The passing-out ceremony for 94 officers, including seven women, took place on Monday at the Pakistan Naval Academy. The women will not, however, be taking part in combat.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir addressed the newly commissioned officers. He lauded the participation of women in the armed forces and said that the creation of a fourth batch of women officers not only signified the self assurance of Pakistani women in their abilities, but also their will to step into the seafaring profession — once considered exclusively the domain of men. The Commandant Gold Medal was given to Cadet Beenish Zaidi.
Women officers of the Pakistan Navy do not do duty on warships since they have no combat roles in the armed forces. The women officers who pass out from the naval academy usually join the institution’s information and technology department, supply and logistics, education and public relations. The women doctors who join the navy are usually either recruited from the Army Medical College after completing five years of studying medicine there or are foreign graduates who are directly commissioned into the force as lieutenants.
According to a handout issued by the Pakistan Navy, Admiral Bashir didn’t specifically mention the recent PNS Mehran attack. However, he did say that Pakistan today was beset by numerous challenges.
The scourge of terrorism continues to plague our national efforts towards becoming a progressive and prosperous nation. He was convinced that the nation would surmount the challenge and find its rightful place in the comity of nations.
Bashir said modern weaponry alone did not guarantee success — professional skills and the undeterred will to accomplish the task against all odds were also important.
Earlier, Commandant Pakistan Naval Academy Commodore Ayaz Ahmed Nasir said that the commissioning term included six officers from Palestine and eight from Saudi Arabia along with 32 Short Service Commissioned officers. Palestine does not have a full-fledged navy force like the Pakistan Navy. However, it does have a small fleet of a few boats and in their courses at the naval academy, they are given basic training. The Pakistan Naval Academy, which was established in 1971, has since its inception trained over 2,000 personnel from other countries, including Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Qatar and Bahrain.
At the end of the ceremony, prizes were awarded. Midshipman Zeeshan Javed was the recipient of the Sword of Honour for best performance.
The Academy’s Dirk was taken away by Midshipman Saad Sohail Malik. For best all-round performance, the Quaid-e-Azam Gold Medal was awarded to Lt. M. Wahab Usama and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gold Medal went to a proud Cadet Mohsin Saeed. Cadet Tharawat JH Jamalan from Palestine received the CNS Gold Medal and was declared the best all-round allied cadet.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2011.
A slideshow of pictures from the passing out parade can be seen here.