No matter how the role of a woman is stereotyped in our society; there still are many inspirational examples who decide to walk against the waves and prove themselves to be as effective as men in playing their part for the betterment of society.
One such example is Aabgeenay Khan, a symbol of women empowerment and inspiration for many young girls, who topped the most competitive test of Pakistan with overall 24th position.
She shared her success story with team Womenfront and debunked the myth that women are lesser beings.
AK: Thank you for the kind words.
WF:Tell us something about your educational and professional background.
AK: I had my early schooling from Fauji Foundation Model School, Lahore. I then did F.Sc (Pre-Engineering) from Kinnaird College, Lahore, went on to do B.E. Electrical Engineering from NUST. I recently wrapped up MS Electrical Engineering degree from LUMS.
WF: As everyone starts dreaming of a future career in childhood, so what were your dreams? Did you always aspire to be a CSP officer?
AK: My mother has always been the figurehead of inspiration for me. I wanted to do something unconventional, a path usually not treaded by females. Civil Services was a field I turned to during my last year of undergraduation. What baffled and intrigued me was the vast scope it provided to the individuals to do something that directly affects the life of other citizens. In no other field one can expect to be entrusted with such a meaningful purpose and responsibility.
WF: Who was the inspiration behind your decision to go for CSS?
AK: A number of highly respected honest and upright females who consistently made their mark in this field inspired me to join this service. Two such personalities include Dr. Maleeha Lodhi and Nargis Sethi.
WF: What were the hurdles you faced during the journey being a female aspirant?
AK: CSS is a long process. It takes almost one and a half year to finally see the fruit. The preparation time in itself is another story. Being a female aspirant you get to hear often amusing but discouraging comments of people who would call it an absolute waste of resources and time. I got to hear that too but in the end it is your own persistence that matters.
WF: What were the toughest and the easiest parts in the whole process of CSS exam?
AK: For me, the toughest had been clearing the written examination while the easiest was the interview part.
WF: Who deserves the credit for your success?
AK: My parents, who invested a lot of their patience, hard work and time in making me who I am today. My younger sister, who has always been my supporting couch during the emotionally strenuous journey. A host of friends and well wishers too who have consistently prayed for my success.
WF: Now you are about to enter into state’s working body, what difficulties you think you will encounter being a woman and what is your strategy to deal?
AK: In Pakistan, women in any field are bound to expect some sort of resistance initially. I am too mentally prepared for that. I believe that with uprighteousness and a no-nonsense attitude you set the precedents for future interaction.
WF: In our society, males are considered superior than females in many aspects. Pakistan can flourish if this remains the mindset of common people?
AK: No it cannot. A general sensitization regarding that has been developed in the public but it would still take two to three decades for the idea to get firmly entrenched in the mindsets. In the meanwhile what we as a woman can do is to keep challenging the obsolete views.
WF: A woman personality that has inspired you the most in your life?
AK: My mother has always been the source of inspiration for me.
WF: Your message to female CSS aspirants?
AK: Be very clear and focused about your goal. Nothing and no one should deter you from your path if you have made a decision.
WF: When you started your preparation? Your study timings and source of information?
AK: My preparation for the final attempt in earnest started one and a half month ago before examination since I didn’t have time to do it alongside MS and thesis. I mainly consulted the books recommended by FPSC and online international forums and newspapers. A wider study helps in formulating a clearer and an informed view.
WF: Your strategy to memorize so much of data?
AK: Making bullet points and using mnemonics. With the passage of time, during the preparation, you get a clear understanding of what should be retained and what is perfunctory.
WF: What do you think students should join academies? Either they are helpful or just making money?
AK: For an aspirant starting from scratch, academy does provide a guiding beacon. But to avail the full benefits of that, an aspirant needs to make efforts on his/her own too.
WF: Why some subjects are scoring while others are not?
AK: For the last two to three years, that myth is debunked every year when you look at the erratic scoring trends.
WF: Why do candidates mostly fail in English essay?
AK: Improper techniques, poor choice of topic and lack of practice generally contribute towards failure in English essay.
WF: Two difficult questions you have faced in interview? And what was your response.
AK: I didn’t face any tough questions . My interview was very opinionated and in a very relaxed environment.
WF: Any tips on selection of optional questions?
AK: Optional subjects should be selected keeping in mind your own interest and general understanding of the subject.
WF: Inspiration to go for CSS?
AK: Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Nargis Sethi.
WF: Your qualification?
AK: MS Electrical Engineering
WF: Your major subjects?
AK: IR, ILaw, Psychology, Gender Studies, Public Administration
WF: Schooling medium?
WF: Your source of study?
AK: FPSC recommended books, Dawn, The Diplomat, Foreign Affairs.
WF: Academy you joined?
AK: World Times Institute
WF: Group preferences?
AK: PAS, PCS, IRS
AK: Reading (contemporary fiction and non-fiction), paper crafts, making caricatures.
WF: Women who inspired you the most?
AK: My mother, Mariam Mirzakhani, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
WF: Favourite quote?
AK: ” If you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss gazes back at you”
WF: Any CSP from your family?
AK: No I am the first one.
WF: Why CSS?
AK: Provides the satisfaction of positively impacting the life of common people.
WF: Secret of success?
AK: Consistency and Perseverance.
WF: Role model?
AK: Dr. Ruth Pfau.