Recently, drama serials sponsored by ISPR aired in Pakistan brought to light female representation in the army. Sinf e Ahan, women of steel, was the last to air and it was a scripted attempt to eradicate stereotypical views encircling female participation in the military. For example, one of the lady cadets played the character of a Christian (minority community) who gets selected and goes to PMA (Pakistan Military Academy) for training. Times are changing. With more talk and awareness about equality between genders, the military has also seen making shifts. As a result, they had to face barriers in the form of stereotypes and preconceived notions about army's selection process for fresh cadets like the idea that Christians can not join the Pakistan army was explicitly written off in this drama serial.
The talk of the platform, Aik Thi Nigar, a biopic made on the life of the first female lieutenant general in the Pakistan Army, Nigar Johar, was a different take within this dialogue and was very much making rounds on all digital platforms and discussion forums. A proud moment for the nation. I agree. Fortunately enough, some might point out that this news blew big which shows the level of awareness and positive image that female participation in the military has built-in society over the past few years.
However, why haven't we ever heard such news before? What was more surprising? The fact that she was the first female since 1947 to reach this prestigious post and honorary level in the army or that she was a female who earned this achievement.
The biopic showcases a determined and indefatigable Nigar Johar overcoming personal tragedy and societal restraints to achieve her dream of becoming a lieutenant general. 'Restraints' here are the social constructs that we have contributed to by enforcing the same mindset for years, and further forwarded them by the power of media most of us are unaware of. For example, the title track for 'Ehd -e- Wafa', another ISPR production, marks the training journey of a group of four male friends at PMA. The music video for that OST had more likes and views than the title track for 'Sinf -e- Ahan.' We might argue that music and song composition are also important factors to be considered, however, do we blind ourselves to the fact that our choice of media products says and is directed by more than just this?
Unconsciously we are facilitators of this social problem we find ourselves trapped in. Every individual believes himself to be immune, however, media exposure leaves a great impression on our way of thinking and analyzing the world around us. Isn't this the reason why ISPR is producing serials to bring together the likeness and support for their institution by eradicating stereotypes that have blacked it out?
Not only in the military, male superiority across all professions and careers has been starkly evident in Pakistan. Do you think through the channel of such media productions female representation is being marked inclusive and empowered or is it just one of the tactics taking us closer to the militarization of media?