Munawar Hassan, our fallen soldiers and citizens ARE martyrs

Published: November 12, 2013

The father of a man killed in an overnight bombing in Nowshera grieves before his son’s funeral in northwest Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

Some time ago a small, market town in England called Wootten Bassett attracted national and international media attention. The town was granted Royal Patronage and even US President Obama appreciated their actions.

The people of Watton Basset showed honour and respect to their dead soldiers, who were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whenever the bodies of British troops were brought to an air force base and they passed through this town, the townsfolk showed their respect with spontaneous gestures; businesses stopped, passersby lined the pavements, taking off their hats and standing in silence.

The honouring of the fallen soldiers by the people of Wootten Bassett touched a nation, which was otherwise bitterly polarised on the question of participation in the War on Terror.

Now let’s rewind the reel and see what’s happening in Pakistan.

According to many media reports, around 50,000 people, including 3,000 security personnel, have lost their lives in raging militancy. Most have either died fighting militants or have become unfortunate victims of thousands of senseless and brutal terror attacks.

In this post, I will describe brief stories of victims of terror attacks – undoubtedly, the victims’ hopes and aspirations were aborted, but the lives of their family members have been transformed forever, as well.

Faiq, the Naval Officer from a village near Khanewal

Faiq was killed in the militant attack on the Mehran Naval Base. At the time of his death, his son was only a few months old. He is now growing up on second-hand memory of his father, as dredged up from the family photos by his mother and grandparents.

Indeed a sad reality: sons need living fathers to play with and seek guidance, and not larger-than-life figures, artificially resurrected from death by adults.

Ayesha, the steno-typist from my office

Ayesha lost her brother in a bomb blast near the Naval War College; he was not an employee at the War College, but was riding past it on a motorcycle, and met an instant death after being hit by bomb shrapnel. No doubt, death is an impenetrable reality; all of us have to die, but an unnatural death, more so, a brutal death knocking down a young person, can traumatise the immediate family. And so it did.

“Not a single day passes by,” says Ayesha, “when my mother doesn’t recall to life her slain son, and it appears that, some supernatural force pushes her, to rake the embers of memories – some bring smile to her face but, at times, she weeps uncontrollably.”

Faiz, a senior police officer posted in Quetta

Faiz lost his life while trying to nab a bomber, who managed to detonate his suicide vest during a funeral prayer of a slain police officer.

At the time of the bomb blast, Faiz’s family – a wife and two, little children – was visiting him in Quetta to celebrate Eid. Rather than spending Eid with their father, the kids brought back their dad’s dead body for his burial in his hometown.

The brutal killing of innocent civilians and security personnel trigger a number of moral questions.

Shouldn’t a society respect its fallen soldiers and honour their sacrifices?

Don’t victims of violence deserve abiding sympathy of society?

When political leaders themselves refuse to acknowledge that slain soldiers and policemen are martyrs, then how can a society discharge the moral obligation of paying them respects?

As I see, members of society, who understand that it’s a just war, need to weave a narrative against the radical fundamentalist view of history and war. Let’s not forget that Maulana Munawar Hassan’s comments on martyrdom of soldiers have not been made in isolation, but are connected with Jamaat-e-Islami’s overall view of history – based on notions of Muslim victimhood and imperial wars of the West.

Unless we challenge that view, society as a whole will not come out of the closet to acknowledge that the state of Pakistan is fighting a just war.

Do you think Munawar Hasan should apologise for his statement on martyrdom?

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Sameera Rashid

Sameera Rashid

A research analyst, blogger and a graduate of King's College, London, in public policy.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Raza

    One who fights as a partner to kaafirs are not shaheeds…MH gave a perfect example in his interview…. we just have to clean our eye glasses to clearly understand the whole picture!Recommend

  • Liberal

    We are mixing things up here:

    1. The JI chief’s remarks were more of a generalised equation: If American soldiers cannot be labeled as martyrs, so shouldn’t their backers.

    2. Pakistan’s situation is different. The state is under attack – an Islamic state – and its army is battling the enemy. Therefore, our soldiers, who lay down their lives in the process of defending their motherland and their Muslim brethren, are martyrs.

