In a landmark achievement, the country’s first group of female paratroopers has completed its training at Para Training School Peshawar and the participants been given their wings. A statement was later issued by the military, saying that female officers in the army would now take part in combat along with men. It must be noted that just a few years ago, in 2007, seven women, for the first time in Pakistan’s history, graduated as fighter pilots. Previously, women had, for the most part, been restricted to the army’s medical corps, along with positions in the signals, communications, computers, education and legal wings of the military.
These are all, of course, laudable achievements. These women have broken barriers and through sheer stint of courage, risen to become equal partners in areas, which traditionally have been dominated by men. Having women in the military is a comparatively recent phenomenon for the West as well, and indeed, many countries are still smoothing over the cracks that have come with this development. The Pakistan military must be given due credit for this move, which will open the doors to integrate women in a previously all-male domain, with women breaking out of their cultural and social moulds and sending out a clear message that no sector should keep them out.
It is a matter of great pride for Pakistan that something like this has been achieved here. However, it must be remembered that this is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, as the numbers also indicate. Given that the ratio of men to women is just slightly higher in the country, this is part of the initial steps that Pakistan has taken to give equal opportunity to almost half our population, and is another small milestone in opening up yet another field for it. Indeed, the careers of these pioneering women in the Pakistan Army should be watched, their achievements noted, as well as any factors hindering their success, so we may eventually remove all impediments.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2013.
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