ISLAMABAD  - The country’s first group of female paratroopers completed their training on Sunday, the military announced, while terming it a landmark achievement.

The first batch of 24 female officers successfully completed the first-ever Lady Paratroopers Course at Para Training School in Peshawar.

Captain Kiran Ashraf was declared the best paratrooper of the batch, the military said in a statement, while Captain Sadia, referred to by one name, emerged as the first woman officer to jump from a MI-17 helicopter.

In this connection, a simple but impressive ceremony was held at Tarbela where the lady officers were awarded Para Wings (Insignia) by Major-General Abid Rafique, General Officer Commanding, Special Service Group.

According to an ISPR press release, a total of 24 lady officers of Pakistan Army successfully completed a three-week basic air borne course at Parachute Training School in Peshawar.

A statement released by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) says Captain Sadia was the first lady officer who jumped from MI-17 helicopter and marked the history whereas Captain Kiran Ashraf was declared the best paratrooper of the batch.

Besides challenging physical training, Para jumping course involved training in exit, flight and landing techniques.

The paratroopers are taught to control their parachutes while descending and carry out emergency measures such as untwisting their rigging lines, taking the necessary action upon collision with another parachutist and landing in water, the ISPR statement said.

Further boosting their morale, Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani congratulated all the lady officers and their training staff on successful completion of the training and valued their level of high morale.

The enrolment of women in Pakistan’s armed forces started during the time of former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. Women are now part of all three services of the Pakistan military.

Women have limited opportunities in Pakistan’s highly traditional, patriarchal society.

The United Nations says only 40 per cent of adult women are literate. And they are frequently the victims of violence and abuse.

But in 2006, seven women broke into one of Pakistan’s most exclusive male clubs to graduate as fighter pilots, perhaps the most prestigious job in the powerful military and for six decades closed to the fairer sex.