    It’s important that personal opinions are not mixed up with national causes. It might make for a good headline, but has damaging and demoralising effects otherwise.Recommend

  • 007

    As a man in uniform, I feel hurt at this statement by Munawwar Hassan. I feel hurt for myself, I feel hurt for my men, and I feel hurt for all the martyrs. We live and are willing to die for our motherland, and people like Munawwar Hassan are cowards who have no morality.Recommend

  • Pappu

    Who is Munawar Hassan to decide who is shaheed and who is not. ISPR shoudn’t have reacted to his statement. Also keep in mind army and JI have a close relationship throughout the history of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    How can people like Munawar Hassan understand this?Recommend

  • Satesh Kumar

    I doubt the people who voted “NO” as answer for the question above…!!Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    Please go to another country then. We don’t need people like you, who support terrorists, disgrace our true martyrs and were against the creation of Pakistan in the first place! And I think you are forgetting about the millions of non-Muslims in this country who are WAY MORE PATRIOTIC, than ‘Muslims’ like you.Recommend

  • SeeThis!

    I just read this from someone post and it make absolute sense:

    First we have to see this issue correctly. A Muslim person to fight against an Islamic State is a crime. Killing men of Muslim army and innocent Muslims in thousands is not a heavenly desirable deed by any Islamic teaching. Now this same criminal muslim is killed in an encounter with non-Muslim forces could become a myrtar.

    Had he been killed by Muslim army he was just a criminal. Now we know past Caliphs and recently Saudi Arabia has used non-Muslim forces to take-out anti govt elements. Now when killed upon a Muslim Govt order these anti-state forces can not claim Shahada because the Muslim state is representing and protecting innocent muslims.Recommend

  • MAC

    As a man in uniform please accept our gratitude, affection and respect as you so very well deserve. Please rest assured that Munawar Hassan does not represent sentiments of a grateful nation.

    Please keep in mind he belongs to the group of people whose leader never accepted the creation of Pakistan. They are also the other face of our enemy. The enemy within, which at an appropriate time will have to be eliminated if we want our homeland to prosper and flourish. Only that will be a befitting honor to your fellows in uniform who sacrificed their lives so we can live in peace and harmony. Inshallah their sacrifice will not go in vein.Recommend

  • 123xyz

    muslim extremists like jamat i islami are on nobodies side. your army used them to islamise pakistan and create hatred against US in people’s mind.
    now fearing the TTP attack they have turned against the army.

    chicken are coming home to roost.Recommend

  • raj

    the problem is people follow this guy who himself does not know Islam properly otherwise Fazl should be charged with some kind of blasphemy on calling a dog shaheed though shaheed is used mainly for muslimsRecommend

  • raj

    so what would you call fazal ur rehman on calling a dog ‘shaheed’. if shaheed is used only for momin (muslims according to u) then Mr rehman should be charged with blashphemy for calling an animal shaheed. Mr Raza, open you eyes and think who are we to call someone kaafir. a guy has killed 50,000 people for no reason is called shaheed. its a shame on pakistanis that people like MH are here and shame to those who follow him.Recommend

  • hashim

    Loyal pakistanis say no to americas war.Recommend

  • Naveen

    This was bound to happen some day. On one hand, Pakistan Army would like to showcase itself as this great Islamic Army and on another it is a core military ally of West. The two things just do not fit together.

    I wonder why this point was not raised earlier – say, When Pakistan became a party to Baghdad Pact, SEATO etc- all of them clubs of regional puppets of West.Recommend

  • Vikram

    Pakistanis refused to take dead bodies of Pakistani soldiers who died in Kargil. Pakistan has always supported terrorists who go and kill Indians and Afghans. ISI considers terrorists as martyrs.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Like the clear style in which you expressed your view point.
    Munawar Hassan is an extremely intelligent man, he has poked the government / establishment in the eye, in order to test the waters or to deliberately provoke. Either way a fitting response is necessary because when you glorify a criminal murderer…….your intentions are anything but honourable.
    My personal view is that seeing the utter apathy of our leaders, Munawar Hassan will soon become yesterdays story and forgotten…… the country’s detriment.Recommend

  • zab

    No one is a martyr according to Islam , both set of Muslims (so called moderates and extremists) fighting against each other will go to hell.

    Abu Bakrah ath-Thaqafi (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported – The Prophet said “If two Muslims meet each other with their swords, then both the killer and the killed will be in the Hell-fire.” I said, “O Allāh’s Messenger, that is the case for the killer but why should that be the case for the killed?” He answered, “Because he wanted to kill his companion.” [Bukhāri & Muslim]Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    life is not fair, get used to of it

    Bill GatesRecommend

  • Mohammed Abbasi

    when did Muslims start worshipping the Mullahs and the Taliban instead of worshipping Allah?Recommend

  • Falcon

    The assumption you and MH are building upon is this: A murderer of thousands (as long as he is a Muslim) is better than a non-Muslim soldier and therefore a martyr when killed by a non-Muslim. This is the most twisted definition of a martyr I have heard so far and inconsistent with every religious teaching I know of.Recommend

  • Omer

    Well about those innocent Pashtun tribals who are killed by bombing of PAF Fighter jets and indiscriminare army action are they martyrs?

