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Was I a soldier? The case of Aitzaz Hassan and Our martyrs of Education

6th of January, 2014 was a very normal day in our lives, but in Hangu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa there was a history going to be written. Pakistan since the start of terrorist attacks post 9/11 faced displacements, destruction, and fear. Education has been under fire as well as the educators. Schools were razed and demolished, Educators were target killed and students were punished for attaining a process that is one of the most important rights of a person. Barriers were laid for anyone who wanted to pursue education. The nation observed many deadly days as well, the APS attack and Malala’s incidents were the ones which affected the most.

The martyrdom of Aitzaz Hassan, a 15-year-old student of grade nine is one of those incidents which forces us to think, process, about our education system and what our people are facing. This young student went to school to attain what would have made his future prosperous and stable, but what he got was Sitara-e-Shujaat for his bravery. Aitzaz, when he saw a suicide bomber, coming towards his school, ran and seized him, during this tussle the suicide bomb went off and the martyr of Hangu saved hundreds of his fellows and enabled them to attain what he would have too.

The nation still remembers what Aitzaz did, but never discusses why he had to do this. He would have led a successful and joyful life with and for his family, but at a young age, he had to do what a soldier does. But was he a soldier? Was he attending his school to achieve martyrdom? Was he in the school to save it or to get an education?. The Government and Media will never ever discuss and address these questions. The regime failed to protect his school and he had to do what was the duty of security services.

Even after the attack of APS, national media reported that our students achieved martyrdom for the country. But their mothers did not send them to school to fight the terrorist. Those were what we call the builders of the nation, who were supposed to learn and work as per their ambitions. The educators were not there to fight and protect their students, but they were there to educate them. Our nation has to come out of this anomaly that everyone is here to fight and everyone wants to die for the country. If there is no one left, who will run this country and who will recite “Pak-Sar Zameen Shad baad”

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Thank You Hussain for this post. It is something that i always think about when the media and govt portrays the victims of attacks on educational institutions as SHAHEED like it is a candy to be given to a crying child. This nation and govt has exploited the word Shaheed to sugarcoat the atrocities subjected upon the innocent people and concealing their own failures of protecting the people. Tell parents and the nation that the children who were brutally killed in schools are Shaheed and make them shut up right there. It makes me so angry. I came across a mother's interview whose son was killed in APS attack. She told the newspaper that the govt named a road after…


Unfortunately, it is more easy for the State to cover up its negligence and dereliction of duty by hiding behind the narrative of glorifying martyrs than facing uncomfortable questions about its lack of action against radicalization and extremism.


This was beautifully written. Thank you for reminding me about the story of Aitzaz Hassan. I always find it bittersweet when we celebrate martyrs for the sacrifices they made. Did they want to make those sacrifices? What about those who loved them who also made a sacrifice? Who talks about them?

These people are heroes, this much is true, but did they want their entire lives to be reduced to one incident where they were forced to be heroes? Heroes are honoured by sustaining their legacy. What heroes are honoured when history keeps repeating itself, when what they "sacrifice" themselves to prevent happened again, on another day, long after the hero was gone? Attaining an education should not be synonymous…

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Thank you and yes the whole nation have accepted that all those children selected this and astonishing is that people are unable to accept that this mixture is heterogenous and we can never mix education and sacrifice. This is what i have tried to explain in the simplest words that this has to stop and it has to be now!

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