The world is witnessing the true spirit of feminine valor through the veracious portrayal of strong and effective role of Pakistani women in armed forces. Pakistan is the only Islamic country that has allowed women to be inducted in military and paramilitary organizations, not only in general ranks but specifically in higher ranks (officers). In the current decade, other Islamic countries have followed in the footsteps of Pakistan and taken initiatives to include women into their armed forces. Hence, Pakistan has truly laid the foundation and built the platform for women to exhibit their capabilities and bravery in the armed forces.
Since 2017, as many as 4,000 women are serving in the Military. In 1948, then First Lady, Begum Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan helped create women’s voluntary service, Women National Guard. The service was aimed to provide the Army with medical and logistical support. This led to the creation of the first women’s unit in the Army Medical Corps. The Pakistan Army Women National Guard was created in 1949 and Begum Ra’ana served as the guard’s first GOC and chief controller. In 2002, Maj Gen Shahida Malik became the first female general officer in the Army. The second woman to get promoted to a two-star rank was Maj Gen Shahida Badshah. In 2015, then Brigadier Nigar Johar became the first female officer to get a command post and in 2017, she became the Army’s third female major general and first Lieutenant General. The story of Lt Gen Nigar Johar has inspired millions around the world. International media has widely promoted and appreciated the courageous journey of Lt Gen Nigar Johar.
In 2015, Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar became the first female Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officer to embrace martyrdom. Marium Mukhtar has put forward a true example of bravery and valor. She has proved that courage transcends gender boundaries. From 2017 till now, many women have been inducted in Pakistan Army through Lady Cadet Course (LCC), Short Service Commission and Medical corps of Pakistan Armed Forces.
Since 2019, Pakistan Army has also started increasing the number of female officers serving in UN missions. The army has been fulfilling the UN quota of 15% female representation in peace missions since mid-2019. On January 31, 2020, the first ever Pakistani Female Engagement Team in any UN mission received UN medals for serving in the Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The team, later joined by another 17 female officers, on February 3, were deployed to South Kivu. The UN medal is awarded for participation in military and police operations for the United Nations. These missions include disaster relief, peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. Applauding the contingent’s performance during the peacekeeping mission, United States chief diplomat for South Asian affairs, Alice Wells stated that she was “inspired by Pakistani women serving with distinction in the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC.”
Pakistani women are standing resilient and breaking the stereotypical portrayal of themselves through their services in all walks of life including the armed forces. Hundreds of women are serving in the Police service combating street crimes and providing protection to citizens. Several women are also working in Pakistan Rangers and Border Patrol Police serving Pakistan with bravery. They are inspiring young girls who have come out of their traditional roles and prove themselves through their grit and boundless spirit.
By examining the roles and services of Pakistani women in armed forces, it is right to describe them as, ‘The Force of the Future’. Their motivation to join armed forces, their passion to serve the nation in uniform and their determination to break any hurdles in their path is matchless. Women in Pakistan Armed Forces are creating history of valor and bravery. They have become a symbol of true inspiration to young girls around the world. HH
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