It is with deep sorrow that we came to hear about our esteemed colleague Dr Jahan Ara Pal’s demise.
Our heartfelt condolence goes out to her family and friends. Professor Brigadier (Retd.) Dr Jahan Ara Pal, MCPS, FCPS, DRCOG, MRCOG, FRCOG joined our AKU family in 1994 remaining an integral part of it for nearly two decades. She demonstrated exemplary leadership, hard work and dedication through her role as Acting Chairperson of the ObGyn department.
Following a tumultuous migration to Pakistan, her life journey was nothing if not a relentless series of trailblazing moments. She opened the doors for many female students by being one of only two girls who attained enrollment in an all-boys college in Shikarpur for undergraduate studies.
She was awarded the 'Best Graduate' title at her 1956 graduation ceremony at Dow Medical College, Karachi. Following a house job in cardiology at Civil Hospital Karachi, a coveted specialty, and opportunity available to only the very best, and declining to avail a scholarship for further training in Britain, she chose to join the Pakistan Armed Forces instead. This affiliation remained a source of tremendous pride and satisfaction for her.
What followed was an illustrious career in the Armed Forces, where she played a pivotal role 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 instrumental in initiating the Postgraduate Diploma and Fellowship in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan.
She is also the first-ever recipient of MCPS in Gynaecology and Obstetrics in Pakistan from CPSP in 1968, followed by DRCOG (diploma in Obstetrics from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) of UK in 1970, FCPS in 1976 from College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan, MRCOG in 1978, followed by FRCOG.
As head of the department at PNS Shifa from 1976 to 1987, Dr Jahan Ara was the first to study, define and publish on intrauterine fetal growth profiles in the Pakistani population, to study and publish on the relevance of maternal anaemia for in utero fetal growth, and to introduce, implement, practice and teach the art of active management of labor in Pakistan. No doubt, a great milestone for that time. She also served as an adviser 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 at the Armed Forces Medical College, Rawalpindi.
In addition to her academic excellence and intellect, she was also known for her vision, spirit and commitment to her responsibilities. She is remembered fondly as someone who personified elegance, grace and excellence in all facets of her life, was an avid disciple of both Urdu and English Literature, an inspiration to generations of people, and an epitome of professionalism. Many may not know that she designed and modeled the uniform for women doctors in the Armed Forces and it is she, who is credited with the elegant saris and smart crisp collared uniform shirts that we see to this day. She had a flair for style that remains ever so timeless.
Despite a scintillating career as a decorated officer in the Pakistan Armed Forces Medical Corps, she bade goodbye to the Army in 1989. The reluctance of the Armed Forces at that time to promote her to the rank of Major General resulted in her firm resignation after three decades. After her resignation, she joined Baqai Medical University, Karachi, in 1992 setting up their IVF unit (BIRDS) in less than a year. We at the Aga Khan University are honoured to have had her as the Chairperson of the ObGyn department, where she stayed till her retirement. Her focus on setting new standards of professionalism and mentoring the next generation was admirable. She was one of the first to introduce, implement and teach invasive procedures for prenatal testing (CVS and Amniocentesis) in Pakistan. Throughout her illustrious career, Dr Jahan Ara received several military awards and accolades for meritorious performances 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 authored many scientific papers as well as Urdu Literature and poetry books including ‘Yaadon ke Sangraize’ & ‘Intikhab-e-Kalaam Ameen Hazeen Sialkoti.’
She breathed her last on 27th July 2021.
She wished to be remembered as a proud patriotic Pakistani till her last breath. It was truly a privilege to have known Dr Jahan Ara Pal and witness her greatness and the legacy she built. I am personally grateful to have been one of her thousands of students. Whilst she expected a lot from all of us, she was extremely kind and recognised everyone’s efforts and made sure everyone got a chance to learn.
Her incredible legacy is survived by her three children Prof Dr Inam Pal, Prof Dr Lubna Pal and Shakil Pal, their spouses Prof Sadiah Ahsan Pal, Dr Sohail Kiyani and Asma Pal, and grandchildren Dr Anam Pal, Babar Pal, Jehanzeb and Taimur Kiyani, Zoya and Shehryar Pal. May she rest in eternal peace. Dr Adil Haider,Dean, AKU Medical College, Pakistan.