Originally appeared in The National.
The last known person to see Ajmal Khan, the vice-chancellor of Islamia College University, was a newspaper hawker a block away from Khan’s home. The scene the man witnessed was a familiar one in Peshawar. Around nine in the morning on September 7, 2010, Khan left his house in a late-model Toyota. His driveway’s iron gates, decorated with ornamental metal grape-leaves, had barely closed when a white car cut him off. The hawker watched as assailants commandeered the car, shoved the chauffeur aside and sandwiched Khan between them in the back seat before driving off. The hawker then walked to the Khan’s gate, knocked, and informed the family: “Ajmal Khan has been kidnapped.”