Nigar Johar Khan: The first woman lieutenant general in the Pakistan Army

The state was created through social contract between human beings to ensure security of life and livelihood, to survive the anarchy of the kingdom of nature. The military is one of the institutions that was formed with the concept of security in mind. As a result, members of the military have always fought on the front lines to protect civilians from enemy attacks, while strong military forces have also addressed future threats to the security of the state’s inhabitants through state conquests.

Since its inception in the military, male members have been predominant, due to the social structure, the responsibility of ensuring security was considered as the responsibility of men. As a result, most of the heroic contributions to the history of the military have been made by men, and most of the generals have been men. As a result, although there are examples of successful female military leaders in history, such as Joan of Arc, Queen Boudakah, Elizabeth I, and Artemisia, modern-day military forces will be a major part of the discussion of women’s participation in the military.

Women in the Pakistan Armed Force

Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan

The military is the most powerful political institution in Pakistan’s internal politics. The country’s military has 560,000 active troops, most of whom work in the Pakistan Army. They have 28 lieutenant generals in their army, of which the only woman is Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan.

Nigar Johar Khan, the first woman to be honored as a three-star general, hails from the village of Swabi in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Since his father was an army officer, Nigar Johar had to change schools regularly since childhood. Challenging mentality from school days has been a supporting force in Nigar Johar’s later career, confidence in the workplace and adaptability have played an important role in his promotions.

Nigar’s dream was to become a doctor and to work in the military like his father. The only way to fulfill the two dreams together was to get a chance to study at Army Medical College. Nigar Johar got that opportunity for the first time, along with the opportunity to study in two more medical colleges. It took Nigar Johar and his mother a month to convince their father to enroll in Army Medical College.

Nigar Johar Khan with his father

Nigar Johar has also left an impression of achievement in Army Medical College. The company commander was Ayesha Company. After graduating from Army Medical College in 1975, he was commissioned as a Captain in the Army. The administration chose the subject of choice as there was no legal opportunity to study cardiology. Nigar Johar’s parents and sister were killed in a road accident in 1990. Colonel Qadir’s father had long worked for Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, the ISI.
Nigar Johar has worked in various capacities and positions in the Army Medical Corps, leaving a mark of success everywhere. In recognition of this, on 9 February 2016, Nigar Johar was promoted to the rank of Major General Rank as the third woman in the Pakistan Army and was appointed as the first Commandant of the Jhelum Combined Military Hospital. Major General Nigar Johar Khan then served as the Vice Principal of the Army Medical College and as the Commandant of the Military Hospital in Rawalpindi.

Apart from his brilliant career, Nigar Johar Khan’s academic career is also quite enviable. He did MCPS on Family Medicine, Masters in Public Health, from Armed Forces Post Graduate Medical Institute, Pakistan. He has done MSc in Advanced Medical Administration from the same institute.

Nigar Johar Khan to be promoted to Lieutenant General’s rank batch

Major General Nigar Johar Khan was the Commandant of the largest hospital in South Asia when he was promoted to Lieutenant General as the first woman on June 30, 2020. At the Pak-Emirati Military Hospital, General Nigar played a key role in the Pakistani government’s plan to control the epidemic. In June 2020, she was promoted to Lieutenant General and became the first female Surgeon General of the Pakistan Army, leading the first female Director General of the Inter Services Medical Corps.

In recognition of his career achievements, Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan received the Hilal-i-Imtiaz Medal and also the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz Medal. In addition, she is the first female Colonel Commandant of the Army Medical Corps. The Colonel Commandant is usually a rhetorical rank, honorably awarded for advocacy from outside the corps’ executive structure.

Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan has been a sign of success throughout his career

Why is the example of General Nigar Johar Khan important?

Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan has been credited with financial management as an administrator in order to overcome the stages of deployment in the military, as well as to ensure efficiency and overall capability of the corps in addition to efficient division of labor among subordinates. In her career as a military officer, General Nigar Johar has, in many cases, been the first woman to go beyond her responsibilities and play a role in changing the political culture and culture of the workplace. Lieutenant General Nigar Johar has achieved a lot in his career by overcoming all the challenges and has made a lot of history. The example of Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan is important for the society of Pakistan, a South Asian country, for many reasons.

The rise of Nigar Johar Khan is significant in the conservative society of Pakistan

First, marriage is bound by the various social and religious norms of Pakistan’s conservative society. Marriage is seen as a compulsion in Pakistani society. In Pakistan, it is usually the head of the family who decides to get married, which is usually seen as the responsibility of the father or grandfather. Mothers can express their likes and dislikes about marriage. However, most of the time in marriage, the choice of girls is not asked, their likes and dislikes are not given importance. According to a survey, only 4.6 per cent of women in Punjab are asked about their likes and dislikes in marriage, given the opportunity to postpone marriage or decide when to get married. According to social norms, ‘good girls’ leave their decision of marriage to the elders.

According to a 2016 UNICEF report, 18 percent of Pakistani girls get married before the age of 18, and 3 percent get married before the age of 15. Child marriage is a cause of physical and mental complications for girls, most of them drop out of school, they are stuck in the vicious cycle of illiteracy for generations. Again, young girls face various complications in adapting to the new environment.
In such a society, the example of Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan can indirectly influence the transformation of the social structure, reduce the number of dropouts, and bring rural Pakistani societies out of the vicious cycle of illiteracy.

Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan is an inspiration for women

Second, in July 2016, 28-year-old Kandel Baloch was killed by her brother. In the videos found online, Kandel Baloch’s brother is said to have committed the murder out of disrespect for his sister’s family, and for not following the tradition of the ethnic group. This type of killing is called ‘honor killing’.

Despite the incidents of ‘honor killings’ in other countries of South Asia, Pakistan is at the forefront. Human rights groups say that every year, about a thousand women, like Kandel Baloch, are subjected to “honor killings” by their own family members. In addition, according to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey, 28 percent of women aged 15-49 in Pakistan have been physically abused by their spouses.

Third, Pakistani society, like other conservative societies, lacks a cooperative culture for women’s careers, and social institutions do not positively evaluate women’s investment and time spent on education. Parents are skeptical about women’s careers, they prefer marriage in a better place than girls’ careers. For this reason, many Pakistani women who have passed MBBS have to choose the life of a housewife. Pakistan has one of the highest dropout rates in the world.

The example of Lieutenant General Nigar Johar Khan will encourage these women in Pakistani society to invest in education, encourage women to devote time to their careers, and encourage family support in career-oriented risks.

Source: Roar Bangla