¤¤¤ Grave of Braveheart fifteen years old Aitzaz Hasan.
STORY of A BRAVEHEART
Recent attack by Pakistani Taliban on Army Public School, Peshawar in which 138 children 10 school staff had killed shaken the whole world. But, what happened now could have taken place much earlier but a fifteen year old boy had averted it. Had their security agencies learn something from that incident the tragedy could be averted again.
Aitzaz Hasan, a 15-year-old ninth grader, was late for school and rushing with two friends to make the morning assembly when they were stopped by a stranger wearing the same uniform as theirs, who curiously asked for directions to the school where Aitzaz was heading. Aitzaz grew suspicious, and tackled the stranger as he tried to flee. Then the stranger blew himself up, killing them both.
The suicide bombing in north western Pakistan, where Islamist extremism and sectarian mayhem are daily facts of life, has struck a deep nerve in the country— not because of the bomber, believed to be a Taliban extremist, but because of the student who risked his life, and lost it, to stop him.
In a national outpouring of grief and angst that has grown more intense as the news of Aitzaz’s intervention has spread, many Pakistanis are calling him a hero, worthy of Pakistan’s highest award for valor. Some are calling him Pakistan’s male answer to Malala Yousafzai, 16, who was shot in the head and neck on a school bus in north western Pakistan in October 2012 by Taliban gunmen because she had defied their ban on school attendance by girls.
Now a world celebrity, she survived after extensive surgery and rehabilitation.
“What is unfortunate is that Aitzaz lost his life,” Zahidullah, a cousin, said on interview. “What is fortunate is that he saved the lives of hundreds of other students.” Relatives and police officials said the suicide bomber had wanted to detonate his explosives at Government Boys High School in Ibrahimzai. At least 1,000 students study there.
Zahidullah said Aitzaz and his friends had been rushing to avoid tardiness when they encountered the stranger. “It made my cousin suspicious, and he inquired about the person’s identity and why was he never seen in the school earlier,” Zahidullah said. “The person tried to escape, and Aitzaz tried to tackle him. In this struggle, the bomber blew himself up.”
Some prominent Pakistani journalists, bloggers and Twitter users have urged the Pakistani government to honor Aitzaz in some extraordinary way. The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has issued no official response. “We must honor him,” Nasim Zehra, a Pakistani journalist tweets. She suggested the teenager should be given “Nishan-e-Haider”, the highest Pakistani military award, equivalent to the Medal of Honor.
Police officials say Ibrahimzai’s population includes many Shi’ites (Shia), who have come under repeated attacks by Taliban militants and Lashkar-e Jhangvi, a banned extremist Sunni militant group. Aitzaz Hasan was Shia.
Aitzaz’s family has sought to show stoicism, cousin said, and has not talked of the possibility sectarian aspect to his death. Zahiduddin said that the shocked bombing was an attack against the country.
“Aitzaz was very lively and friendly, he was very cute. He loved his country and his friends. He sacrificed his life for them.” Further told by Hasan’s cousin. Father worked as a driver in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and he had two sisters and a brother.
“We must acknowledge the rare individual Hasan was,” said Ms. Zehra, the journalist. “This courageous teenager attempted to battle death. What gave him this confidence? Outrage Parenting? Faith? From the bloodletting terrorism in Pakistan are emerging uniquely inspiring and iconic individuals like Malala and now Aitzaz Hasan.”
Underneath the praise for the teenager, questions have surfaced about the stance of the provincial and federal governments, which have advocated peace talks with Taliban militants.
After Aitzaz’s death, the criticism of the government’s strategy has intensified. Jarrar Khuhro, a journalist who works for Dawn, the country’s leading English-language daily newspaper, echoed the sentiments in an emotional blog post.
“We live in a land where a young child,” Mr. Khuhro wrote, Aitzaz, “had to give his life fighting a scourge that our own leaders bend over backwards attempt to appease.”
…shabab khan blog
©MAGNETIQUE TRUST – 2014. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Credits: Dawn, Pakistan Times, Twitter, Facebook, Al Jazeera, The Times of India and Shabab Khan