GILGIT: “So what if I don’t belong to a rich family, I will get an education and become the governor of Gilgit-Baltistan in the future,” said Amina, a sixth-grader.
Dr Shama Khalid’s appointment as Governor Gilgit-Baltistan has motivated people in the region, especially women, to pursue education and hope for a better future.
Khalid was appointed Governor on March 22, 2010, and is Pakistan’s first and only female governor. The position of ‘Governor Gilgit-Baltistan’ was last held by Ghandara Singh before partition.
Young Amina’s parents are not the only ones who have realised the worth of a woman’s education through this historic appointment. The recent Attabad lake tragedy illustrates the growing importance of education in the region, as many displaced people are upset by the discontinuity in their children’s education.
“We are not worried because we have lost our land, we are worried because our children’s schools are submerged and their education has been disturbed,” a woman in Shishkat told journalists a few days ago.
Recently, a number of people have also left their villages and settled in Gilgit to provide their children with better education.
“I shifted to Gilgit because it has good educational institutions and I want my children to get quality education,” said Hazif, a government officer who has now settled in Gilgit.
He said that after Shama Khalid was appointed governor, he also wants his daughters to become role model for others.
Others feel the same way. “I have four daughters and they are all educated,” said Shama, a schoolteacher. She said people in Gilgit are now convinced that education for women is more important than education for men.
Khalid’s appointment was hinted at by President Zardari when he was on a tour to Naudero early this year. He had publicly announced that a ‘sister’ of Benazir Bhutto was going to be governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, shocking male contenders vying for the position.
Later, media broke the news that a prominent banker in Gilgit-Baltistan, Sher Jehan Mir, was the favoured candidate, but Khalid’s appointment proved these rumours wrong.
Her selection was a departure from the norm in a society that is largely dominated by men.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 14th, 2010.