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Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

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    Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

    The first female Pakistani pilots will be flying jets soon. This will be the first time in the history of PAF.
    Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

    By Zaffar Abbas
    BBC News, Islamabad

    The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) academy has been all-male for more than 55 years - but now it is going through major change. Women are now allowed to enrol on its aerospace engineering and fighter pilot programmes and are doing rather well.

    To the great surprise of many men, some of the female recruits will soon start flying jet-engine planes.

    Male cadets are having to come to terms with the fact that masculinity itself is no longer a condition for reaching this prestigious institute.

    Up till now they have done very well
    Air Vice Marshall Inam Ullah Khan
    There are 10 women in two batches in the flying wing of the academy. Many more are competing with men in the engineering and aerospace wing.

    These trailblazers may still be few in number, but many instructors and even some male cadets admit their presence is already being felt.

    'Lifelong dream'

    Until recently, most women in this conservative Muslim society would more likely have imagined marrying a dashing fighter pilot than being encouraged to become one.

    "I always wanted to be a fighter pilot, and eventually with Allah's wish and the full support of my parents, I made it this far
    Cadet Saba Khan
    But this was not true for Saba Khan, one of four female cadets to make it through the gruelling first stages of training.

    Coming from an enlightened Pathan family in Quetta, capital of otherwise conservative Balochistan Province, Saba was initially inspired by one of her uncles who had been in the air force.

    And she says the first newspaper advertisement seeking female cadets was like a dream come true.

    "I always wanted to be a fighter pilot, and eventually with Allah's wish and the full support of my parents, I made it this far," she said.

    And Saba believes the first batch of women could provide much-needed inspiration for many other girls, who may follow suit.

    Beaming with excitement, another aviation cadet, Ambreen Gill, said it was impossible for her to explain how she felt when she flew a propeller plane.

    She said she hopes soon to fly the jets on her own, and perhaps at some stage even state-of-the-art combat aircraft like F-16s.


    The air force academy is still male-dominated, and it's not clear what the real feelings of the male cadets have been to the induction of women onto the fighter pilot programme.

    Officially, most have welcomed the move.

    But when one male cadet said the women should be shown compassion, female cadet Saman Ahmed was swift to say they were there to compete on equal terms.

    "We don't expect compassion, we don't get compassion, and we don't want compassion," she said.

    And this confidence is not without reason for Cadet Ahmed has already won praise in her engineering studies, beating both men and women.

    Her excellence is not confined to the classroom, either.

    During a rifle exercise, I watched as she shot all five bullets right in the bull's eye.


    Many senior air force officials point out that bringing women into armed forces combat units has been a difficult decision in many countries.

    In Pakistan the challenges of doing so were even bigger.

    It's not just about size or strength - cultural and religious matters were also to be taken into account.

    It's quite important that we maintain this level of segregation, mainly because we are a Muslim society
    Squadron leader Shazia Ahmed
    The head of the PAF academy, Air Vice Marshal Inam Ullah Khan, admits they had to take certain cultural sensitivities into account.

    But he says allowing women to enrol has been a good experience, and some of the female cadets have done better than expected.

    The academy maintains a degree of segregation between genders.

    Although women march should-to-shoulder with their male counterparts during early-morning parade, some parts of the training, particularly physical exercises, are carried out separately.

    "It's quite important that we maintain this level of segregation, mainly because we are a Muslim society," says squadron leader Shazia Ahmed.

    A psychologist by training, and in charge of the female cadets, she says "in some ways it also gives these girls the much required confidence before they take up the bigger challenges".

    But there is no compromise on standards - the women must achieve the same levels of performance as the men, or face being dropped from the programme.

    For the moment it seems the few who have joined the ranks are doing extremely well.

    And if that continues, when the current batch passes out in a year these cadets will become the first-ever women fighter pilots in Pakistan's history.

