THIS is with reference to the letter ‘Women soldiers and their dress’ (Oct 17). I would like to clarify some misconceptions regarding the uniform and training of women soldiers. I have been serving in the Pakistan army as a commissioned officer for the last five years.

After induction, women army officers go through a six-month military training at the Pakistan Military Academy like their male counterparts. The comprehensive training includes military education and development of physical efficiency skills.

They have a regular khaki uniform (sari) that is worn during routine official working. This is comfortable for the office. While in the field, they wear combat uniform called CCD with DMS boots as do male officers. How does one’s attire ever affect one’s efficiency is a question that the writer needs to elaborate?

After completion of military training they go through a physical efficiency test that includes rigorous physical activities.

Women officers are equally capable of handling all sorts of small arms and go through field rigours as do their male counterparts.

Women soldiers are equally, if not more, capable of performing their duties efficiently and effectively. That the writer has called them the ‘antithesis of their brethren in arms’ is an antiquated notion that does not warrant any comment. Women army officers have proved themselves as an equally significant working force in the journey towards national progress.

Capt AFIA ASHFAQ Islamabad

Next to no one

THIS refers to the letter by Sayed G.B. Shah Bokhari ‘Women soldiers and their dress’ (Oct 17). The writer has suggested that to bring our women military officers somewhere near the soldier’s form they should be made to wear trousers, bush-shirt, beret and boots for outdoor activity.

He also says that at present women officers either wear sari or shalwar-qameez as official uniform which may suit a housewife but not the one pursuing the roughest of the professions.

It is surprising that in this age of information technology the writer is so outdated. The dress of women officers in the armed forces depends on the nature of their work. Women doctors wear sari and nurses shalwar-qameez as they have to work inside the hospital and are not required to be dressed in trousers and boots. But when they are sent on field duty, they are dressed in ‘fatigues’. Women doctors also wear peaked cap or beret even when they are wearing sari but only when outside their office/clinic.

Dress for women officers of other branches is trousers, bush shirt and oxford shoes. They either wear beret, peaked cap or side cap like male officers. While in the field, women officers are dressed like soldiers with ankle-high boots (DMS) and wear steel helmet.

They also attend morning PT, evening games and do foot drill as per routine programme of their units. They are also trained and carry out live firing practice of small arms.

Similarly, in Pakistan Air Force we have now women fighter pilots and they wear the same flying suit as worn by their male colleagues. To keep them physically fit, women officers undergo rough and tough training both in their respective academies and in their units. Many of them are also trained in martial arts and sharp shooting: this again depends on the nature of their duties.

It is pertinent to note that women soldiers in paramilitary forces and police are also trained and dressed like their counterparts in armed forces.

Women soldiers of the Airport Security Force are also trained as sky marshals. They wear trousers, bush-shirt and heavy boots and are rough and tough like their male colleagues.

Their dress, tough training and efficiency of firing weapons can be seen, watching a video clip on YouTube.

SQN LDR (Retd) S. AUSAF HUSAIN Karachi

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