December 1, 2021

Renowned doctor & Retd Brig Jahan Ara Pal passes away

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Renowned doctor & Pak Army retd officer Jahan Ara Pal passes away

  • As girl student studied in boys’ college Shikarpur reached rank of Brigadier in Armed forces

KARACHI July 27,2021 – Professor Brigadier (Retd) Dr. Jahan Ara Pal, educated at boys’ college Shikarpur passed away on Tuesday.

Dr Dr. Jahan Ara was MCPS, FCPS, DRCOG, MRCOG, FRCOG

From Aligarh University, to a tumultuous migration to Pakistan in emergent circumstances and since, her journey has been a relentless series of “firsts” – one of two girls (sisters) who attained enrollment in an all-boys college Shikarpur for completion of undergraduate studies (opening doors for other female students).

Declined foreign scholarship, chose to join Pak Armed Forces

Jahan Ara Pal was the ‘Best graduate’ of the 1956 graduating class of Dow Medical College, Karachi. Following house job in Cardiology (a coveted specialty, and opportunity available to only the very best) at Civil Hospital Karachi, and declining to avail a scholarship for further training in Britain, she chose to join the Pakistan Armed Forces instead, an affiliation that remained a source of tremendous pride and satisfaction for her.

Set new standards for intellectual pursuits for women

An illustrious career as an officer in the Armed Forces, Dr. Jahan Ara played pivotal roles in setting new standards for intellectual pursuits and attainable goals for women in the field of medicine in Pakistan and in shaping the future of women in the Armed Forces Medical Corps.

She was pivotal in initiating Postgraduate Diploma and Fellowship in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan, after many deliberations with General Burki, someone whom she considered her mentor.

Known not just for her intellect, vision, spirit and an utter commitment to her responsibilities, Dr. Jahan Ara personified elegance, grace and excellence in all facets of her life, an avid disciple of both Urdu and English literature,  an inspiration to generations of young women (and men), and an epitome of professionalism.

Modeled uniform for women doctors in the Armed forces

Many may not know that Dr. Jahan Ara designed and modeled for the uniform for women doctors in the Armed forces and it is she who is credited for the coloured, elegant saris and smart crisp collared uniform shirts (in place of the traditional blouse), that to this day are the designated uniforms for the women doctors of the Pakistan Army, Navy and Air Force.

She was the first recipient of MCPS in Gynecology and Obstetrics in Pakistan from CPSP, in 1968, followed by DRCOG (diploma in Obstetrics from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) of UK in 1970, FCPS (1976) from College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan, MRCOG in 1978, followed by FRCOG.

Research work

Head of the department at PNS Shifa from 1976 to 1987, she was the first to study, define and publish on intrauterine fetal growth profiles in the Pakistani population, to study and publish on relevance of maternal anemia for in utero fetal growth, the first to introduce, implement, practice and teach the art of active management of labor in Pakistan.

From1987 till she bade goodbye to the Army in 1989, Dr. Jahan Ara served as Professor and Head of Department of Obs/Gyn in Army Medical College and Military Hospital, Rawalpindi.

Not promoted to rank of Major General

Despite a scintillating career as an officer in the Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Corps, and as the most decorated officer, with the highest number of commendations, awards, achievements and a service record that was unparalleled, the Armed Forces hierarchy were at that time not ready to consider promoting a female officer to the rank of Major General – a single male voice in a room full of men proposed to defer her candidacy for a later time when the Armed Forces could/perhaps, be better ready for a woman in the position of Major General –and this proposition was accepted by a room full of men.  Her decision to resign from an institution that she loved and had served for more than three decades was swift and firm- she was never the one to tolerate mediocrity nor condone hypocrisy.

After resignation from the Armed Forces, she joined Baqai Medical University, Karachi in 1992 and in less than a year, set up their IVF unit (BIRDS).

She finally joined the Aga Khan University (AKUH) as Chairperson of the OBGYN department focusing on setting standards of professionalism and professional excellence and focusing on the mentoring of the next generations. She was one of the firsts to introduce, implement and teach invasive procedures for prenatal testing (CVS and Amniocentesis) in Pakistan.

She served as the Chairperson of the AKUH OBGYN department till she decided to retire from the profession. She served as an Advisor and Visiting Consultant to PNS Shifa, Combined Military Hospital, Malir Cantonment and Pakistan Air force Hospital, Masroor Base, Karachi.

In 1993 she was further honoured by being appointed as an Emerita Professor in Armed Forces Medical College, Rawalpindi.

Awards

Throughout her illustrious career, she received many military awards for meritorious performance such as Tamgha-e-Jang (1965 & 1971 war); Quaid-e-Azam Centenary Medal, Hijra medal, Democracy Medal, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Military) in 1978 and Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Military) in 1988.

She served as an Editor for ‘Doctor Publications’ and has authored many scientific papers as well as Urdu literature and poetry books; ‘Yaadon ke Sangraize’ and ‘Intikhab-e-Kalaam Ameen Hazeen Sialkoti’ who was her father in law, being her last ventures.

She came from an illustrious literary family of thinkers and writers. Her best friend and cousin Zehra Nigah and her siblings.

She breathed her last on 27th July, 2021.

She is survived by her 3 children Prof Dr Inam Pal, Prof Dr Lubna Pal, Shakil Pal, their spouses Prof Sadiah Ahsan Pal, Dr Sohail Kiyani, Asma Pal, grandchildren Dr Anam Pal, Babar Pal, Jehanzeb & Taimur Kiyani, Zoya and Shehryar Pal.

She wished to be remembered as a proud patriotic Pakistani till the last breath in her body.