Senator Sajid Mir, Chief of Jamiat Ahle Hadith Pakistan, sparked vigorous argument on social media through his video message in the wake of appointment of the new army chief.
He said, “According to my knowledge, one of the generals being considered as the new army chief belongs to a family which does not believe in Khatam e Nabuwat (the Islamic principle that Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is the last prophet). “Pakistan Army is the biggest army amongst Islamic Countries and a person with such belief cannot lead it.” Mir indirectly said that the general belongs to an Ahmadi family.
The statement posed several questions about constitutional and historical legitimacy of his statement.
- What is the proof of this claim?
- Is being Muslim required for being appointed as the army chief?
- Is there reason to doubt the patriotism of non-Muslim minorities?
Fact-checking belies this rumor. Mir has offered no evidence, and there are no other records that would indicate the general’s religious beliefs.
War history of Pakistan and the Constitution give us factual answers to the latter questions.
The Constitution of Pakistan, Article 27 says, “No citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth.”
Constitutionally speaking, a non-Muslim cannot be the President, Prime Minister and a judge of Federal Shariah Court; otherwise, he/she can serve anywhere in any capacity.
Our war history is filled with tales about patriotism and bravery of non-Muslim servicemen. The list of our non-Muslim war heroes is very long. Here’s a small sample of non-Muslims and their military services:
- Maj Gen Julian Peter, a Pakistani Christian, fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars against India alongside his Muslim colleagues.
- Air Vice Marshal Eric Gordon Hall, a Christian and Pakistan Air Force’s bomber and fighter pilot, generated the idea of using C-130 aircraft as a bomber plane.
- Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry, another Pakistani Christian and Pakistan Air Force’s fighter pilot, fought in the 1965 and 1971 wars. In 1965 War, he was in the team that destroyed Amritsar Radar Station in a difficult mission.
- Gen Abdul Ali Malik, a Pakistani Ahmadi, planned and fought the historical tank battle of Chawinda in 1965 War. The strategy he used for the tank battle is still part of the war courses.
- Gen Akhtar Hussain Malik, brother of Gen Ali, earned fame for his bravery and planning during Operation Gibraltar.
- Maj Gen Kaizad Soparivala was the first Parsi (Zoroastrian) general of Pakistan Army and his father also served as Lt Colonel.
We Pakistanis should discourage anyone who equates patriotism with religious beliefs. Statements like Mir’s only add to sense of insecurity and bereavement amongst religious minorities.
Just as importantly, gossip and rumor should not be taken as truth. That’s the whole reason Truth Tracker exists – to point out unfounded statements by bringing forward the facts.