15-year-old Aitizaz Hasan is being hailed as a national hero following his death in Pakistan. Aitizaz was killed trying to stop a suicide bomber from detonating his fatal cargo in the boy’s school.
Aitizaz was standing outside his school in Hangu, a town in northwest Pakistan, with two classmates as a punishment for being late, the Guardian reported. The teens spotted a man carrying bombs, who approached them and tried to engage in conversation. The two others fled, but Aitizaz tackled the man to prevent him from entering the school.
The bomber detonated the explosives, and Aitizaz later died in the hospital from his injuries.
"My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children," his father, Mujahid Ali, told the Express Tribune.
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"There are a handful of people in the world who are martyrs; I am now one of those proud fathers whose son is among them."
Aitizaz sacrificed his life for the 2,000 students who attended his school.
“I had never thought that my brother would die such a great death. He sacrificed his life to save humanity,” Aitizaz’ older brother Mujtaba told the newspaper.
The peace in Hangu is frequently disturbed by strife between the majority Sunni sect and the town’s large Shia community. Militant groups consider Shias heretics and try to force them to convert, or else be killed.
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Pakistanis are calling for Aitizaz’s bravery to be recognized, campaigning on social media for him to posthumously receive the country’s highest military honor, Nishaan-e-Haider. Others have expressed dismay at the government’s refusal to take action against militant groups in the increasing scourge of suicide bombs in the country, preferring a drawn-out and potentially dangerous appeasement process.
Dawn newspaper columnist Zarrar Khuhro lamented the fact that Aitizaz “had to give his life fighting a scourge that our own leaders bend over backwards in an attempt to appease. There is sorrow and rage because a nation that can produce such lions does not deserve to be led by such lambs.”
“We don’t need more Aitzazs. Not one or one million. What we need is to be worthy of the one we lost,” he wrote.