A Pakistani teenager immortalized himself as a hero on Monday when he gave his life to tackle a suicide bomber who was running into his school.
According to the BBC, 15-year-old Aitzaz Hasan was chatting with a few friends outside his school in the Hangu region when he spotted a man wearing a vest laden with explosives.
His friends begged him to stay put but Hasan confronted and took down the bomber, who responded by detonating the vest.
Aitzaz’s incomparable sacrifice has caused many to urge the Pakistani military to award him the army’s highest honor.
“We the citizens believe that State of Pk must award Nishan-i-Haider to Pk’s brave son Shaheed Aitezaz,” journalist Nasim Zehra tweeted earlier today.
There were almost 2,000 students at the school when the bomber appeared.
Aitzaz’s cousin described to the BBC the sequence of events as relayed to him by some of Hasan’s friends who were with him that day.
“So he told them ‘I’m going to stop him. He is going to school to kill my friends.’ He wanted to capture this suicide bomber. He wanted to stop [him]. Meanwhile the suicide bomber blasted himself which resulted in the death of my cousin,” Mudassar Hassan Bangish said.
Bangish described his cousin as “brave” and a good student.
“He always used to say ‘I am always ready for my country’,” he added.
Aitzaz’s family is insisting that Pakistan focus on the boy’s bravery and pride rather than the sorrow of his death.
“He is a shahid [martyr]. A shahid of his whole nation,” Bangish said.
Aitzaz’s father, Mujahid Ali, told Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper:
“My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.”
Residents of Aitzaz’s mostly Shia hometown along with a great deal of the country as a whole are comparing the boy to Malala Yousafzai, the fearless campaigner for female education who was shot in the face by a member of the Taliban.
Former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, tweeted: “Hangu’s shaheed Aitzaz Hasan is #Pakistan’s pride. Give him a medal at least. Another young one with heartstopping courage #AitzazBraveheart.”
Hangu is located near Pakistani’s tribal regions, which have strong Taliban and al-Qaeda presence. The area has become the site of tremendous sectarian violence against Shia Muslims.
Bangish said that in order to cope with the imminent danger, Hangu “needs courage like Aitzaz has. We salute his bravery.”