SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 17, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Abdul Wali Khan University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 17, 2023, unidentified men attacked Akhtar Khan Wazir, a professor of political science at Abdul Wali Khan University.

In addition to his work as an academic, Akhtar Khan is active in human rights and publicly comments on politics in Pakistan. In 2019, he was arrested in connection with his social media activity (see report).

During the January 17 incident, Akhtar Khan was leaving a market when, he says, the assailants approached and attacked him with sticks. Akhtar Kahn told Pukhtun Nama that the assailants took out pistols and threatened bystanders who sought to intervene and assist him. He told the same publication that he was unaware of any personal disputes and referred to his public commentary on human rights matters.

As of this report, authorities do not appear to have identified a suspect behind the attack.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by an apparently targeted attack on a scholar. State authorities should take all reasonable steps to prevent and respond to such attacks, including by holding perpetrators accountable, in accordance with international human rights standards. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, violent, targeted attacks on scholars undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.