PESHAWAR -- Upcoming nuptials and dreams of a long and happy life did not stop a brave young police constable from giving his life in order to stop a suicide bombing September 2 on the Mardan District courts.
Junaid Khan, 24, who joined the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Police in 2012, prevented a suicide bomber from hitting his target and causing mass casualties in the courts.
Junaid chased down the suicide bomber, who had broken through a security cordon.
Though seriously injured by a hand grenade, Junaid struggled with the bomber and opened fire on him. The bullet set off the bomber's suicide vest, killing Junaid as well.
"Though 13 people died, including three policemen, the casualties would have been enormous if the attacker had succeeded in reaching his assigned target," said Mardan Deputy Inspector General of Police Ejaz Khan.
"Constable Junaid has added another feather to the cap of KP Police, who have rendered matchless sacrifices in our country's ongoing fight against terrorism," he told Pakistan Forward.
"He is the pride of the whole country," Ejaz said. "He gave a strong message ... that we as a nation are ready to render every kind of sacrifice for the cause of our motherland and its people."
Junaid could have saved himself, but he put himself in extreme danger, Ejaz said.
"This is the spirit that will enable us to emerge triumphant in our war against terrorism," Ejaz said.
During a visit that day to the site of the bombing, KP Inspector General of Police Nasir Durrani said he was proud of the courage of KP Police.
"When I visited the hospital to inquire about the health of the injured, they all praised the bravery of the police," he told reporters September 2.
"The history of KP Police is replete with the sacrifices of our officers who choose death over life to stop terrorists," he said.
Local attorney Haider Ali, an eyewitness, also hailed the courage of police officers on duty that day. If the suicide bomber had reached his target, casualties would have been far greater, Ali said.
"The policemen on duty bravely confronted the suicide bomber, and Junaid expressed even more courage by chasing him and opening fire," Ali told reporters after the explosion. "It caused the explosive vest to go off."
Junaid's family is grieving but proud of his martyrdom.
His "untimely death ... pushed us into extreme grief and sorrow but lets us raise our heads in pride," Lal Badshah, the uncle who raised Junaid as a son, said.
"Junaid was an infant when his mother died in Charsadda, so my wife, who was his father's sister, brought him to our home in Toru village in Mardan," he told Pakistan Forward.
"We treated him like our son," Lal Badshah said tearfully. "He regarded us as his parents."
"I am proud of my son because he sacrificed his life for humanity," he said.
"Our son showed no cowardice ... and fought eye to eye with the terrorist," he added, saying that his wife feels the same grief and pride.
Junaid gave up his dreams of a future with his fiancee.
"Junaid was busy ... planning his wedding, which was scheduled for the end of September," his brother Farooqullah, an assistant sub-inspector of KP Police, said.
"A few days before the Mardan suicide attack, we went to a jewellery shop and placed his order," he said.
"All his desires went to the grave along with Junaid," Farooqullah said. "He ... embraced death to save his countrymen."
"I am proud of my brother's valour," he said. "I will emulate his courage and spirit in fighting terrorists."
What do you think of Iran's ongoing recruitment of Pakistani Shias to fight in Syria and elsewhere?