Letters To The Editor

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.” – Aldous Huxley

Women in forces

For some decades now, armies have gradually become more receptive to the recruitment of women. The processes are highly varied, with the proportion of women employed in the armed forces progressing at a different pace depending both on the country and on the branch of the forces. It has to be said, however, women are still very much in the minority in the military. Women who join the armed forces are faced with an environment designed by and for men. Although, the number of women recruited to the armed forces has increased in many countries, the military environment has not always adjusted to this state of affairs. Women in the military face many forms of discrimination, whether for example in access to the most senior positions or to combat occupations. Sexual harassment and sexual assaults against them are also a major problem. There is no international legal instrument which deals specifically with the rights of female military staff. The Pakistan Army has 560,000 troops, says the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). This is out of a total active military of 653,800 personnel. The Express Tribune reported only 4,000 women in Pakistan’s armed forces in 2013. Recruits were reportedly mostly consigned to medical work and desk jobs, as women are banned from ground combat in our country. By extrapolation, there are only around 3,400 women serving in the Pakistani Army. The situation of women in the armed forces, good practices and recommendations on equal access by women to the armed forces and equal rights for serving female personnel are some things to be looked upon. I also wish to give greater visibility to the problem of harassment and violence against women in the military in the hope that this may encourage victims or witnesses to report offences and in this way obtain justice.

Sehrish Khan,

Electricity breakdowns

Many people in Pakistan go hours on end without any electricity and this situation does not seem to improve, despite many government changes. Even now, the power can go at any time, without any warnings, and if you do not have a UPS or a generator, then you are doomed to wait for a long time before you can even turn on a fan, which in the current climate, is akin to torture. While the elites stay in power, there seems to be no possible solution to this crisis, as power outages are an issue for the disenfranchised and the forgotten poor population of the country. However, instead of providing people with the relief that they so obviously crave, after years suffering through these terrible conditions, the government and private institutions keep announcing a hike in prices. It seems as power outages grow longer, so does the electricity bills. Last week, several parts of Karachi plunged into darkness as the citizens of the port city grappled with heatwaves and constant load shedding. However, the Power Division confirmed that the transmission lines supplying power to Karachi have been fixed and the load is being increased gradually. That being said, the breakdowns are unforeseen situations beyond our control and the sudden power cuts often cause great disturbance in the everyday life of citizens. So, before a blackout in the network it is good to be prepared since it can take us unexpectedly. First thing to do is to have a small anti-blackout kit with flashlights and spare batteries, as well as candles, matches and lighters. Second, do not open the refrigerator or freezer so that they do not lose the cold and prevent food deterioration. Third, disconnect any appliance that remained on, such as the oven, microwave or iron, as continuous power cuts often damage the appliances.

Hina Tariq,