The Pakistani Taliban have contended that those opposed to referring to dead militants as martyrs are like persons who do not want cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar to be praised because he is an Indian.
In a clip posted on Thursday on a video-sharing website, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid made the remarks while responding to criticism of Jamaat-e-Islam chief Munawar Hasan's comments describing slain commander Hakimullah Mehsud as a shaheed (martyr).
Shahid's remarks were initially mistaken by the media as a criticism of praise for Tendulkar, who recently bid farewell to international cricket.
"Those in the media criticising Munawar Hasan, they are acting like those...There is an Indian player named Tendulkar who was praised highly by the media and Pakistanis while Misbah-ul-Haq was criticised," he said.
"Some people may say Tendulkar may be a very good player but don't talk about his greatness because that is against Pakistani nationhood. And these people say Misbah, even if he is a bad player, should be praised because he is a Pakistani. So those who are criticising Munawar Hasan are behaving like this," he added.
Shahid made it clear he was using Tendulkar as an example while speaking about the media's coverage of the controversy over the Jamaat chief's statement describing Hakimullah Mehsud as a martyr. Mehsud was killed in a United States drone strike on November 1.
He claimed Pakistani soldiers "fighting for the US" were being called martyrs while Taliban fighters fighting for Islam were not referred to in the same manner.
The Pakistan army reacted angrily to the Jamaat chief's praise of Mehsud, saying he should apologise to families of soldiers who died fighting terrorists.
Tendulkar's recent retirement from international cricket was extensively covered by the Pakistani media and his last speech was beamed live. Newspapers paid rich tributes to the icon, saying cricket will be poorer without him.
Dawn wrote Tendulkar's retirement marks the end of a truly memorable career that spanned nearly a quarter of a century. Tendulkar continued to rewrite record books with his batting skills since making his debut against Pakistan in Karachi in 1989, it said.
Insaaf, an Urdu daily, wrote cricketers like Tendulkar are not born every day. He is widely loved and his fans must be sad as "cricket without him is surely poorer", it said.