Sub-Inspector Shahida is one of the many young women who have recently joined the Rawalpindi Police Force after clearing the Punjab Public Service Commission exam. She is conscientious, educated, and confident — exactly the image that Pakistan, whose population balance tips towards the young, needs to have.
In our dominant patriarchal culture, the induction of such a large number of young women did come to me as a bit of a surprise. So much so, I was wondering if the government had privatised the police department!
This interesting exchange with Shahida took place by chance a couple of days ago, when I was visiting my friend, a superintendent of Police in Rawalpindi. Upon entering the Rawalpindi Police Headquarters, I saw a couple of young uniform-clad women, looking very professional.
I asked her if she ever felt threatened, or if she carried a weapon. “I am the weapon,” she said.
The colour of their uniform was the same as that of their male colleagues, but something else captured my attention. They were all wearing pantaloons.
This was definitely not something I expected policewomen in Punjab to wear. They usually dress in the traditional Shalwar Kameez.
I was very curious to know how these policewomen were different from the rest. When I asked my friend about it, he said these newly-recruited ladies had to undergo a rigorous police training, including an Elite Commando course.
Elite training? I was puzzled. This training is considered to be the toughest in police, not just for women, but also for men. It has the same reputation as that of the SSG trainings conducted by the army. “How did they do all this?” I inquired, on which my friend suggested that I should meet them to find out for myself.
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