In this news report on the front page in today's Dawn, the late TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud has been erroneously described as the “ruthless PTI leader”. We apologise for the inadvertent mistake. — Editor
ISLAMABAD: Jamaat-i-Islami chief Munawar Hassan’s controversial statements giving the certificate of martyrdom to Hakeemullah Mehsud, the ruthless TTP leader killed in a US drone attack, and deriding military personnel who have rendered sacrifices in the war against terrorists, has drawn strong ire of the army which has asked him to tender an unconditional apology.
In a rare reaction to remarks made by the chief of a political party, the army asked, the Jamaat, once trusted ally in the Afghan war, to clarify its position.
The JI amir’s statement was condemned also by almost all political parties and non-political circles in the country and some of them even termed Mr Hassan a ‘traitor’ and demanded his trial.
“The people whose loved ones have laid down their lives while fighting terrorists and families of Shuhada (martyrs) of the armed forces demand an unconditional apology from Syed Munawar Hassan for hurting their feelings. It is also expected that Jamaat-i-Islami should clearly state its position on the subject,” a spokesman for the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement issued on Sunday.
The ISPR spokesman said: “These were irresponsible and misleading remarks by Syed Munawar Hassan in a TV programme, declaring the dead terrorists as Shaheed while insulting the Shahadat of thousands of innocent Pakistanis and soldiers of Pakistan’s armed forces.”
He said Mr Hassan had tried to invent a logic based on his political convenience.
“Strong condemnation of his views from an overwhelming majority leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that all of us are very clear on what the state of Pakistan is and who its enemies are. Sacrifices of our Shuhada and their families need no endorsement from Syed Munawar Hassan and such misguided and self-serving statements deserve no comments,” the statement added.
The spokesman said the statement by the chief of a party founded by Maulana Maududi, who was respected and revered for his service to Islam, was both “painful and unfortunate”.
Mr Hassan expressed in a recent TV programme doubts about martyrdom of thousands of army and security personnel who have sacrificed their lives in the war against terrorists in the country since the 9/11 attack in New York.
When asked about the definition of Shaheed and the status of thousands of Pakistani security personnel killed in the fight against militants, he said: “If an American is not a martyr, then how a person who helps and supports him (American) can be called a martyr.”
In another statement, the JI amir declared Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, who had accepted responsibility for killing thousands of innocent civilians and security personnel and was killed in a recent US drone attack, as martyr and said: “America has killed more people than Taliban.”
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also gave a controversial statement defending the Taliban and calling them martyrs. He said: “Even a dog killed by the Americans is a martyr.”
The ISPR statement made no mention of the Maulana’s statement.
Observers are of the opinion that the statements of the two religious leaders have hurt the sentiments of most Pakistanis, who even after suffering from the worst kind of terrorism in which more than 50,000 people were killed, want the government and the TTP to hold talks for permanent peace in the country.
Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement also condemned the remarks made by the JI chief.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari appeal to the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of Mr Hassan’s statement.
Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Ahmed Shah condemned Mr Hassan’s statement and urged him to retract it.
He said the JI chief should also describe the status of thousands of innocent citizens killed in terrorist attacks. “How will Mr Hassan describe the innocent people who were killed indiscriminately in attacks on mosques, imambargahs, churches and markets,” he asked.
The ANP reacted even strongly to the statement and urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice and try the JI chief for treason. “There must be a lifetime ban on Jamaat-i-Islami so that no-one could dare do this in future,” ANP’s spokesman Senator Zahid Khan said.
He alleged that the JI had vehemently supported the US in its war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. “How would he describe those JI men who died in the Afghan war while helping and supporting the Americas,” he asked.
Mr Khan said the JI amir’s statement reflected his party’s line and policies, adding that Mr Hassan badly hurt the feelings of families of the martyrs who had died in the war against terrorism.
PTI leader Imran Ismail condemned the statement and said Mr Hassan had put himself in big trouble. He was a seasoned politician, the PTI leader said, adding that it was important to see how “he gets himself out of this situation.”
Senior political and foreign affairs analyst Hassan Askari described the JI amir’s remarks as a big shock for the nation and said: “Rejecting sacrifices of thousands of martyrs of personnel of the army, police and paramilitary forces is condemnable and the nation will not support such views,” he said.