Amongst the growing intolerance in the world, there still are people willing to hold high the flag of honesty. People who are willing to do anything and everything, just for the sake of their prestigious homeland, not stepping back even if it requires their very own blood.
Talking of death, children are the ones least bothered by the fear of it. Even if it be staring them right in the face, the finality of the fear does no way paralyze them. Perhaps this was how Aitzaz Hasan Bangash felt. He probably did not think of what it meant confronting a suicide bomber, or that there was an existence of something as binding as death. Or perhaps he did, and that yet didn’t stop him.
There were kids at APS Peshawar to whom death came unannounced. To Aitzaz, death was a real possibility. On 6th January 2014, Aitzaz saw a suicide bomber trying to enter his school in the Ibrahimzai village, and attack the morning assembly. Rather than running away to save himself, he stopped the attacker eventually losing his life but saving that of around two thousand other students.
The responsibility of the attack was later claimed by Lashkar e Jhangvi. Aitzaz Hassan then 15, captured the bomber who detonated his vest. ‘The suicide bomber wanted to destroy the school. It was my cousin who stopped him from this destruction’, his cousin Mudassar Hassan Bangash told BBC. The same school he died protecting, is now named after him.
- Herald’s Person of the Year 2014
- Sitara e Shujaat
- Global bravery award presented by International Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
Six feet tall, built like a tank, Aitzaz dreamt of joining the army. It was perhaps all about timing and he happened to be there just when the suicide bomber came along. There were other kids present at the spot too who chose to ran whereas Aitzaz stood his ground.
He was someone who felt responsible for the security of his village, his school, and most of all his people. We do not know why Aitzaz asked those standing with him to leave and let him deal with the bomber himself. All we know is that he gave up himself for the sake of those around him. ‘Like Malala revolutionized the youth’s outlook on female education, Aitzaz has instilled in them a spirit of sacrifice’, said the school principal who hung a picture of the teenage boy alongside that of Jinnah on the wall of his office.
The boy who made his mother cry for him but prevented many others to cry for their sons. It was after the Peshawar attack that Aitzaz’ sacrifice became even more prominent and appreciated. Reflecting his courage and bravery, Aitzaz Hassan is a name the nation shall never forget. Rich tribute has been paid to the young man and continues to date.