On one hand we have seen that no women voted in areas such as lower Dir Laki Marwat and other areas of KPK, and then we have amazing women such as Ambreen Gul, who has made history, by becoming the first female fighter pilots in Pakistan. “It’s a profession of passion. One has to be extremely motivated. I love flying, I love to fly fighter jets, I also want to serve my country,” Ambreen said. She had signed up when she was 18; only a handful of girls beat homesickness and stiff competition, to pass a six-month selection process and graduated after three-and-a-half years of training. She says it was the toughest time she ever had.

She is ecstatic to be a fighter pilot; she says PAF is a trailblazer for women’s rights. As respected officer, she is living her dream. Ambreen’s father, who is a manger in a company, was delighted by her choice of profession. Ironically, it was her housewife mother who initially feared her daughter would bring shame on the family. It was because of our eastern culture. She thought people would ask why they were letting their daughter work.

The middle class and upper middle class in Pakistan are conservative Muslim, the United Nations says only 40 percent of adult women are literate. Women are victims of violence and abuse, and the country still lacks a law against domestic violence, but in 2006, seven women broke into one of Pakistan’s most exclusive male club, to graduate as fighter pilots – perhaps the most prestigious job in the armed forces, and closed to the fairer sex for six decades.

While PAF is outwardly very proud of its women pilots, some wonder privately whether women are strong enough to reach the top of the profession. But flying transport and cargo planes, ferrying VIPs like cabinet ministers around the country, Ambreen feels women’s lot is improving and takes issue with Western perceptions of Pakistan as backward. PAF has given this chance on an equal basis. It was really a bold step that the Pakistan Air Force has taken in recruiting lady fighter pilots, she said.


Karachi, May 16.