Pickled Politics






Family

Comrades

In-laws







Site Meter

Pakistani women fly high


by Fe'reeha on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:08 pm    

Saba, Nadia, Marium and Saira are ordinary Muslim names. But the name holders have become the most remarkable women by being the first female fighter pilots in the 58-year-history of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

On 30th of March, as thousands watched the annual grand parade in Risalpur, the four young women took the military oath. They were dressed in the same ocean blue uniform as their male colleagues, except for a longer shirt over their trousers, and one wearing a headscarf.

The image alone will be enough to bring tears of joys into the eyes of the Pakistani women who have been involved in the struggle of equal opportunities since long. Women like Aasma Jehangir and Bilqis Edhi.

The Airforce grounds always belonged to the men, and in the PAF world, so did the skies! Up until now at least! But I am surprised and somewhat disappointed by the luke warm response given by the media to the event. In Pakistan, this is indeed a giant step for womankind.

Ahmed Deedat, a Muslim scholar said in one of his speeches: “The tragedy of the Muslim ummah is that the whole world is fighting with both the hands, (men and women), while we are fighting with only one…we are bound to lose.”

True to his words, Pakistan remains at large a male dominated society where the concept of a woman pilot is more scornful than flying horses. In major cities, there are only 10% women car drivers, out of which none would get a professional job in the transport sector.

In the male dominated world of a nation which has an appallingly high rate of illiteracy and unemployment, a working woman is still considered a threat. While Pakistan successfully granted licence and protection to the women of the famous red light area in Lahore, it failed to give job security to women in major fields like engineering, mechanics and IT.

Pakistan armed forces, like most of the other professions in the country, remained unwelcoming to women for a long time. After a struggle of many years, women joined in as doctors and nurses. Seven years ago, psychologists and educationalists were also “given permission” to join the air force. It took Pakistan 58 years to produce female fighter pilots.

Violence against women is still rife and usually goes unpunished. Women’s literacy is only 35% compared with 62% for men despite the former doing better in matriculation and degree exams. The only “respectable” professions for women at large in the middle class are medicine and teaching. To date, extreme exploitation of women takes place in professions like nursing, air hospitality, acting, modelling and law.

Pakistan’s top model Iruj who opted out of taking part in an international beauty pageant in Canada in 1997 due to the fear of a strong backlash from extremists, said: “I have always been and always will be a commodity, nothing real. So we go around talking about women freedom, the truth is, in people’s eyes, I am a high profile prostitute.”

Iruj, a graduate from Pakistan’s prestigious art school Indus Valley, questioned male dominance in the society through an art work she exhibited in 1999. “Everyone hated it, even women, because it had a naked male organ. Nobody can accept this from a nice Pakistani girl; I was labelled as sacrilegious there and then. Men would love to sleep with me, but no one would want to marry me.”

Shazia Khan, 25, a nurse in a prestigious private hospital in Pakistan agrees with Iruj. “The social pressure indeed scares away women from studying or working. People complain Pakistani nurses and air hostesses are rude. But if we smile and become friendly, men get the wrong message.”

When President Musharraf amended the constitution of Pakistan parliament during the last elections, making women participation compulsory in every political party, the prominent and respected scholar of Pakistan Dr Israr Ahmed had roared in anger in several interviews.

According to him, this was a step towards the world of the devil, where women were told to go out of the houses instead of staying inside the four walls of the house, where they belonged. Imagine his reaction now, when he is told that women are not just outside their homes. But that they are outside flying!

NDTV story.



  |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Digg this   |   Filed under: South Asia, Pakistan, Sex equality




34 Comments   |  


  1. raz — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:30 pm  

    LOL India can’t even train its men to fly fighter planes without crashing (IAF has one of the worst crash rates in the world) and meanwhile Pakistan has moved onto training its women :)

    Ok patriotic flames aside :)

    Atcually I posted on this earlier. Excellent news, and a slap in the face of all fundamentalist bigots. These brave women will no doubt prove their worth in the defence of Pakistan. Who knows, one day these women may follow in the tradition of great Pakistani fighter aces such as M M Alam. It’s also worth noting that Pakistan has two female 2 star generals: Major-General Shahida Badshah and Maj-gen Shahida Malik. If I’m not mistaken no Western military apart from the USA has such high ranking female soldiers. Also see:

    Pakistani female anti terrorist forces.