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2005/05/10 15:57:17 GMT

    Pakistan Zindabad

    Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

    This is awesome. The sheer determination of these women to break through the ranks of one of the highest demanding and male dominated professions, that too in a muslim country, is simply awe inspiring.

    God speed to them.
    "Before you visit Mecca it beckons to you, when you leave it behind, it calls to you forever."


      Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

      Which other countries around the world allow women as fighter jet pilots?

      p.s: This thread should be in culture forum.
      I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
      - Robert McCloskey


        Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

        Very good, well done to these women


          Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

          Very good. i am a feminist..


            Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

            A correction, she is second. First one is your actress Meera playing in Nazar.


              Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

              I think it is good, but I hope pilots don't just marry, get pregnant and bogged down in family after all their expensive training.

              Sorry to be pessimistic but I have seen a large number of Pakistani girls who get educated, get ahead in a career, only to have it cut short by the demands of our culture.


                Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

                ^ I know what you mean. but if they have come this far they should go further.


                  Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

                  very good news
                  Oh, everything's too damned expensive these days. This Bible cost 15 bucks! And talk about a preachy book! Everybody's a sinner! Except this guy.


                    Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

                    Over 3 years ago, a girl named Bisma Nasim was the one who moved all authorities over the country, including the then Air Chief ACM Mushaf Ali Mir along with General Pervez Musharraf, demanding induction of girls into the GDP branch of the PAF. Her passion for fighter flying was strong enough and she was heard in all quarters and eventually after many months of applications, letters, appeals and meetings and discussions at all levels, the decision was taken by the dynamic authorities and for the first time girls were inducted in both the GD(P) and Aeronautical Engineering branchces of the PAF in the 116th GD(P) and 62 Engineering Course at the Risalpur Academy and the second batch was inducted withe the 117th and 63rd courses respectively, six months later. But then after that eligibility for women was removed and remains such so far. Whether it will be introduced again is undecided. The first batch, the 116 will be passing out next year and the number of female aviation cadets is 10 from both courses combined. they have reached the first stage of becoming PAF pilots but many stages still remain. the one year of flight trainign left would determine a lot about their careers as aviators. Upon passing out, based on their aptituides and abilities the academy will decide who of them would be sent to the Fighter Conversion Unit in Mianwali and who to Chaklala for the Transport Conversion. That's how it happens with every batch of pilots that passes out every six months.
                    Keeping in view the tough and demanding nature of this profession, there's still a long way and many more tests to go for these women. Best luck to them.
                    There may be many social questions attached, leaving them aside for a while, let's see what comes of it.
                    Bisma Nasim had tough luck and unfortunately didnt make it to the CFT, due to non 20/20 vision. She's at the CAE doing well and proud wearing the blue shirt.
                    Luck to all!
                    Last edited by Haris; Jun 17, 2005, 03:55 AM.


                      Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

                      very nice news indeed..
                      Patta patta boota boota haal hamaara jaane hai
                      Jaane na jaane gul he na jaane, baagh to saara jaane hai


                        Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

                        Can women fly Jet Fighters? I mean, you don't see many around on bikes never mind the Jet Fighters!!! What if she broke her nail during a flight or she had a bad day with her hubby, has anyone thought of the consequences?


                          Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

                          well thats what the selection procedure does; select those who can.
                          there are many men too who are sensitive about various things, they dont make it into the academy in the first place.
                          and like a senior fighter pilot told me recently, "people who dont have the ability to leave everything out of the cockpit and give a 100 percent cant be fighter pilots. sure everyone has problems at the back of their minds, but people who cant leave all thoughts about their problems, homes, kids and stuff while in the cockpit, and cant control their thougts and concentration are not meant to fly fighter planes. thats why the selection procedures are such that we screen out those not suitable for this work through various stages of tests".


                            Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

                            all the best to the wing-ed girls..


                              Re: Pakistan's first women fighter pilots

                              Welcome back Mehrtaab