From Fragility to Immaculate Whites

Shakespeare famously said that all the world’s a stage and all the men and women are merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts — so do I. 
My name is Commander Farah Sadia TI(M) Pakistan Navy (PN), born as the first child in a military family. My father (late) Lt Col Safdar Ali was from Artillery Regiment and later joined the Army Air Defence and raised 19 SP (Self Propelled) Regiment. 
We are five siblings including my two brothers and two sisters. I being the member of a military family had to accompany my father during his various postings in Pakistan and abroad and got the opportunity to see different cultures and people.  Fair nurturing environment this young girl found at home and schools. My initial education is spread over different cities of Pakistan including Matriculation from Malir Cantt, F.Sc from Rawalpindi, B.Sc from Quetta and finally my Masters from Islamabad. 
As a child I always cherished my father as my hero.  He always valued Pakistan and its armed forces above everything in life. So from my childhood I felt charmed and fascinated by the glamour of the uniform and deeply respected the disciplined lifestyle of the men in uniform. This childhood love and admiration for the Armed Forces of Pakistan brought me to immaculate Whites
Till mid-90s females could only apply in Pakistan Army as a doctor in Army Medical Corps (AMC). No females were inducted in Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force. This was very disappointing for me. In 1996, I completed my Masters in Statistics from Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad. One day, I saw an advertisement in a newspaper indicating a requirement for induction in Pakistan Navy as Statistician, I can not explain how happy I was. It seemed that my dream had come true. In fact, for me serving in the Armed Forces is not a job; it is a way of life; planned, disciplined and thrilling, etc. After discussing this with my parents, who always encouraged me and supported me to take tough decisions, I finally applied for Pakistan Navy with all my curiosity and motivation, and later went on with the course of selection including ISSB, medical fitness and then final interview at Naval Headquarters (NHQ), Islamabad. 

My dream ultimately came true when I set foot in PNS BAHADUR for initial training as a commissioned officer in the pioneer female batch.  I joined Pakistan Navy's Special Branch as a Statistician on August 10, 1997. I received my basic training at different PN schools like PNS BAHADUR, PNS JAUHAR, PNS KARSAZ and PNS RAHNUMA. I stood 2nd in my course. The end of Naval orientation marked the start of professional training in statistical requirements in PNS SHIFA where I also got the opportunity to do "On Job Training" from the Agha Khan Hospital in the field of "Bio-statistics" i.e., the branch of statistics which deals with medicine. My first posting was at PNS SHIFA Karachi in January 1998. After completing tenure of thirteen months, I was posted to PNS HAFEEZ Islamabad in February 1999. My tenure at PNS HAFEEZ spanned over 7 years. 
During my Naval Service I did different duties as well as professional courses, which also include  PN Staff Course. I was from the first batch of female officers who had done this course as a regular candidate. I also hold MS degree in War Studies (Maritime). After completing my Staff Course I was posted to PNS HAFEEZ in July 2013 and after nine months further to Naval Headquarters, Islamabad.  I am the first female officer promoted to the rank of Commander. Apart from my role in professional affairs I have also participated in different sports and won several medals and prizes in shooting and badminton championships at PN level. 
On August 14, 2017, I was awarded with Chief of the Naval Staff Letter of Commendation for my professional accomplishments. On March 23, 2018, President of Pakistan awarded me with Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Military).  
Serving in PN is one of the most dignified ways to lead life and serve the nation with utmost pride and honor. The life in Navy is both at sea and on land. The sea has a magic of vastness and openness. Guarding Pakistan’s water frontiers is a unique honour bestowed upon men and women of Navy. The Whites symbolizes courage, discipline and commitment to the country. We mostly live in waters but our role is of equal significance along coastal cities and towns of Pakistan. Pakistan Navy’s men and women have served the nation during all periods of war and peace; in extreme hours of natural calamities, in education, sports and other fields. Serving Pakistan in Whites has been a unique part of my life; rather Whites is the life itself, and I feel blessed by the Almighty for this opportunity.   
My advice to young generation is that whatever you do in your life, always do it with full sincerity and believe in the power of hard work. Never lose heart because of failures. Success is always waiting for those who never give up. The defence, security and prosperity of the future lies in your hands. Pakistan is our motherland and we must protect each and every inch of Pakistan’s territory to safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.


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