    Pakistani female sky marshals:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2144140.stm

    Let’s hope these brave ladies can be role models for other women in the subcontinent. No-one can stand in the way of progress, especially not mad mullahs.

  2. raz — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:41 pm  

    http://www.pafcombat.com/

    An excellent resource on the brave men (and now women :) ) of the PAF.

  3. Vikrant — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:49 pm  

    IAF has one of the worst crash rates in the world

    Unless you havent been paying attention those crashes relate to older MIG 21 planes, and IAF is much bigger than PAF and has more modern fighters. Nor does IAF havent worst crash rate in the world (considering their size). So raz dont get me started on how IAF has decimated PAF in past. On and on women in airforce is a good thing. That brings me to question, How many women pilots are there in RAF?

  4. raz — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:49 pm  

    Also here’s an insightful editorial from the Daily Times which highlights both the positive and negative issues raised by this development.

    The good:

    “This is an important development and we congratulate the four young women who have broken new ground. But this also forces us to look at the positive and negative sides of our society. First the plus: these women have shown that Pakistani women, given a chance, can be as enterprising as men; two, that society can still offer some opportunities to its female population in areas traditionally considered male bastions means Pakistan retains its complexity and its resilience despite attempts by some quarters, even the state itself, to turn it into a rightwing, rigid, singular monolith. This is why Pakistan retains its colour and can never behave like, for instance, Afghanistan”

    The bad:

    “On the minus side, we have, in the same country, people breathing in different centuries. On the one hand we now have female fighter pilots while on the other we have the curse of karo-kari and vani and other such abominable anti-women practices. Even in urban centres like Lahore and Karachi, and among educated families, women are still not emancipated enough to marry of their own choice and those who do run the risk of being alienated from kith and kin or killed. This lopsidedness is a matter of grave concern and has invited much comment. Still, on balance, we have a society that has the potential and the human resource to make Pakistan a modern front-ranking nation”

    So, cause for optimism but also plenty of work to do.

  5. Vikrant — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:52 pm  

    OTOH PTV muted Indian anthem whenever it was played in Commonwealth medals ceremonies. Height of paranoia.

  6. raz — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:53 pm  

    IAF - Indians against flying :)

    Dunno about RAF, but US Air Force has quite a few female pilots who flew combat missions in Iraq war. Israeli Air Force has just started to train female pilots too.

  7. Joolz — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:54 pm  

    [[[[Ahmed Deedat, a Muslim scholar said in one of his speeches: “The tragedy of the Muslim ummah is that the whole world is fighting with both the hands, (men and women), while we are fighting with only one…we are bound to lose.”]]]]

    Unfortune choise of metaphor by the Muslims scholar - it seems that Islamic scholarship is steeped in the idea of war and fighting - most o fthe rest of the world see themselves as just living and getting on with life - this Muslim scholar views it as being engaged in some kind of fight - I believe that this is quite telling about a mindset that views the world in antagonistic and aggressive terms!

  8. Zak — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:55 pm  

    Musharraf for all his flaws (and boy he has many) has done a lot for female representation at every level of power.

  9. Vikrant — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:56 pm  

    Raz,

    PAF == Poormans Air Force

    Has it even bought a plane since 1990. Wait nother 10 years and Americans may release you F-16’s

  10. Kagemusha — on 3rd April, 2006 at 11:58 pm  

    raz you are obsessed with India - do you have some kind of insecurity complex? The first comment you made on this thread was about India, when the article did not even mention India, and you have not shut up about it since. Serious case of inferiority complex, I think. give it up.

  11. Vikrant — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:00 am  

    Knowing raz the way he is, i guess its pretty hard for him not to pass a snide remark at India once in a while.

    P.S Yes raz i am a filthy hypocrite.

  12. Vikrant — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:00 am  

    Raz for one refuses to accept India’s bonafides as a rising economic power.

  13. raz — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:01 am  

    Who the fuck are you kagemusha? Did you have a sense of humour failure? Miss the smilies? Seems like even a bit of light hearted ribbing is too much for some losers to bear :)

  14. Kagemusha — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:10 am  

    raz, see there you are, I just make a point and you start getting aggressive and swearing, you really are obsessed with India and have some kind of inferiority complex, I have been lurking here for a while but reading the posts and you do suffer from a big case of inferiority. The very first thing you write on a post about Pakistan is something about India, even when India has nothing to do with the topic and then someone comes along and says this and you start getting aggressive and start swearing - it is some kind of overcompensation I guess, inferiority complex.

