ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s first group of female paratroopers completed their training on Sunday, the military announced, hailing it as a ‘landmark achievement’ for the country.
After basic airborne training, the new paratroopers completed their first jump on Sunday and were given their ‘wings’ by the commander of Special Services Group (SSG), Major General Abid Rafique, according to a statement issued by the military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
“It was a unique experience for us … [we] stepped forward, proved our mettle and showed that we are not lagging behind anyone,” said Captain Sana Nasiri, one of the paratroopers who completed their first jump.
The paratroopers learnt their skills, which included exit, flight and landing techniques, at a rigorous three-week training course at Para Training School, Peshawar.
“It is a matter of pride and honour for me to be a part of this pioneer course … this is the first time in the history of Pakistan Army that lady officers have been given such a chance,” another paratrooper Captain Hajra Khan told The Express Tribune.
The female paratroopers received a standing ovation after successfully touching down at Tarbela. Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani congratulated the lady officers on completing their training and lauded their high morale. Captain Kiran Ashraf was declared the best paratrooper of the batch, according to the ISPR statement, while Captain Sadia became the first woman officer to jump from the Mi-17 helicopter. The others followed.
“In this hot weather, it was very courageous of lady officers to meet the tough demands of the course and complete it successfully. They have made history,” a military spokesperson told The Express Tribune.
“From now on, lady officers will not be restricted to the Army Medical Corps ... They will be able to serve alongside men in active combat on the battlefield,” he added.
According to the spokesperson, a group of 30 women was first inducted into the armed forces in 2006. These women were employed in the medical, signals, communications, computers, education and legal wings of the military.
Since then, he added, the number has increased and lady officers are being trained for combat.
In 2006, seven women broke into one of Pakistan’s most exclusive male clubs to graduate as fighter pilots as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.