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Women in military

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?


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Thanks for this insightful share! I actually feel like more shows should be made that are centered around different work spaces/ industries so that we are able to understand how various professions function in our society. However, I also admit that this representation might be tainted by personal motives, vamdettas and propaganda.

Interestingly, I'd love to watch a show that revolves around the lives of chefs or artists in pakistani industry.

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I think the point about militarization of media is very relevant in the context because of the power dynamics in the country. Keeping that in mind you raise an excellent question. When I look at it from this perspective, my mind goes to the policies in the country that penalize citizens on criticizing the army. ISPR, being a military wing really discredits the plot.

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Absolutely, the power dynamics in our country can give another angle to think about the militarization of media. Similarly, the vanishing independence of PEMRA is another example of how those powerful in the country are gaining control and ownership of media. Initially, the mere theme of such media productions is to portray a positive image of the army and the cadet trainings at PMA. However, there are varying hidden agendas as well.

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Mahnoor you have made some really interesting points, good job! While I agree that it can be counted as propaganda positivity shown, I would not call it militarization of media because at the end of the day, people do come out and question the authenticity or representativeness of the media product especially one made/sponsored by ISPR. Not only do we question, but we also believe that the drama to some extend is a tactic to sell an image that either doesn't exist, or is not the full truth. I think that is one of the reasons why a drama with female representation might have a lesser viewership or less engagement (like you gave the example of OST views). I myself…

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Hey Ayesha,

A few very interesting points you brought to the discussion. Thank you for sharing. I also watched a few interviews of the 'Sinf e Ahan' cast and was very surprised to find out that the stunts and the scenes were self-experienced by every actress.

Secondly, I also understand why a drama with female representation has lesser views than the one where the cast was male centric. This is what our society is, and even if media broadcasts bring to light issues that are sensitive, awareness is never completed as a process. One, because the viewers just shut it out and refuse to watch it, hence the less views. Second, they are so ingrained as patriarch reinforcers that they…

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Iman Aamir
Iman Aamir
Aug 02, 2022

Hi when I watched the dramas the first thing I thought was how come I never heard of female women in the army and so many positions for them were their . One thing I can say is this was a propoganda tactic, specially sinfeahan, while I loved the drama as a viewer I also noticed how they had made the army sound too good to be true (no harrasment , inclusivity, no sifarish erich) however if one ponders deeply it can be understood that every industry has a Dark side , it isn’t possible for something to be soo good to be true . Lastly I think Whatever media propoganda they are trying to create is working becuase even…

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Hey,

The power of media is immense as we have also seen through the course of this class. Unconsciously and consciously we devour media influence which forms popular narratives within and around us. The message was merely to showcase the army and the recruitment process of the army under positive light. However, embedded within were more hidden agendas that need to be unveiled. For example, people (especially women) wanting to enlist themselves in the army. Other than that, the power which army has over the politics of the country is also showcased implicitly through such media productions. The male politician character in ehd -e-wafa was a clear cut effort to bring politicians under negative light. IPSR, as a military body…

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I completely agree with your thoughts about how these serials portray women and other of underrepresented groups in dramas. And yes, they do portray very strong female characters for these programs to serve as an inspiration for other Pakistanis. And this is a significant approach to encourage patriotism among the populace.

But to answer your question, I believe that this is merely a showoff, though I could be mistaken. But I also want to point out that by airing these kinds of serials, the army is protecting itself. Moreover, by highlighting the inclusion of women in these dramas and by demonstrating compassion for minorities. Because if they truly care about them, why are only army dramas depicting this? They are…

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Hey, I second your opinion regarding the genuineness of the efforts to promote inclusivity of women and the minority groups in Pakistan, however, the main point of concern here can be the way in which this is only limited to the media productions. In the clearest fashion, ISPR has attempted to challenge and write off the stereotypical discourses that encircle their recruitment process and the overall representation in the Pakistan army. As for queer representation, I would like to point out that there was no such theme addressed in any of these productions. Getting support being the first and foremost agenda of such broadcasts, the army definitely did not want any backlash by going against the internalized norms of a…

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