Ninth-grade student Aitezaz Hasan has become Pakistan's latest young hero after he sacrificed his own life to stop a suicide bomber from entering his school in Hangu district, in the north-west of Pakistan.
Aitezaz was standing outside his school's gate when he saw a man wearing a suicide vest laden with explosives. He bravely tackled the bomber and prevented him from entering his school in Ibrahimzai, a Shia-dominated area in Hangu. The bomber soon detonated his explosives, killing Aitezaz and himself.
According to media reports, there were around 1,000 students at the school at the time of attack.
Aitezaz is being hailed a national hero by the provincial government. There are social media campaigns to give him the Nishan-e-Haider, the highest military award for bravery in the country. Pakistan's Prime minister, Mohammad Nawaz Sharif has recommended him for Sitara-e- Shujat, the nation's highest civilian bravery award. This can be given once the President approves it.
Twitter users have been using the hashtags #onemillionaitzaz and #AitzazBraveheart to pay him tribute.
Nasim Zehra, a TV journalist tweets:
Mr.PrimeMinister v the citizens believe that State of Pk must award Nishan-i-Haider to Pk's brave son Shaheed Aitezaz #onemillionaitzaz
— Nasim Zehra (@NasimZehra) January 9, 2014
Samar Minallah Khan, anthropologist and documentary film maker form the north-western region of Pakistan tweets:
— Samar Minallah Khan (@SamarMinallahKh) January 9, 2014
Sherry Rehman, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US tweets a picture of Hasan's school:
— sherryrehman (@sherryrehman) January 11, 2014
Along with paying tributes and credit to Hasan, a few Twitter users also questioned the government's failure to openly name the killers and condemn suicide attacks in the region. The Taliban have been targeting Shia mosques and areas with increasing frequency. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf or PTI is running the government in the north-western province of KPK. Despite the attacks by the Taliban they are pushing for dialogue with them.
— Saman J. (@SsamanJay) January 9, 2014
Salman Sikandar wonders why the federal government isn't blaming the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for Aitezaz's murder, even though the provincial Sindh government recently implicated the same organization for the murder of Choudhary Aslam, known as Pakistan's toughest cop:
Dear NawazSharif/Imran Khan & Co, Who is responsible for murder of Aitzaz Hasan” Sindh Govt clearly implicated TTP in Ch Aslam case.
— Salman Sikandar (@SALSIKandar) January 12, 2014
In her blog, Mona Nasir from Peshawar wonders how long our kids will continue to sacrifice their lives:
When I read this unprecedented story of this young boy courage , or for that matter anyone who loses their life in this losing war, I say to myself another one bites the dust. More than 60,000 have lost their lives, and more than million displaced through operations in areas which we hold responsible for all the mayhem, but we are still not sure where the root of the evil lie actually there, is it our war or not or how to deal with it.
Zarrar Khurro, writes in an English language daily newspaper Dawn, “Are we worthy of Aitzaz Husain?”
We don’t need more Aitzazs’. Not one or one million. What we need is to be worthy of the one we lost. What we need is for those who claim to lead us to show the courage that this boy did. Perhaps, that is too much to ask from those who roll out apologies and obfuscations with such unerring regularity, but stammer and shake when it comes to naming those responsible for mass murder.