The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) academy has been all-male for more than 55 years – but now it is going through major change. Women are now allowed to enrol on its aerospace engineering and fighter pilot programmes and are doing rather well. To the great surprise of many men, some of the female recruits will soon start flying jet-engine planes.
But when one male cadet said the women should be shown compassion, female cadet Saman Ahmed was swift to say they were there to compete on equal terms. “We don’t expect compassion, we don’t get compassion, and we don’t want compassion,” she said. And this confidence is not without reason for Cadet Ahmed has already won praise in her engineering studies, beating both men and women. Her excellence is not confined to the classroom, either. During a rifle exercise, I watched as she shot all five bullets right in the bull’s eye.