ORMARA: Zakia Jamali always had her eyes set on a career in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). But when her first career option shut its door on her, it didn’t kill her dream; she went on to serve her country by joining the Pakistan Navy (PN) as a sub-lieutenant in the education branch. It was all about serving in the Forces for Jamali and she managed to do that in one way or another.
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As a child the 28-year-old had dreamed of joining the forces and serving her country. “I applied to join the PAF after completing my FSc because a job in the forces has always fascinated me, but unfortunately I was turned down,” says Jamali. She was rejected because of her short stature.
After completing her schooling in Usta Muhammad, Jaffarabad district, Jamali took up teaching at a local government school. Despite graduating with a gold medal from the University of Balochistan, Jamali always feared her Masters in Urdu degree would be her undoing when it came to pursuing a career in the PAF or the PN.
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“When I was enrolled for my masters in Urdu, I thought all doors to join the PAF or the PN would close on me,” says Jamali, adding that applicants with a Master of Science degree always have the edge when it comes to the PAF hiring criterion.
But destiny had other plans for Jamali. In 2012 she came across a newspaper advertisement put up by the PN for induction in the education branch and Jamali found herself to be the perfect match; the educational requirements included a Masters in Urdu. “I was so happy when I found out that I was eligible and I could finally contribute in some way,” she shares.
After a rigorous selection process, including an IQ test, medical exam and several other tests, Jamali was cleared by the Inter Services Selection Board (ISSB) and landed a job in the administration department at the Cadet College in Ormara after six months on January 7, 2013. She then underwent a six-month long military training programme at the Pakistan Naval Academy in Karachi along with a three-month long training in administrative duties.
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“At first when I got inducted, many locals and family members were of the view that it would not be easy for a female to do military training,” shares Jamali, who also teaches at the college in her spare time. But she didn’t let any of this discourage her. Jamali also speaks about the personal sacrifices she has had to make to pursue her childhood dream.
Life in Ormara, away from family, is tough, she says, but this is the price she is willing to pay. “I feel happy when girls see me as a role model and ask me about the application process and express their desire to join the Navy and serve their country,” she adds. Jamali readily encourages females across Balochistan to follow in her footsteps. “Serving in the Force is a matter of pride for me, whereby I can contribute my bit for the betterment of my country.”