Britain's highest ranking Muslim naval officer has urged other non-whites to sign up and fight for their country.
Commodore Amjad Hussain - soon to be made Rear Admiral in the Royal Navy - called for Asian youths to follow in the footsteps of Muslim soldier Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi and look to a career in the British Armed Forces.
Speaking on the day of L/Cpl Hashmi's funeral in Birmingham on Saturday, Commodore Hussain said: "I am lucky enough to work for an organisation that is more interested in what I can do rather than where I come from."
Pakistan-born L/Cpl Hash-mi, 24, became the first British Muslim to be killed in the "war on terror" when he was attacked by Taliban fighters in Sangin, in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, on July 1.
Defending the British Army's involvement in Afghanistan, Commodore Hussain said: "The World is a complex and problematic place - we can't solve all the issues but we can help make a difference and contribute to making it a better place.
"In Bosnia we helped protect Muslims. We intervened in Sierra Leone.
"One's rule of thumb should be is there a democratic process, and is a regime legal? No one should be forced to live under the rule of the Taliban."
The officer spoke as he received the Lloyds TSB Asian Jewel Award marking his 30 years of service to the British Armed Forces.
Describing the honour as "humbling", the 48-year-old said: "It is a wonderful life. If you are working in a part of the world where your life is in danger - you need a great team. We value equality for that very reason.
"In many countries, the armed forces are often the last bastion of traditional thinking. If my example gives encouragement to young British Asians to sign up then I will be a happy man.
"The strength of the chain is equal to its weakest link - therefore people can't be excluded.
"The fact that I am a Muslim is irrelevant to my job. I am proud to serve Britain in difficult times."
Khalid Darr, chairman of The Institute of Asian Professionals, which organised the awards, added: "These awards are an example of all of the many ways in which the Asian community is contributing to Britain's economy, culture and ultimately it's standing in the world.
"The winners are a shining example to Britain as a whole, and a beacon for the British Asian community. For every winner there are thousands more out there quietly working for a better Britain." n Defence Secretary Des Browne is expected to announce today details of the promised reinforcements for the British task force in southern Afghanistan.
Mr Browne told the Commons last week that he had received a request for more troops from commanders in Helmand province where six British soldiers have died during a month of fighting with the Taliban.
It is expected that he will reveal details of the deployment in a statement to the House this afternoon.
It was reported last week that the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, was on standby, and could be there by the end of the month.
Their deployment would double the number of infantry combat troops in the province from 600 to 1,200. ..SUPL: