HANGU: Perhaps the only way a parent can deal with the loss of a child is to believe that it was for a cause. This is how Aitizaz Hasan’s parents console themselves: reminding each other, their family and friends that their child is a martyr and he died saving hundreds of lives.
Aitizaz reached school late on Monday morning and was not allowed to attend the morning assembly as punishment. He was standing outside the gate with two other schoolmates when a man aged 20-25 years approached the Government High School Ibrahimzai in Hangu and said he was there to take admission, said Aitizaz’s elder brother, Mujtaba.
It was during this conversation that one of the students spotted a detonator and Aitizaz’s schoolmates ran inside. But Aitizaz stood his ground and got hold of the bomber who then detonated his vest.
“I had never thought that my brother would die such a great death. He sacrificed his life to save humanity,” Mujtaba said in an interview with The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
The school is the only one in Ibrahimzai, a Shia-dominated area in Hangu. There were nearly 2,000 students in the school at the time the attack occurred. Later in the day, the bombing, which was the first suicide attack at a school, was claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Aitizaz was the second of his siblings and had two sisters. He was a friend to many, respected and loved in his village, where the news of his death spread rapidly.
His father Mujahid Ali works in the UAE. He says he has not come back home to mourn his son’s death, but to celebrate his life. “My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.”
“I am ready to sacrifice my second son for Pakistan as well,” Ali added. “There are a handful of people in the world who are martyrs; I am now one of those proud fathers whose son is amongst them.”
The government should announce a civilian award, Tamgha-i-Shujaat or Nishan-e-Haider, for his bravery, Mujtaba added.
Government officials had not visited the family until Wednesday night and neither had officials made their typical announcements of ‘compensation’.
Teachers and students say they are still in shock. The principal of the school, Lal Baz, said he is at a loss for words to express Aitizaz’s bravery. “The attack targeted education and I am surprised neither the federal nor the provincial government functionary has visited the family. Their silence is condemnable.”
A student, Atif Hussain, said the vacuum left by his death may never be filled. “Aitizaz died for education and no one can snatch this right from us.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2014.