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Women in Pakistan’s military


Feb 2, 2007
Monday, January 14, 2013 - In December 2006 female cadets from PMA for the first time assumed guard duties at the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam at Karachi. What was the military trying to convey? Considering that in july 2006 over 1300 women who were charged with minor crimes were already released from various prisons under a presidential ordinance by the military ruler, one could only assume that women were now being provided with more space and increased opportunities in a society where they were always marginalized.

2006 was also the year when women for the first time were enrolled in the military for assignments other than duties in medical setups/units. Back in 2006 all indications were that the military was planning to incorporate/induct women in the military on a large scale. But that did not happen. Why the military hesitated to go any further? Was it because the induction and emancipation of women in the military was only the personal ambition/agenda of a military ruler that ended with the end of his military rule? Were the powerful men dominated military as an institution not backing and supporting the idea of mass enrollment of women in the military?

So far it has been difficult for us to give the women their rightful place in our society but is it as difficult to give them their due place in the military as well? Most women in the military are today employed with the sole aim to treat the patients; out of almost 4000 female officers serving in the military 3000 are employed in the AFNS(Armed Forces Nursing Services). Over 600 are female doctors in the AMC(Army Medical Corps). The remaining women serve as female officers on non combatant roles in the ISPR, Signals and Engineering departments of the military.

The odd female fighter pilots commissioned by the Air force Academy in Risalpur are no match to over 70 combat female fighter pilots in service in US Air force. Are women in Pakistan less capable of adopting the manly qualities of a soldier? Can women in Armed Forces of Pakistan be even classified as soldiers considering the overwhelming majority of them are prevented as a state policy from performing active/combat related duties?

Purdah cannot be the social constraint that prevents the large scale employment of women in military. If 4000 can serve in the military so can 40000 under the existing set of conditions and rules. All this increase intake of women in the military would mean that many less men in the service. Will this be acceptable to the military? An all men army, a masculine army became a thing of the past with the introduction of smart weapons utilized in the C4 I environment dominated by the information warfare. The leading armies of the world utilized the changing battlefield environment to induct more and more female combatants in their armies. There are over 214000 women serving in the US military today. A total of 280000 US women served in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade. 144 of them died and 600 of them were injured while serving there. These women proved that women can actually have more than feminine qualities. They could actually be groomed and trained to fight. Fight and die for their countries as well.

The problem is not that the women are not dying in Pakistan. Those forced into marriages against their liking, victims of acid throwing, child marriages and even those who are married to Quran; most are sidelined to live abnormal lives. There are others who are routinely raped, killed and some are even murdered in the name of honour .Does it hurt when women in Pakistan die in such situations? If it does than it should hurt less when those who volunteer to serve their nation lay down their lives for the sake of their country. Why is it that only the men are allowed to harbor ambitions such as serving and dying for their country? Is it not only fair to provide the women also with such opportunities where they are encouraged to serve their countries putting their lives at stake as well?

Arguably women are more capable, perhaps even more efficient and effective to perform a range of military related duties. They can be trained to perform duties on most administrative/ static installations like the Station Headquarters that are there in all military cantonments. They can also be employed in ‘female alone’ air defence units considering Pakistan military deploys large number of air defence units not only to counter Indian air superiority but also to protect and safeguard our strike corps strategic assets. Women can also be trained to plan and execute the military’s logistics and thus can be posted in all the logistic headquarters as well.

If military can overcome its gender subordination mindset it might as well than find reasons to induct increased number of women in the armed forces. To do that it will have to forgo the recruitment conditions of women being post graduates and over 28 years old and train them for full two years instead of six months training that they are currently put through. If nothing else we should take the lead from US that just seven months ago opened up to 14000 combat related jobs for the women .

Lastly what is it that the all men army has achieved for us that the women can’t; by recruiting more women in the military the state may move one step forward to end gender subordination. This may also be one strong measure to effectively respond to the world economic forum ‘Global Gender Gap Report of 2012 that ranked Chad, Pakistan and Yemen as the worst of all the countries as far as gender gap is concerned. Army once again may lead the way for if Pakistan is to achieve glory and respect in the community of nations than its women must be allowed to participate in all functions of the state.—The writer, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, is research scholar at International Affairs Dept of Karachi University

Women in Pakistan’s military

Abu Zolfiqar

Rest in Peace
Feb 12, 2009
Pakistan’s female rangers: Life on the base | Pakistan | DAWN.COM

By Sara Faruqi
Posted on: 6:20 pm | March 25, 2013
Since the inception of Pakistan, women have been a part of the military service. Whether it has been a part in the healthcare or logistics sector or more recently in combat units and as fighter pilots, women have played a role.

In 2008 the Punjab Rangers announced their intentions to recruit women. A Rangers official, who did not want to be identified, remarked this move was made by then President, Pervez Musharraf, as part of his “enlightened moderation” agenda. However, since the first batch of female rangers were inducted; there have been no more recruiting calls. Of the 30 or so female rangers living on base at the Punjab Rangers headquarters, the majority of them were still on the Sepoy ranking. In the last five years, only a handful have been promoted to the Sub-inspector position. The duties these women perform vary from protocol for female VIPs, duty at the Wagah and Ganda Singh Border and administrative work. “One wonders why there has been no recruitment since 2008,” remarked the same officer.

He may be right, the role of these female Rangers is seen by many as mostly symbolic, of the original 60 or so recruited a bit more than half have remained. The latest recruitment for Rangers in Pakistan was by the Sindh Rangers looking for nurses, midwives and ayahs.
Although their training is as aggressive as their male counterparts, the Punjab female rangers don’t seem to have much more to do. All the women interviewed for this video seemed happy and well taken care of – they didn’t have any complaints.

However, is there more that these women can do, other than check post duty? Incidents in the last five years would suggest that out of the 420,000 strong paramilitary forces, there is a need to have women serving in frontline duty. They are especially needed in rescue operations such as the 2008 earthquake or the 2010 and 2011 floods or even in crisis situations like the Lal Masjid operation and other scenarios where women are involved.
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That Guy

Mar 29, 2013
I think it's more to do with the economy than anything else. The Pakistani army just doesn't have the money to recruit any more people, which is why we're seeing the army try to stream line itself, and simply maintain the assets that it does have.

It's nothing to do with this idea that the PA doesn't want women in the PA, clearly there is a need, and the PA has previously multiple times made it's intentions clear that women were needed in front line combat units more and more, because they need to at the very least close as much of the gap between the Indian army and the Pakistani army, in terms of numbers, as possible. They can't right now though, with the economy being as weak as it clearly is.

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