These views were expressed by Malik Mohammad Rafiq Awan, father of five Sher sisters who are in the limelight for setting a unique record of passing the Central Superior Service (CSS) exams.
Mr Awan, a retired sub-divisional officer of Iesco, is originally from Haripur’s remote Moorti Maira village, which is now under Tarbela Dam’s water.
He had moved to Rawalpindi in early 80s soon after massive displacement of thousands of families from over 100 villages.
The couple has five daughters;Laila Malik Sher, Shereen Malik Sher, Sassi Malik Sher, Marvi Malik Sher and Zuha Malik Sher, but no son.
Mr Awan said he used to become harsh towards family members and acquaintances whenever they would mention about him having no sons. “When I and my wife are satisfied, others have no reason to taunt us for us not having a son,” he said.
Sher sisters have passed CSS and serving in various departments
Talking to Dawn by phone from his Rawalpindi’s Lalazar residence, Mr Awan said he named his four daughters after the local folklore characters of Laila, Shereen, Sassi and Marvi while Zuha’s name was drawn from the Holy Quran.
“All of their names carried the suffix of their paternal grandfather’s name Malik Sher Mohammad Awan, as my father was the real force behind the privileges and prominencethe entire family enjoys now,” he said.
Mr Awan said he moved against the countryside culture of his remote semi-tribal area and ventured to invest in the best education ofhis daughters.
All of them studiedfrom nursery to grade-10in St Anne’s Presentation Convent High School, Rawalpindi, the institution thatformer premier Benazir Bhutto also attended.
Laila Malik Sher, the eldest among the five Sher sisters, passed CSS during 2008 when she was 21, the youngest CSS officer after doing BA. She later did her master’s in English literature. Laila was true inspiration for her four younger sisters. She is now serving as deputy commissionerIRA Income Tax in Karachi, he told Dawn.
Shereen Malik Sher was the second among her sisters who qualified CSS in 2010 after her BA and she also won the honour of being the youngest CSS officer at age 21. She did her master’s in International Relations during service. Shereen is serving asdirector National Highways Authority, Islamabad, he said.
The streak of successes of Sher sisters continued with Sassi Malik Sher, and Marvi Malik Sher, the third and fourth among the five siblings, respectively, and they both passed the competitive examination during 2017.
Sassi, who completed her MBBS from Gomal Medical College, was now serving as deputy chief executive officer Cantonment Board Chaklala, Rawalpindi.Marvi, who did her master’s in Sociology, had opted to join the Provincial Management Service in her home province KP, and was serving as additional assistant commissioner in Abbottabad.
According to Mr Awan, Sassi was recently engaged with an Abbottabad-based cardiologist and their marriage is scheduled for August 14, 2020 while Laila and Shereen are married.
Zoha passed the CSS examinations, 2019, recently and was going to join Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) office management group. She did her master’s in IR.
Talking to this correspondent by phone, Zuha said when she was born and her father visited her in the hospital some of their relatives were literally crying over birth of the fifth daughter.
“After passing my CSS now all those relatives are busy tirelessly felicitating my father and he says that these are the pending congratulations of my birth that I am receiving at this stage,” she said.
Answering a question, she said daughters were always considereda burdenin the male-dominated society,but their father made all of them his strength.
Marvi Malik Sher said that whatever she and her other sisters achieved was the outcome of their parents unflinching determination.