When young Aitizaz Hussain stopped a strange bulky-looking man outside the gate of his school, little did he know that it would be the last thing he did. In a country where martyrdom has become a controversial subject, the teenaged student of class nine from Hangu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was conferred the civilian honour Sitara-e-Shujaat for his brave act which saved the lives of hundreds of students who were entering the school on the morning of January 6.

The Prime Minister’s office in a statement on Friday said that his action was a sterling example of gallantry and patriotism. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has also recognised the boy’s bravery and declared him a hero. According to news reports the chubby schoolboy first asked the person who looked suspicious to stop and when he didn’t, he reportedly threw a stone at him.

When the terrorist started running towards the school, Aitizaz ran after him and tried to grapple with him with fatal consequences, local police said.

His action has drawn support from a globally famous student who was shot at by the Taliban. Malala Yousafzai according to reports has endorsed Hussain’s act of bravery and said that he sacrificed his own life and protected hundreds of innocent young students from being killed. She said his bravery must never be forgotten.

Even the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police had recommended a civilian award for the boy. His family too is proud of their son’s sacrifice. The Ibrahimzai area where the school is located in Hangu district is a Shia-dominated area and a sectarian group had claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Brigadier Nadeem Zaki Manj, Local Commander in Hangu, visited the grave of Aitizaz Hussain and placed a wreath on behalf of the Chief of the Army Staff and offered prayers. He also conveyed the Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif’s rich tributes to the bereaved family on the boy's bravery and sacrifice. Gen. Sharif said that the nation was proud of this young hero who has set a sterling example of bravery and sacrifice at a young age of 15 years and has sacrificed his today for a better tomorrow.

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