loved the cause of education. He was the happiest man when in June this year the president of Pakistan sanctioned the university. He was to address the join sitting of the students and academia on October 4 but he was martyred on October 2.”

There seems to be a disagreement between federal and provincial governments on whether the Swat University should be named as such. One option is to name it as Dr Farooq Shaheed University, to which all will agree considering the work he has done and the sacrifices he has offered. The vice-chancellors committee of 14 public sector universities in KP has also demanded for the same.

Though he had been associated with Jamat-e-Islami, Tehreek-e-Insaf, and other political parties but he was apolitical these days. He told this writer once that association with a particular party or sect makes one biased, “You cannot be impartial in matters involving your party or opponents. Justice is the ultimate sufferer. Intellectuals should avoid this.”

“Now the task before us is to take forward his mission of presenting religion in its true perspective and creating awareness through education and encouraging dialogue,” says a Peshawar-based educationist wishing anonymity.

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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

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