Thursday, April 06, 2006

Pakistan gets Women Combat Pilots

The BBC reports on an interesting development in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:
The Pakistani Air Force (PAF) has inducted four women as fighter pilots for the first time.
The women were part of a batch of 36 cadets who were awarded flying badges after three years of gruelling training at the PAF academy at Risalpur. Being a fighter pilot has until now been a purely male domain. Women could join the armed forces but only for non-combat jobs like the medical corps. Three years ago the PAF decided to allow women to train as fighter pilots.
Khaleej Times Online ads:

The four women are the first female pilots in the 58-year-history of the Pakistan air force. They trained in MFI-17 Super Mushfhak and T-37 jets, and depending on their abilities and the needs of the air force could go on to fly fighter jets. Three more women are due to get their wings in October, but the air force will see how they perform before deciding whether to induct more female trainees, said Air. Cmdr. Abid Kwaja, chief of the flight training college.

The women undergo the same training alongside their male colleagues, but live in separate quarters, and in a concession to religious sensitivities in this conservative Islamic nation, do their physical exercises separately from the men. (...)

About 5 per cent of Pakistan’s air force officers are women, mostly serving in areas like engineering, medicine, air traffic control and administration.
Pakistan is still a male-dominated society and generally has a poor record for women’s rights. Violence against women is still rife and usually goes unpunished. Women’s literacy is only 35 per cent, compared with 62 per cent for men.


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