ISLAMABAD: Ayesha Farooq broke all barriers to become the first war-ready fighter pilot in Pakistan's Air Force.
Farooq joined the league of 19 other Pakistani women who are pilot in Pakistani air force, five of them are designated to fly the fighter aircrafts, but have not taken the final test, as yet. Ayesha is a part of Squadron 20, made up of 25 pilots, including Ayesha Farooq. She is assigned to fly Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jets.
Ayesha had to face stiff resistance from within the family and outside to pursue her dream of flying. Ayesha sees herself as no less than any of her male colleagues. She says that they all do the same activities and are entrusted with equally challenging tasks.
A growing number of women have joined Pakistan's defence forces in recent years as attitudes towards women change. Farooq, whose slim frame offers a study in contrast with her burly male colleagues, was at loggerheads with her widowed and uneducated mother seven years ago when she said she wanted to join the air force.
Family pressure against the traditionally male domain of the armed forces dissuaded other women from taking the next step to become combat ready, air force officials said. They fly slower aircraft instead, ferrying troops and equipment around the nuclear-armed country of 180 million.