  15. Sunny — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:21 am  

    Lol, Raz I was going to say that while I know dig about India was a jokey comment, as Vikrant has made in the past - others may take it more seriously.

    Lo and behold.

    Anyway, can we just appreciate the achievement of women now please instead of having a silly cussing match again? I will delete comments otherwise.

  16. Sunny — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:24 am  

    The irony of ironies that while we have an article here written about India - Pak rivalry messing up Wikipedia, discussions on this blog themselves get wrecked by the same!
    Sheesh…

  17. Vikrant — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:25 am  

    Well it may sound silly but does Bangladesh have an airforce?

  18. Vikrant — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:26 am  

    The irony of ironies that while we have an article here written about India - Pak rivalry messing up Wikipedia, discussions on this blog themselves get wrecked by the same!
    Sheesh…

    One of these days i feel like setting up a special Indo-Pak flamewar forum for the fun of it.

  19. raz — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:29 am  

    “Lo and behold”

    Indeed :)

    Seriously, read the article I posted in reply 4. It makes some very good points - not least :

    “we have, in the same country, people breathing in different centuries”

    This applies to so many issues in the subcontinent., but especially women’s rights. Funny how India, Pakistan and Bangladesh can all boast female leaders and yet so much backwardness towards women at the same time.

  20. raz — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:31 am  

    “The irony of ironies that while we have an article here written about India - Pak rivalry messing up Wikipedia, discussions on this blog themselves get wrecked by the same!”

    What’s even funnier is that Vikrant wrote the article and I was the first person to compliment him on it :) And yet a few days later…….

    “One of these days i feel like setting up a special Indo-Pak flamewar forum for the fun of it.”

    I’M IN :)

  21. lost — on 4th April, 2006 at 2:25 am  

    Haven’t read all your comments and don’t need to.

    Just to congratulate Pakistan for its achievement keep it up. Let us see more and more women joing public and corporate houses in Pakistan.

    Lead the way Pak, you will be rewarded.

  22. Justforfun — on 4th April, 2006 at 9:14 am  

    Just a few links to even up the balance. Google for “Cope India 2004″ & ..2005 & …6 for the latest on the IAF and USAAF joint excercises.

    here is one of many links..
    http://users.senet.com.au/~wingman/cope.html

    A nice article for the people who like pics and details but it get interesting towards the end .. and I selectively quote ;-) without any balance :-)

    “Not long had the exercises finished when the media in both countries painted the exercises as a ‘rude shock’ for the USAF and the Washington establishment. According to respected media reports, Indian pilots outflew the Americans, right through the exercise. “On the first day all four American planes were shot down. Never once did the Indians come off second”. According to United States media, the F-15C’s were defeated more than 90 percent of the time in direct combat exercises against the IAF. It should be noted that the IAF did not field its newest “near fifth-generation” Sukhoi-30MKI air-dominance fighters and if it did so, the results may have been even more favourable to the IAF.”

    And here is one for women in the India who have flown.
    http://users.senet.com.au/~wingman/airwomen.html

    Justforfun

  23. Natasha Ali — on 4th April, 2006 at 10:52 am  

    Thanks for posting this link of Indian pilots above as well.

    I salute all these women from the sub continent for breaking the age old mould of tradition.
    Isn’t it refreshing to see women in a new light, rather than the typecaste caricatures of soaps like “kyunke saas” and “kahanee ghar ghar ki”?

  24. Jai — on 4th April, 2006 at 11:30 am  

    =>”rather than the typecaste caricatures of soaps like “kyunke saas” and “kahanee ghar ghar ki”?”

    Oh good God, yes ;)

    Actually I think there recently was (is ?) an Indian television serial about the Indian Air Force, which also included the depiction of female officers. I can’t remember the name, unfortunately.

    There was a Bollywood film last year (or the year before, ahh failing memory) starring Jimmy Shergill and Shamita Shetty which also focused on the same topic, although apparently it wasn’t a big hit.

  25. Shaaz — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:47 pm  

    So what happens when these female pilots get married and their husbands or in-laws forbid them to fly anymore?

    Before Pakistan starts getting serious about training more female pilots, there needs to be a fundamental change in the mentality of the very society where these brave girls originate from.

