PESHAWAR -- Women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are taking a stronger and more visible role in policing, most notably with the promotion of the first woman station house officer (SHO) to head an all-male police station in the province.
KP Police sub-inspector Rizwana Hameed set that precedent July 7 when she was appointed SHO of the Gulberg police station in Peshawar. She is serving as temporary SHO until the return of the regular SHO, who is on leave.
Rizwana is simultaneously serving as SHO of the Women's Police Station in Peshawar, a role she took on three years ago. It is the only Peshawar police station staffed exclusively by women and meant to serve only female complainants.
Another Women's Police Station operates in Abbottabad.
High confidence in policewomen
Rizwana's appointment in Gulberg marks the first time a woman is leading an all-male KP Police station.
"This posting will tell us how women run all-male police stations," Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations Peshawar Sajjad Khan told Pakistan Forward.
Women can fly jets, lead nations and excel in any field, he said, adding, "Her success will go a long way towards the emancipation of women in KP and the rest of the country."
Khan said he and his team will provide complete support to Rizwana so she can thrive and boost the morale of other policewomen and women in general.
"We hope she will do well," he said.
Rizwana is confident that she can do the job.
"I've been heading the Women's Police Station [in Peshawar] for a long time," she told Pakistan Forward. "I won't disappoint the people. I'll work hard as the first female SHO of an all-male police station."
Rizwana has master's degrees in political science and Islamic history. She joined the police force as assistant sub-inspector in 1996.
"Women have performed well in every field," she said. "They can do the same on the police force."
KP policewomen show bravery, leadership
Before Rizwana made history by taking the reins at the Gulberg police station, other KP policewomen have made their mark in the dangerous field of bomb disposal.
They include Rafia Qaseem Baig, who in 2016 became the first woman to join the KP Police Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU).
A trio of sisters from Karak -- Rukhsana, Parveen (Pari) and Samina Gul -- completed BDU training in February. Before that achievement, all three finished Elite Commando Training in 2016.
"We're on the force to go after the enemies of the country," Rukhsana told media in Peshawar in February, adding that the sisters overcame family and village resistance when they joined KP Police.
"I don't care if I die while saving the lives of others," Pari told media on the same occasion.
A number of other women hold prominent positions in the KP Police.
A few months ago, Iram Abbasi became assistant inspector general in charge of training at the central police office in Peshawar.
At least seven other women are serving as deputy superintendents of police throughout KP: Nazir Naureen, Shahzadi Naushad, Anila Naz, Asmat Ara, Shazia Shahid, Rozia Altaf and Hameeda Bano.
Three of them are posted with Peshawar Traffic Police, Riaz Ahmad, a traffic superintendent of police, told Pakistan Forward.
Serving women better
KP Police have been striving to adjust to female citizens' needs.
In 2013, they established women's desks at police stations all over KP. The desks are meant to enable women to obtain police help if they felt uncomfortable approaching male officers.
"Setting up female desks and bringing more women into mainstream policing are good not only for the province's image but will help female complainants who were hesitant to approach policemen," Peshawar journalist Qaisar Khan told Pakistan Forward.
The two Women's Police Stations in Peshawar and Abbottabad need to become more active so they can do more for women seeking justice, he said.
"Women must be given more chances," he said. "They have done well in every field through hard work and commitment."