ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) spokesman Naeemul Haque on Thursday defended his stance over calling Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mansour a 'martyr'.
"Fighting to liberate your homeland is a just cause," Naeem told Dawn.com, a day after he spoke on a television show and called the head of the outlawed Taliban a 'martyr'.
The PTI spokesman told Dawn.com he believes 'shaheed' (martyr) is a "political term" and even Indian Muslim soldiers killed in Kargil by Pakistani forces were called 'shaheed'.
He justified his position by saying that till a few weeks ago Pakistani authorities were talking to the same Afghan Taliban in Murree in the presence of American and Afghan officials.
Mansour, who was elevated to the leadership of the Afghan Taliban after a bitter power struggle, was killed on May 21 in a US drone strike in Balochistan province.
The raid was the first known US assault on a top Afghan Taliban leader on Pakistani soil. Pakistan had lambasted the US over the drone attack, calling it a violation of its sovereignty.
Authorisation for the strike came directly from US President Barack Obama.
Obama later claimed that Mansour had rejected efforts "to seriously engage in peace talks and end the violence that has taken the lives of countless innocent Afghan men, women and children"
The statement and the uproar
During the Capital TV show 'Seedhi Baat', Naeemul Haq had said that President Mamnoon Hussain during his address to the joint session of the parliament did not express his opinion over two of the major issues — the Panama papers and the US drone strike in Balochistan.
"The US drone strike in Balochistan in which Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mansour was killed, I'd rather say was martyred," Naeemul Haque notified.
His statement created an uproar over social media, with some criticising him for his sympathies with the militant group while others suggesting it was a slip of tongue.
It is pertinent to note that, Naeemul Haque's party also came under criticism when in 2013, the party chief Imran Khan called for immediate blockade of Nato supplies after Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief's killing in a US drone strike in North Waziristan area.