Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Police Chief Nasir Khan Durrani has written to the provincial chief miniter to recommend Aitzaz Hasan Bangash for a top civilian honour, according to a police statement issued late on January 9.
“The suicide bomber tried to enter the school where hundreds of students were studying. Aitzaz Hasan sacrificed his life and stopped the bomber with bravery and courage,” read the police statement.
“He saved the lives of hundreds of innocent students with his extreme valour and bravery,” it added.
On Thursday the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government declared Aitzaz Hasan Bangash a ‘great hero’ for sacrificing his life to stop a suicide bomber at a school in Hangu on Monday.
Hasan, 15, was with friends outside school when they spotted a man wearing a suicide vest.
Despite the pleas of his fellow students, he decided to confront and capture the bomber who then detonated his vest, his cousin said.
Aitzaz is being hailed as a hero in an outpouring of praise on social media.
There have even been calls for him to receive the army’s highest honour awarded to those who have sacrificed their life for their country, though it is unclear if he would be qualified to receive it as a civilian.
“We the citizens believe that State of Pk must award Nishan-i-Haider to Pk’s brave son Shaheed Aitezaz,” journalist Nasim Zehra tweeted on Thursday.
The incident took place on Monday in Ibrahimzai, a Shia-dominated region of Hangu. There were almost 2,000 students in attendance at the time of the attack, media reports say.
“My cousin sacrificed his life saving his school and hundreds of students and school fellows,” his cousin Mudassar Hassan Bangish said.
“The suicide bomber wanted to destroy the school and school students. It was my cousin who stopped him from this…destruction.”
He then described the sequence of events as related to him by witnesses at the school.
Aitzaz’s friends had urged him not to confront the suicide bomber but he ignored their pleas and decided to confront the man with the intention of halting him.
“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,” Bangish said.He described Aitzaz as “brave” and a good student. “He always used to say ‘I am always ready for my country’.”
His family insist that rather than focus on the sorrow brought about by his death, they want to focus on their pride in his actions.
“He is a shahid [martyr]. A shahid of his whole nation,” he said.
His family have also spoken of Aitzaz’s actions.
“My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children,” Mujahid Ali, Aitzaz’s father is quoted as saying.
According to Bangish, people in the area would like to see the government give Aitzaz an award to recognise his bravery, and compared him with celebrated Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai – a comparison being echoed across social media.
On Twitter, users are paying tribute to Aitzaz using the hashtags #onemillionaitzaz and #AitzazBraveheart echoing the language used online around figures such as Malala and the Delhi rape victim, whose death galvanised Indian public opinion and prompted changes in rape laws there.
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.”