Aitzaz Hasan Bangash Shaheed (Urdu: اعتزاز حسن, born 1997 – died 7 January 2014 Hangu) was a Pakistani school boy from Hangu District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province who sacrificed his life while preventing a suicide bomber from entering his school of 2,000 students at Ibrahimzai village of Hangu, on 6 January 2014.
Aitzaz’s action to save his classmates captured the hearts of Pakistan, and he was hailed as a National hero. For his act, the office of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had advised President Mamnoon Husain to confer Aitzaz Hasan with the high civil award of Sitara-e-Shujaat (Star of Bravery). He was named as the Herald’s Person of the Year for 2014.
Aitzaz Hasan’s father’s name is Mujahid Ali. His other family included his mother, brother and two sisters. Aitzaz Hasan was a 9th grader at the Ibrahimzai high school. Hasan’s cousin Mudassir Bangash described him as an accomplished student who excelled in all extracurricular activities.
On 7 January 2014, Aitzaz was outside the school gate of Government High School, Ibrahimzai, in Hangu, with two other schoolmates. Aitzaz had not been allowed to attend morning assembly due to his tardiness that day. Allegedly, at this time a 20‑ to 25‑year‑old man approached the gate and stated he was there to “take admission”. One of the students noticed a detonator on the man’s vest, whereupon Aitzaz’s schoolmates ran inside while Aitzaz confronted the suicide bomber, who then detonated his vest.
According to other accounts, Aitzaz was on his way to school when he spotted a suspicious person. When Aitzaz tried to stop him, he started walking faster towards the school. In an attempt to stop the bomber, Aitzaz threw a stone which failed to hit him. Then Aitzaz ran towards the person and grabbed him, prompting the suicide bomber to detonate his explosive-laden vest.
Aitzaz died in the hospital. No other students were harmed. Aitzaz’s act saved the lives of hundreds of students. Scores of people attended his funeral to pay their respects.
The group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack.
Aitzaz’s story led to an outpouring of emotion on television and on social media, where the hashtag #onemillionaitzazs trended on Twitter.
Aitzaz’s father said that his son made a sacrifice to save the lives of others: “My son made his mother cry but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.”
The Minister for Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Shah Farman, said that Aitzaz was a “real hero and true face of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”.
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager education activist and winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, described Aitzaz as “brave and courageous” and said “his bravery must never be forgotten”. She pledged to donate £5,000 to Hasan’s family.
Awards and honors
Many people demanded the Nishan-e-Haider or similar supreme award be awarded to Aitzaz Hasan posthumously. The office of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has advised President Mamnoon Husain to confer Aitzaz Hasan with the high civil award of Sitara-e-Shujaat (Star of Bravery) by Government of Pakistan. The award will be received by Aitzaz Hassan’s family on 23 March, Pakistan’s national day.
On 12 January, the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) bestowed a global bravery award on Hasan.
Aitzaz was named as Herald’s Person of the year 2014. Herald’s annual Person of the Year project sets out to recognize those individuals in Pakistan who had a profound influence on the news and who embodied, for good or ill, what was important about the year. Hasan, whose sacrifice attained further poignancy after the December 16 attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School, emerged as the winner in a three-way voting process that included online voting, postal ballots and input from a panel of 10 eminent Pakistanis. In Herald’s upcoming annual issue, Yousafzai – Herald’s Person of the Year for 2014 – pays tribute to Hasan, writing:
“Our country is blessed with brave people. The story of Aitzaz Hasan reflects their reliance, courage and bravery.”
Scores of people attended his funeral to pay their respects. A floral wreath was laid on the grave of Aitzaz Hasan on behalf of the Pakistani Army chief. A Facebook page has been set up in tribute to his act.
On 14 January, the provincial governmental representatives announced a Rs5 million package for the family of the teen and renamed his school as the Aitzaz Hasan Shaheed High School.
In 2016, a film named Salute was released to tribute him.