Pakistanis face a lot of confusing dilemmas. Our best friend is China which is not a Muslim country and on the other hand we have love-hate relationships with a lot of our ‘Brother Muslim Countries’. This is a great puzzle for us as we have been brought up with an understanding that we are a Muslim Ummah and our best friends are supposed to be Muslim countries. This is the idea which instigates a protest in Pakistan from certain political and religious outfits whenever there is an issue in another Muslim country. Though none of these ‘Brotherly Muslim Countries’ have reciprocated us whatsoever.

In this article I wish to focus on the concept of Martyrdom (Shahadat) for a Non-Muslim in Pakistan, especially fighting for the armed forces or LEAs.

Different times require different approaches towards domestic and international matters. What was right in the past may not be valid today. That does not make it wrong; rather just not right anymore. Some things are always wrong while most things in politics and society are fluid, they keep evolving.

We often see that one sect or group of people do not accept another sect’s killing/death as martyrdom. The debate on what constitutes a proper Muslim martyrdom rages on in Islam with no end in sight. I don’t wish to give my two cents on this topic at all. There are bigger things at hand.

Pakistan was not created to be just a land for Muslims, rather all religious minorities were to have equal rights. The argument will be lost if we do the same thing to minorities which Muslims faced before 1947.

Advani called Jinnah 'An ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity' when he paid homage to the Quaid in Karachi and this is what he was and he envisaged. Let’s just sit back and imagine for a while if Jinnah would have endorsed the objective resolution of 1949 as it was.

Recently, there was a news of a Hindu soldier who laid his life while fighting for the Pakistan army. I saw some hateful arguments not in favor of granting him the martyr status. This is alarming and disrespectful for all the minorities in Pakistan. Pakistan was created as a separate homeland for Muslims but also to provide unqualified freedom to all, minorities to be able to live and practice religion as they please, just as Jinnah envisaged.

This is what slain Lal Chand felt, “I would take revenge of every drop of blood from those who have inflicted loss to the children and people of our country.”

How his family or others aspiring to join the armed forces or LEAs will react to the argument that they cannot be considered as martyrs as they are Non-Muslims? I do not mean to imply that they should be considered martyrs according to the religious concept of martyrdom in Islam, rather martyrdom should be a national subject, not a religious one. We are not even unison on condemning Taliban. Some did not even accept the Muslim soldiers killed in the line of duty as martyrs. How can we expect them to accept non Muslims’ role in armed forces?  There will be no end to this debate in sight.

I can personally relate to this because my mother was gunned down in a terrorist attack in 1996. A lot of people started calling her Shaheed and it was a great loss for me. She was a recipient of posthumous president’s award for pride of performance. But I never asked anyone to call her a shaheed or thought of imposing my religious views of her death to others. It is a personal matter and should be left for our family to decide.

When there are huge disagreements over what makes a religious martyr I believe we should start thinking of not limiting the martyrdom status just to Muslims. Any Hindu, Christian, Sikh or any other non-Muslim should have the confidence that his or her death won’t be less than that of a Muslim.

I strongly believe it is time that the government should start working on a legislation which provides for a broad understanding on a National martyr (Pakistani Shaheed) and make sure that minorities who die for Pakistan are equally considered for national accolades and medals.

The prime minister laid out a clear and broad vision for the creation of Pakistan when he said that “Pakistan was not made so one religion can dominate over others,” during a recent address to an audience gathered for a Hindu Holi event.