Pakistan air force inducts first female pilots
With ceremonial pomp and aerial acrobatics, Pakistan on Thursday welcomed the first four female pilots into its air force at a grand parade watched by the Islamic nation's number 2 general.
Saba Khan, Nadia Gul, Mariam Khalil and Saira Batool were among 36 aviation cadets who received their wings after 3 and half years of intensive training, breaking into an all-male bastion of Pakistan's armed forces.
"I want to fly fighter jets and prove that girls can equally serve our country in the best possible manner as men are doing," Flying Officer Gul, 22, told AP after graduating from the air force's elite training academy in the northwestern town of Risalpur.
General Ahsan Saleem Hyat, vice chief of army staff, said the four had "shown the spirit and courage to rise above the ordinary and break new ground for others to emulate."
Carrying rifles and dressed in the same blue uniform as their male colleagues - except for a kameez (tunic) flapping over their navy blue trousers, and one wearing a headscarf - they paraded before hundreds of family members and diplomats, and took the military oath.
Standing in front of a T-37 training jet, Batool described her training as tough but "very thrilling."
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.
About 5 per cent of Pakistan's air force officers are women, mostly serving in areas like engineering, medicine, air traffic control and administration.