Tributes have been pouring in for 15-year-old Aitzaz Hasan, who died while tackling a suicide bomber targeting his school in Hangu on January 6. The Pakistani teenager was playing with his friends outside the school when they noticed a man in a suicide vest. Despite his friends pleading him not to get involved, Hasan chose to confront the bomber, seconds before the vest was detonated.
The incident took place in Ibrahimzai, Hangu, a place located near Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal region with a dominantly Shia population. The region has a strong presence of militants including Al Qaeda and the Taliban and sectarian violence is a day-to-day occurrence . According to media reports, more than 2,000 students were inside the school at the time of the attack.
“My cousin sacrificed his life saving his school and hundreds of students. The suicide bomber wanted to destroy the school and its students. It was my cousin who stopped him from this destruction. He is a shahid, a shahid of his whole nation," said Mudassar Hassan Bangish, Hasan’s cousin.
Hasan has emerged as a hero and has received praise from all quarters on social media. “Aitzaz Hasan, 15 years old, gave his life to stop a suicide bomber in Pakistan. A reminder to us all what real courage is. RIP, brave soul," said writer and journalist Omer Aziz’s tweet on January 9.
"From #Malala to #Aitzaz Irum young people paving the way for Jinnah's #Pakistan with their blood. #onemillionaitzazs," blogger Murtaza Solangi tweeted.
Reportedly, some also want him to receive the army’s highest honour that is awarded to soldiers who serve the country. However, it is unclear whether Hasan would qualify, as he was a civilian.
Sherry Rehman, formerly Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, tweeted, "Hangu's shaheed Aitzaz Hasan is #Pakistan's pride. Give him a medal at least. Another young one with heartstopping courage #AitzazBraveheart."
“We the citizens believe that State of Pk must award Nishan-i-Haider to Pk's brave son Shaheed Aitezaz,” read journalist Nasim Zehra’s tweet.
Hasan’s family insists that they rather focus on the pride of his actions than think about the sorrow brought upon them by his death. "My son made his mother cry but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children," said Mujahid Ali, Hasan’s father.
Photo Credits: @AleemMaqbool