The Sind Women’s National Guard is a small group of about 25 to 30 teenagers who wear white uniforms, learn first aid and self defense, and encourage citizens to vote.
This photograph is taken in 1947 and Zeenat Rashid is 18 years old. Her father, Haji Abdullah Haroon, passes away five years earlier. Her mother, Lady Nusrat Abdullah Haroon, continues to be a dominant figure in the Pakistan Movement. As a captain in the Sind Women’s National Guard, Zeenat Rashid gathers 35 school friends to form the caucus of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s young women’s contingent.
She explains: “The Quaid-i-Azam said to us: ‘The women are standing shoulder to shoulder with the men. What are you young people doing?’” Zeenat Rashid’s answer to her hero was: “We are ready; what do you want us to do?”
Later, in an interview with Life magazine, she recounts that:
“We were a symbol. Mr Jinnah wanted to show people that in Pakistan, women would do things. We didn’t cover our heads! What nonsense. We were a symbol of progress.”
Her grandest moment? It is 1947 and she is practicing with the Sind Women’s National Guard, brandishing a lathi – it is then that Margaret Bourke-White captures these magical moments. The one above is part of a series of images in Life magazine’s cover story on Pakistan in January 1948.
Extract from Dawn’s report on “the Dawn of Pakistan”