The loss of a child is usually heartbreaking. But for Pakistani father Mujahid Ali Bangash, the untimely death of his teenage son has been a source of pride, rather than sadness.
Fifteen-year-old Aitzaz Hassan died in hospital on Monday after throwing himself at a suicide bomber outside his school in the northwestern district of Hangu, an area dominated by minority Shia Muslims.
His selfless act saved the lives of “hundreds” of students, Bangash told the Agence France-Presse.
"Aitzaz has made us proud by valiantly intercepting the bomber and saving the lives of hundreds of his fellow students," the 55-year-old said.
"I am happy that my son has become a martyr by sacrificing his life for a noble cause."
Bangash works in the United Arab Emirates and reached his home in Ibrahimzai village the day after his son’s funeral.
"Many people are coming to see me but if they try to express sympathy, I tell them to congratulate me instead on becoming the father of a martyr," he said.
"I will be even more than happy if my second son also sacrifices his life for the country."
Provincial police chief Nasir Khan Durrani recommended Aitzaz for Pakistan's top civilian award on Friday.
"For the sake of Aitezaz and all the countless children that have been taken before their time, somebody from the government needs to take a page out of Aitezaz's book and resist terrorists until they can no longer harm Pakistan," the Nation newspaper said in an editorial.
A Sunni militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, claimed responsibility for Monday's attack. Police told AFP that the students were the target of the attack.
Authorities still don’t know if the incident was connected to the Taliban, who have been waging attacks on schools as part of a campaign against secular education in northwestern Pakistan, or sectarian violence, which is rife across the country.
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.