In Pakistan, death has become synonymous with martyrdom. Every soldier, every police officer, every political activist and every religious cleric dead is a ‘shaheed’ in some way. According to Maulana Fazal ur Rehman, the scope of martyrdom might even extend to dogs given the special circumstances. Think you are an exception? By no means! When you will die, you’re supposed to be called a martyr in your own small way, be your expiry has an accidental, incidental or medical basis.
But the recent martyrdom classification of JI chief Munawar Hasan is a bit too complex. It does more than provoke a debate. According to an ISPR release, Hasan’s stance on martyrdom is unnecessarily narrowed to some of army’s formerly good guys (Taliban). It is nothing more than an agenda on which its political ideology is set. In fact, the views of Jamaat speak of its never popular fascist agendas like before. But this time, the fuss is about excluding soldiers killed in War on Terror on the basis of supporting infidels, or Amreekees!
JI and ISPR fail to acknowledge that we used the same shrouds for bodies of Mujaheedeens (Taliban plus Army) in the past. Pakistan was not a divided nation when we were fighting the ‘infidel’ Russia in the proxy war of 1980s. Nobody ever dared to draw distinction between the good guys/bad guys until this recent global war on terror began. In case we’ve forgotten that, Pakistan’s participation on this war was not a choice but an admonition of pathar ka daur by hot-headed United States in early 2000s. According to popular assumptions, Pakistan had to save some 120 million potential shaheeds by leveraging its military men.
I will not get into the big details of what separates a shaheed from a terrorist. Pakistan calls Kashmiri freedom fighters as Shaheed, while the same are referred to as Pakistani insurgents in India. The army lost a number of men trying to do away with Bengali insurgents back in the Dhaka fall, and called them shaheed in the same way as Bangladesh honored their freedom fighters on the other side. And there is a great lot of martyrs in recent times including Bhuttos, Bugti, Salman Taseer, Ghazi Rasheed and Amir Farooq.
Although a conflict-oriented statement, JI chief’s shaheed-halaak distinction of martyrs renders thought-provoking question for the present time: Are we clear of what makes a martyr and what makes a terrorist? Once we have got that consensus definition, only then will we able to distinguish Shaheed from $haheed!
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