    4-5 female pilots will not make any difference unless women are treated equally in every field.

  26. Shaaz — on 4th April, 2006 at 12:59 pm  

    I agree with Kagemusha, why does each time Pakistan achieves something it has to be compared with India? and each time India achieves something, Pakistanis bend over backwards to prove that the Indian successes arent as great as they are reported. Please stop this obsession with India.

    Pakistan will only gain economic success once it starts learing from its neighbours and accepting that India has achieved far more than Pakistan, considering the fact that India has a larger population to cater for, and both countries gained independence at the same time.

    Germans and the British were bitter enemies only 50 years back and now they are together as members fo the EU, benefiting each other, whereas India and Pakistan are still not behaving as good neighbours. I wonder where this will lead South Asia in the next 10-15 years.

  27. raz — on 4th April, 2006 at 1:08 pm  

    It’s funny how the US Air Force seems to get owned in every exercise they take part in. Yet when the real war starts, they kick anyones ass with no problem!

  28. Chan'ad — on 4th April, 2006 at 1:44 pm  

    I’m not too sure about this one. Yes it’s nice that these women have succeeded in a heavily patriarchical organization…. but we’re talking about an organization whose purpose is to bomb places and kill people (as well as support the current dictatorship). In 2004, Reem el-Reyashi became the first female suicide bomber for Hamas — I don’t recall anyone ever hailing that as success for women’s rights. Maybe the comparison is a bit extreme, but you get my point I hope.

    I celebrate the achievements of Pakistan’s many female doctors, teachers and social workers much more than these four ladies (all due respect to them).

  29. Justforfun — on 4th April, 2006 at 1:55 pm  

    Chan’ad - I think your right - it is important to remember what a waste war is. I pity the people of Pakistan - in the grip of a military that , like a vampire just sucks blood, but just not enough kill outright but enough to prevent any opposition or progress.

    Jai - google - “MISSION UDAAN” for your chance to fly with the IAF - they may do a repeat :-)

    and here is a site for what war actually means when fought it in the Himalayas. Stunning photography but of a very disturbing kind.

    http://outside.away.com/outside/features/200302/200302_siachen_1.html

    I think I’ll post this under Justsad

    Justsad

  30. Sunny — on 4th April, 2006 at 3:03 pm  

    In 2004, Reem el-Reyashi became the first female suicide bomber for Hamas — I don’t recall anyone ever hailing that as success for women’s rights.

    Heh, yeah it is a double edged sword isn’t it? Celebrating the right of women to also kill others. But then if men have been doing it…

  31. raz — on 4th April, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

    I think comparing a suicide bomber to an Air Force pilot is a bit absurd.

  32. Natasha Ali — on 4th April, 2006 at 4:02 pm  

    I think so too.

    It is this narrow-minded vision that anything that

    Muslims do, must have a terrorist connotation.

    Note the comment 7.

    it seems that Islamic scholarship is steeped in the idea of war and fighting - most o fthe rest of the world see themselves as just living and getting on with life - this Muslim scholar views it as being engaged in some kind of fight - I believe that this is quite telling about a mindset that views the world in antagonistic and aggressive terms!

    I mean, please, look at the comment in it’s context.
    Has it come to the point where Muslims cannot even utter the word “fight” without being snubbed. Isn’t this telling on someone else’s mindset rather than the Muslims?

  33. Al-Hack — on 4th April, 2006 at 4:57 pm  

    “Muslims do, must have a terrorist connotation.”

    Elaborate on that please Natasha Ali.

  34. Chanad — on 4th April, 2006 at 5:41 pm  

    Natasha, my comment had nothing to do with the fact these women are Muslim. It applies just as well to the militaries of India, Israel, or the US.

    The fact is that militaries kill people (very often, innocent people). The Pakistani and Indian militaries in particular have wasted huge amounts of resources fighting needless wars. The Pakistani military has been used to commit abhorrent crimes even against its own citizens, such as in East Pakistan/ Bangladesh.

    I know that my comparison was extreme, but my point is that we need to be more careful about applauding every time a woman does what men do. Men sometimes do very stupid things, so why is it a success if women join in doing stupid stuff also?

    Having said all of this, I will cheer on these women if they manage to attain a decision-making position in the military, and can influence it in a good way (i.e. stop meddling around in politics and civil society, stop wasting precious resources on weapons and perks, etc etc). Let’s hope so.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2006. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.