Women in the Pakistan Armed Forces

Women in the Pakistan Armed Forces are the female soldiers who serve in the Pakistan Armed Forces.[1][2] Women have been taking part in Pakistani military since 1947 after the establishment of Pakistan. There are currently around 4,000 women who are serving in the Pakistan Armed Forces.[3][4] In 2006, the first women fighter pilots batch joined the combat aerial mission command of PAF[5][6]

The Pakistan Navy prohibits women to serve in the combat missions especially in the submarine force command, rather they are appointed and served in the operation involving the military logistics, staff development and the senior administrative offices, particularly in the regional and central headquarters.[7] Tentative estimates of women serving in Pakistan armed forces are now about ~4,000 and seen a rise in numbers of women joining the combat PAF in last five years.[8]

Feminism in the military

Previously in the 1930s and early 1940s, Muslim women who would go on to opt for Pakistan had played an extremely vital role in the success of Pakistan Movement. Founding mothers of Pakistan included the Shireen Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah and Begum Ra'ana.

Women in Pakistan Army

Be prepared to train the women in combat..... Islam doesn't want women to be shut up and never see fresh air
 Muhammad Ali Jinnah, c. 1940s, Cited source[9]

In 1948, the first lady of Pakistan Begum Ra'ana took the lead in starting the women’s voluntary service in 1948 to support the medical and logistics for the Pakistan Armed Forces engage in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947.[10] This led the formation of women unit in the Pakistan Army Corps of Medical; a first attempt was also made in introducing the combat training program for women but such attempts were dismissed by General Frank Messervy.[10] In 1949, the first lady took personal initiatives and established her own Pakistan Army Women National Guard (WNG) with few combat courses were introduced. The unit's first GOC and chief controller was Begum Ra'ana, with the rank of a Brigadier.[10]

In the 20th century, women were restricted participating in the active duty combat operations, although a sizable unit of women soldiers were deployed in hostile areas to support the medical operations only. In 2002, Shahida Malik was promoted to two-star rank and was the first women Major-General as well as first general officer commanding of the Pakistan Army Medical Corps. As of current, Major-General Shahida Badsha is in the line of promotion to be promoted to first female Lieutenant-General, a three-star rank officer. She is also the first female colonel-commandant of the Army Medical College (AMC).

Another name, Lieutenant Colonel Shahida Akram Bhurgri of Pakistan Army Medical Corps is also known to be the First Ever Lady Doctor from Sindh to get commissioned in Pakistan Army. Prior to her, there were no Sindhi Female Doctors in Pakistan Army.

Apart from the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and post-1971 war, due to a growing need for ground forces, women were needed in roles in the field.[11] The manpower shortages goaded the army to allow women taking more part in fields related to Medical and Engineering, since its establishment, women are historically barred from battle in the Pakistan Army, serving in a variety of technical and administrative support roles.[11] Since 2004, women are trained in warfare, but are not part of any fighting formations.[12] Women who are appointed in the high-ranking position actively participate in usually medical operations plannings.[13]

On 14 July 2013, 24 female officers in the Pakistan Army mostly Doctors and Software Engineers successfully completed a paratroopers' course at the Parachute Training School, becoming the first group of women to do so in the military's history.[14]

Women in Pakistan Air Force

In 2003, the PAF started a new combat programme by inducting women to be trained as fighter pilot.[15] In 2006, the first batch of women fighter pilots joined the combat services of the PAF.[15] The chief of army staff General Ahsan Saleem Hyat handed certificates of honour to the successful men and women cadet in the PAF Academy.[15] Women fighter pilots the F-7 fighter jets and are trained in carrying out the bombing and aerial combat missions.[16] The women in PAF also operates a feminist organization, the Pakistan Air Force Women Association (PAFWA), to promote women to join the PAF as a combat pilot and to promote women's health in the air force.[17] However, since 2012 the PAF has stopped inducting women as fighter pilots because of a growing rate of unfitness and lack of flying aptitude in the women already inducted.


  1. Front Desk. "Pakistan women officers visit NATO Headquarters". North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO Newsroom and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  2. ISPR Officials (September 2, 2012). "Pakistan: Woman in running to become first 3 star general". Indian Express. New Delhi: Indian Express Group of Newspapers. p. 1.
  3. "Pakistan fighter pilot wins battle of sexes, now she's ready for war". The Express Tribune. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  4. "Pakistan Army". Retrieved 09/02/2012. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. Abbas, Zafar (30 March 2006). "Pakistan gets women combat pilots". BBC News. Islamabad: BBC News, Islamabad. p. 1. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  6. Staff editorial report (April 26, 2006). "Pakistan army to turns to women for combat". Indian Defence Journal. Indian Defence Journal. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  7. Staff report (July 5, 2011). "Splendid passing-out parade held for smartly turned out naval officers". Tribune Express. Pakistan Naval Academy: Tribune Express. p. 1. Retrieved September 2, 2012.
  8. Amie Ferris-Rotman (13 June 2013). "Pakistan fighter pilot wins battle of sexes, now she's ready for war". Yahoo News Pakistan. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  9. Life devoted to human welfare, Dawn, Muneeza Shamsie, 11/06/82
  10. 1 2 3 Press. "Women In Pakistan Army". Story of Pakistan. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  11. 1 2 ISPR, Inter-Services Public Relations. "Making The Mark - Women In Pakistan - Part 1". Government of Pakistan. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  12. ISPR, Inter-Services Public Relations. "Marking the Mark". Government of Pakistan (P2). Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  13. NATO. "General Gaskin met Pakistani Women Officers to discuss the need to strengthen NATO-Pakistan military cooperation". NATO. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  14. "Pakistan Army: First female paratroopers make history". The Express Tribune. 14 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  15. 1 2 3 Zaffar Abbas (30 March 2006). "Pakistan gets women combat pilots". BBC Pakistan. Retrieved 9 September 2012. The Pakistani Air Force (PAF) has inducted four women as fighter pilots for the first time.
  16. "PAF Female Pilots complete Operational Conversion on F-7P fighter aircraft". Inter-Services Public Relations. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  17. "Pakistan Air Force Women Association. (PAFWA)". Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Retrieved 9 September 2012.
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