Islamabad, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Pakistani military inducted the first batch of female paratroopers into its ranks after they completed their training at a military complex in Peshawar earlier this week.
The Pakistani military issued a statement announcing that 24 female officers had successfully completed the paratrooper training course, lauding this as a “landmark achievement.”
Pakistani army chief of staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani congratulated all the female officers and their training staff on the successful completion of the course.
A ceremony was held at the Tarbela Ghazi Airbase where the 24 officers were awarded the Para Wings (Insignia) by Major-General Abid Rafique, commander of the Special Service Group.
A statement released by Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations revealed that Captain Sadia was the first female Pakistani officer to jump from the Mil MI-17 helicopter, while Captain Kiran Ashraf was named the best paratrooper of the batch of 24 female officers.
The intensive three-week course included challenging physical training, in addition to advanced paratrooper training regarding exiting the airplane, aerial descent, and landing techniques.
“The paratroopers were taught to control their parachutes while descending and to carry out emergency measures such as untwisting their rigging lines, taking the necessary action upon collision with another parachutist and landing in water,” Pakistani chief military spokesman Major-General Asim Saleem Bajwa said.
Speaking to Pakistan’s The Express Tribune, one of the newly graduated female paratroopers, Captain Sana Nasiri, said: “It was a unique experience for us…[we] stepped forward, proved our mettle and showed that we are not lagging behind anyone.”
Captain Hajra Khan stressed: “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 female officers have been given such a chance.”
Women began to play a more significant role in Pakistan’s armed forces during the era of former ruler General Pervez Musharraf. Women can now serve in all three branches of the Pakistani armed forces.
The graduation of the 24 female Pakistani officers represents the beginning of a new era in the Pakistani military. Female officers will no longer be restricted to the Army Medical Corps, but will be allowed to serve alongside their male counterparts on the battlefield.