Pictures of the Day: Standing Tall

Posted on December 27, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Minorities, Photo of the Day, Society, Women
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By Adil Najam

It has been a tradition for as long as I can recall that on the 25th of December a contingent of cadets from the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Kakul, takes over as the ceremonial honor guards at the mausoleum of the Quaid, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This year, Jinnah’s 130th birth anniversary, was special because the PMA honor guard contingent included eight female cadets and one Sikh cadet.

The two pictures here are from Dawn and Daily Times. Indicative of the importance is the fact that the two newspapers use the titles ‘Winds of Change’ and ‘New Beginning’ to headline the pictures, respectively.

According to an Associated Press report in the Daily Times (27 December, 2006):

Eight female cadets from the Pakistan Army’s elite training academy on Monday became the first female honour guards at the mausoleum of Pakistan’s founder, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. State-run television showed the female contingent, clad in khaki cadet slacks, some wielding swords and others holding guns, marching to military tunes with their male colleagues in a ceremony at the mausoleum of Mr Jinnah, the Father of the Nation, in Karachi. In November, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul opened its doors to women. In March, women also broke into the all-male air force when it inducted four women pilots.

Forty-one females joined the army academy to undergo a rigorous six months of military training along with men before being inducted as officers in various branches of the army. President Gen Pervez Musharraf, who attended ceremonies in Karachi marking the 130th birthday of Mr Jinnah, laid flowers at the mausoleum and praised the female cadets who are to graduate next April. “I am really impressed by the girls,� Musharraf said. “This is the future of Pakistan.� Previously, women had only served in the army’s medical corps without being trained at the academy. But the 41 female cadets at PMA will join the army as non-combat officers in the communication, engineering, legal and education branches.

Comments on this issue have already been flowing elsewhere on ATP but I thought these pictures were worth sharing and highlighting here. Readers would remember that earlier this year Aviation Cadet Saira Amin had won the coveted Sword of Honour for best all-round performance at the Air Force Academy in Risalpur and became the first woman pilot to have won the Sword of Honour in any defense academy of Pakistan. I should confess that a few days ago when I had contemplated naming an ‘ATP Pakistani of the Year’ she was one of the people I thought would make a great candidate as a symbol of women breaking into traditionally male-dominated professions.

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71 responses to “Pictures of the Day: Standing Tall”

  1. Daktar says:

    These pictures make me feel good about the future of Pakistan. much better than I did after looking at your list of options in the Poll on key events of 2006.

    Its not just them, I also stand tall today. And I am sure the Quaid was also smiling in his grave.

  2. TURAB says:

    we have a batch of women fighter pilots in PAF as well! makes me proud of our country!

  3. This is brilliant… to say the least.

  4. Moeen Bhatti says:

    A great change….

  5. Kabir says:

    May I take this opportunity to remind everyone especially the expatriates to display Pakistan flag (pins/wolf-tags/sticker etc) & other Pakistan icons/images. I have one on my backpack and desktop in office. Shukriya

  6. Zulfiqar says:

    Mr. Siddiqui is probably correct. Part of this is a political gimmick just like Gen. Zia’s islamization was a political stunt. But it is a GOOD political gimmick which sends the right signal to society about rights and equal status of women and minorities. People who do wrong things like Martial Law can also sometimes do good things even for wrong reason.

  7. The new political stunt and emotional commnets by my fellow innocent Pakistanis made me laugh.

    May I ask how this stunt is NOT different than PML[Q]’s recent gimmick on the occasion of Dewali?

    Do you guys really think that Mush’s regime is ACTUALLY doing something good which was never done in past? I ask how a sikh and few girls made you to believe that Pakistan is changing?

    This govt is not even 1% different than previous govts and they are least intrested and bothered about the rights of minority/majority/whatever. If mush has a soft corner for minorities then he should already have started a grand operation against all waderas and Chudharies who have been offending low cast hindus in interior Sind and christians in Punjab. I already mentioned in other post about Musharraf’s mentality about Pakistani women.

    It’s all power game. If today these guys recieve a message from Oval office to promote Madarassah system and islamists and ban all these so called liberals and minorities,promote Islamic teachings in all over Pakistan and hug talibans then I am damn sure same Mush regime would be cursing Liberalism,moderanization and present himself a “Mujahid or savior of Ummah”. That’s what former dictator did in past when they recieved orders from US to fight against communism. These guys have no deen and Iman, they do what is best for them rather what is best for others.

    We are living in 21st century but our Jahil politicians and people in power can still fool educated class of Pakistan forget about illetrate majority.

  8. muawiya says:

    i’m a woman and frankly have always been for the women’s lib, the voice for women…when the Air Force decided to induct women as fighter pilots i applauded the idea and was very proud of that fact…finally not only our government but the people of pakistan are also opening up their hearts to give women the respect they deserve for their brains and their intellect…however, i simply cannot agree to the idea of a woman in the army…it just is not right…

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