Home News Analysis Pakistani student kills professor: Where does the problem lie?

Pakistani student kills professor: Where does the problem lie?

Academics, experts believe Pakistan needs to revise its education policy to promote free, critical thinking.

News Analysis |

A student in Bahawalpur killed his own professor for allegedly insulting Islam. Khalid Hameed, a professor of English, was allegedly stabbed to death by his own student, Khateeb Hussain, in Bahawalpur’s SE College on Wednesday.

Hussain was in his fifth semester and allegedly killed his professor after having a heated argument with him. He surrendered himself to the police after killing the professor. An FIR has been lodged against him under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

According to local media reports, students of the college said that a “farewell party” was going to be organised in the college on March 21 where male and female students were supposed to perform Jhoomar – a cultural dance on folk music. The attacker believed that this was “un-Islamic.”

Professor Hameed’s son told the local media that he spoke to his father the night before the incident took place about the matter, and he had said that he had nothing to do with the farewell party because the administration was organising it.

Moreover, students at the college described Hussain as a “very good” student. However, that said that they saw a change in him in the last three months. He was not coming to college regularly and was taking classes only two or three days a week.

In a confessional video, the killer maintained that Professor Hameed had “anti-Islamic” views, therefore, he had no remorse. The students contradicted his statement and said that they never saw the professor expressing anti-religious views.

Anonymous Letters

Officials at the college said that the Directorate of Student Affairs received letters from unidentified persons on Tuesday saying that girls were being made to dance in the name of a function, which was tantamount to “promoting vulgarity and Islam doesn’t allow it”.

Read more: Piecing together Pakistan’s education puzzle

“We will not allow promotion of such activities in the college,” the letter said.

Professor Hameed’s son told the local media that he spoke to his father the night before the incident took place about the matter, and he had said that he had nothing to do with the farewell party because the administration was organising it.

Punjab CM Orders Probe

The Government of Punjab tweeted in the afternoon that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had sought a report from the police and ordered an investigation into the incident. He asked authorities to “ensure in every condition provision of justice to the heirs of the deceased professor”.

The son of the slain professor in his talk to the media, however, said that nobody had approached him till that time. “We are not feeling secure right now. We want protection and justice,” he said.

Strong Reactions

The Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif also tweeted and expressed his grief over the killing of the professor. He maintained that this was “a moment of reflection for the entire nation”.

In a press release, the Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association strongly condemned Hameed’s murder. It demanded that the district administration bring the perpetrators of the crime to book under anti-terrorism laws within 10 days. It also asked the district and college administrations to take steps to ensure the safety of the teachers.

Academics and experts believe that Pakistan needs to revise its education policy and get tough on the fight against terrorism. It is believed that for free thinking and creativity a peaceful environment is the first prerequisite.

A social media user said that after inculcating hatred in the minds of young students these incidents should not be a surprise for us all. “Where we install myopic values in the name of cultural education. Where Mumtaz Qadri [is] regard[ed] as a hero. Where Khadim Rizvi has followers. Where government itself use[s] Islam as a tool to protect its interests. Such incidents must not be considered [a] surprise,” the tweet read.

Another Pakistani social media user also condemned the incident and maintained that such incidents were against healthy activities in educational institutes.

“The murder of Professor Khalid Hameed of SE College #Bahawalpur by a student after an argument broke out between them over an annual welcome party is a sad incident, representing a mindset of a segment which is against healthy activities in the educational institutions,” he tweeted.

It is not the first incident of its kind in Pakistan. Prior to this, Mashal Khan, a media studies student at Bacha Khan University, Mardan, and a principal in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) had been killed under the false pre-texts of blasphemy.

Experts believe that “the educated young people in the fields of medicine, hard sciences, engineering, IT, commerce and business studies were found to be associated with radical Islamic groups”.

Read more: Pakistan’s Education: Lack of Critical Thinking?

Prominent academic Dr. Hassan Askari argues, “Universities and colleges are a part of the society that has been transformed under the official policy going back to General Ziaul Haq’s rule, and on its own into a more religiously conservative and appreciative of religious orthodoxy and militancy. The notions of religious activism, if not vigilantism, and militancy enjoy sympathy and support in the society because the young people have been socialised into these values through high school education and other policies of the government in the 1980s and 1990s.

Some courses at the school level were revised in 2005-2006 to partly reverse the trends toward religious orthodoxy and appreciation for militancy. However, this effort and similar subsequent efforts faced resistance from the political far-right and Islamists who describe it a negation of ‘Pakistan ideology’.”

Read more: Changing the academic landscape of Pakistan: Genuine educational leaders needed

Academics and experts believe that Pakistan needs to revise its education policy and get tough on the fight against terrorism. It is believed that for free thinking and creativity a peaceful environment is the first prerequisite.