ARY Special

Pakistan's valiant, unsung heroes

Every country, every nation has a way of honoring its heroes and proud achievers. A national hero is one who serves the country valiantly and offers ultimate sacrifices.

However, there are few who sacrifice their lives and honor in order to serve their country but are not honored in the same way. Their services are taken for granted or they do not live to see themselves basked in glory or honor. Here’s a list of five such heroes and heroines who gave up their lives for Pakistani citizens and will never be forgotten, at least from our hearts and minds.

1. Tahira Kazi

Principal Tahira Kazi belonged to the ill-fated Army Public School in Peshawar. On the morning of December 16, 2014 miltants stormed the APS school and opened indiscriminate firing on all inhabitants. Tahira Kazi jumped forward in front of the militants and boldly stood up to the terrorists. In an unmatched courageous manner, the principal of the school declared,”I am their mother. Talk to me.”

The poor woman was shot dead in front of her students. Regarding her, a student says: “The first thing that comes to my mind is that she was very strict and good in English.” Another said: “ Whichever student was good at their studies, she would appreciate them. She never hesitated to tell us if we did well.”

2. Aitzaz Hasan

Aitzaz Hasan was a schoolboy from Hangu district who, through sheer bravery and selfless sacrifice, saved the lives of more than 2,000 from a suicide bomber. Aitzaz was outside his school gate when he saw a suspicious man walking towards the school. When Aitzaz called out to the person to stop, he started walking faster towards the school. The brave lad ran forward and tackled the terrorist to the ground upon which he detonated the vest. Aitzaz was no more among the living but his sacrifice saved countless lives and he was hailed as a national hero. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had President Mamnoon Hussain confer Sitara-e-Shujaat (Star of Bravery).

3. Nasrullah Shaji

Probably one of the most fearless self sacrifice was offered by Nasrullah Shaji. The naib ameer of Jamat-e-Islami Karachi wing was on an educational tour with schoolchildren when one of the boys from grade 10 fell into Kunhar River. Shaji, aged 45, unhesitatingly jumped into the river in a bid to save the life of the boy but lost his own. Both of them died but Shaji’s heroic act was looked upon with admiration and pride. Outpouring of grief and sympathy was received from all corners of Pakistan.

4. Samia Noreen

Samia was a selfless, kind human being who couldn’t stand the sight of innocent children burning in front of her. As many as 18 schoolchildren and their teacher were burnt alive when their van caught fire due to a short circuit. The teacher, Samiya Noreen, who had managed to survive by jumping out of the van again went inside it to rescue the trapped children, including her four nephews, and lost her life. The Punjab Government had ordered that a school would be named after her as the Government Samiya Noreen Shaheed Girls Elementary School.

5. Afshan Ahmad

When the carnage and destruction of the Peshawar APS massacre took place, Afshan Ahmad, a schoolteacher, remained defiant even in the face of death. Following the footsteps of Principal Tahira, she leapt in between the children and the inhuman terrorists and screamed  “You can only kill my students over my dead body.” She was doused with petrol and set alight. This account was narrated by one of her students, 15-year-old Irfan Ullah, who couldn’t hold back his tears whilst narrating the account. “She was a hero, so brave. She jumped up and stood between us and the terrorists before they could target us. I remember her last words – she said: ‘I won’t see my students lying in blood on the floor.’

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