ASP Suhai Aziz Talpur, the first woman from lower Sindh to join the police at this rank, was once shunned by her relatives. And only because her parents thought she deserved to be educated.
"When my parents decided to enroll me at a school, most of our relatives started taunting my family. So much so, that my family had to leave our village and move to a nearby town," she recalled. "But the moment I cleared my Central Superior Services (CSS) exams and was told that I'd be joining the police department as an assistant superintendant police (ASP), the same people started approaching me by claiming to be my long-lost relatives. This is the power of education and being a female, I am proud to have this power."
At the age of 25, Suhai will be the first woman from lower Sindh [Thatta, Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tharparkar districts] to join the police in November. "My first preference was district management group and the police force was second. My percentage in the exams, however, qualifies me to join the police force. I know the uniform has its own power and I will try my best to use it for good."
Suhai belongs to a lower middle class family of Bhai Khan Talpur village in Tando Muhammad Khan district. Her father Aziz Talpur, a political activist and writer, always dreamt big for his daughter. "My relatives cut off ties with me because I wanted Suhai to study as they were only in favour of religious education," Aziz told The Express Tribune. "But I vowed to provide my daughter quality education. Now I know my efforts were successful."
Suhai started her primary education at a private school in Tando Muhammad Khan and joined Bahria Foundation for her intermediate studies.
Her educational path then led her to pursue BCom from the Zubaida Girls College, Hyderabad. "My family wanted me to become a chartered accountant but I found the job to be very dull as it had no social value," she said. "That is when I appeared for CSS and cleared it in first attempt."
She credited her success to hard work and her upbringing. "My parents are nationalists. As a child, they used to emphasise that I memorise Sindhi poetry. This developed my interest in literature and history, leading me to secure top marks in both the subjects in the CSS exams."
Although small in number, female officers have managed to make it to the top on their own.
Earlier, only two women in Sindh cleared the CSS and were working in the police department on senior posts - ASP Irum Awan and Shehla Qureshi.
Awan was the first female ASP to be posted in Ghotki, a district known for tribal clashes and dacoit culture. "I worked hard to stop honour killings as I could understand the plight of the victims," she said.
Three other female officers enjoy senior positions but they joined through the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) or were political appointees. Naseem Ara Panhwar, from Mirpurkhas, serves as the SSP in the driving licence branch. She was appointed in 1995 when the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government had directly recruited DSPs in the police through the SPSC. "It's a tough but appealing job," she said. "More young and vibrant women should come forward because not only do they have equal potential as their male counterparts but they would also be in a better position to solve women's issues."
SP Traffic Jalees Fatima and Establishment ADIG Noushaba Kausar are two other female officers who have been given high ranks in the department.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2013.