    No they are not because they dont have any one to blog about them, and the people who kill those innocent men women and children are the greatest martyrs in the history like our slain armymen in Bangladesh,.

    Civillians who lose there lives are a different case than the security forces who are involved in a massacre in the tribals region.

    Nobody is defending the taliban but what Pak army is doing to Pashtuns and Baloch is simply revolting.Recommend

  • Bee

    get this through that bigotted skull of yours… THIS IS PAKISTAN’S WAR.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    No need to beg this man to get a Shahadat certificate from him. He is most disgusting, rude and unpopular person in entire country. JI is most hated party which is lead by liars. When such people and parties call someone a Shaheed, majority doubt it. Thankfully they don’t call our brave soldiers Shaheed, otherwise no one would accept their sacrifices.Recommend

  • John

    Its men in uniform who are feeding these
    snakes to begin with so accept the responsibility for it too. In a few days relations
    between these religion parties and men in uniform would be back to normal.Recommend

  • John

    But JI itself fought in partnership with kafir US before. What about that?Recommend

  • Sane

    What do you consider those Muslims who were massacred by Hindus?Recommend

  • Faryal

    How can people vote ‘no’ in this country. It says a lot about the state of things.Recommend

  • AAK

    Let TTP kill the sons of Mumawwar Hassan and Maulana Diesel then they’ii know who is martyr and who is not!!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nice…… woul be a bit of an eye opener if someone could list where and in which country the children of the leaders of the JI and JUI-F are presently residing.Recommend

  • Anooop

    Lets thank God that its so uncommon.

    Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc Muslims are killing Muslims, much more than what you stated.

    Between India and Pakistan, Muslims are safest in India, definitely.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    It is not just America’s war. It is our war as well. Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    A martyr of Pakistan can be any patriotic Pakistan, of any religion or lack of religion who has done something substantial in the service of Pakistan. And to me, a Atheist or Hindu of Pakistan would be FAR more important than a Muslim of Saudi Arabia.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    Mr. 007, thank you for your service. My grandfather also served in the Armed Forces. He loved this Nation so much, he was willing to give up his life for it if he had to. I agree with MAC. Munawar Hassan does not represent the sentiments of all Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    This I can agree with. I hate what some of our security agencies are doing to innocent people, and it was disgraceful what we did in Bangladesh in 1971, but those who died fighting against the Taliban terrorists ARE martyrs.Recommend

  • whitesky

    question by a soldier- why should I sacrifice my life fighting likes of Hakimullah Mehsud ( the person responsible ofr the killing of 40000 innocent Paksitanis) when i won’t be treated as martyr in Pakistan ?Recommend

  • GV

    He is learnt his islam from the countries madrasas sponsored by the army. He should not have been brainwashed for jihad, so now he only understands what he learnt.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    JI is not entirely wrong. Its just a different Point of View. it all boils down to whether you consider Nation over Faith or vice versa.
    For those who see Faith over Nationhood, TTP is fighting to establish islamic rule and Shariah over Pakistan, whereas the Pakistani army is collaborating with Infidels to deny this. Hence TTP are Martyrs while soldiers are committing a great sin by collaborating with Infidels from Dar-ul Harb USA. The people who died in bomb blasts are collateral damage in the fight for a greater cause of Islam. There is no concept of Nation in Islam, its either Dar ul harb, Dar ul Islam, Dar ul Amn etc
    While for those who view Nationhood over Religion, TTP is a terrorist organisation which is trying to take over Pakistan.
    It all matters which prism you look through, Religious Prism or Prism of NationhoodRecommend

  • 0007

    As a man in uniform, do you believe in the day of judgment? Do you believe in nationalism? Giving foreign army military bases in your own country, killing your muslim brothers in Aghanistan and north waziristan even though they had friendly terms pre 9/11. Who is going to answer for all this? The army kills their family and children and we expect them to stay quite?Recommend

  • Vikram

    Indians Muslims and non-Muslims played a very significant role in British armed forces. Munawar Hassan is a part of Pakistani army without uniform.

  • basit

    well saidRecommend

  • 007

    Thank you for making me know that Munawwar Hassan does have supporters!Recommend

  • 007

    Thanks for your words of support – they mean a lot to us. Having said this, let me clarify one thing. Munawwar Hassan’s views hurt us, but they do not affect our resilience & determination to serve our dear motherland till the last drop of blood. Pakistan Zindabad.Recommend

  • Talha

    Astonishing that 35 percent said No.Recommend