Farhat Zahoor Abbasi — first Muslim-Pakistani woman to join Las Vegas Police Department
LAS VEGAS: Farhat Zahoor Abbasi has become the first Muslim Pakistani woman to join the Las Vegas Police Department, with the distinction of scoring the sixth position (rank 6) among four thousand applicants and then completing the training with a gold medal.
Born in Malkot village of district Abbottabad, Farhat followed the family tradition and received her education in Rawalpindi. The reason being that her home town lacked development due to the negligence of successive governments.
Coming with an academic background in Journalism and a brief experience with Daily Pakistan and Pakistan Ausaf, she was offered a position at Pakistan Television (PTV), but Abbasi could not accept as she, at one point, was working with a World Bank project.
She moved to United States (US) fourteen years ago. Married to an oral surgeon from Srinagar, who is also a US army reservist as a Major, there was no need for her to work to help support the family financially and therefore, she assemed the role of a full time home maker.
Along with fulfilling her domestic responsibilities, Farhat also served as an ambassador of Pakistani culture.
Mother of three and her family being her top priority, she felt that she was not being a very productive individual. Yet, spending her free time on online surfing and shopping was not her cup of tea.
Last year Farhat’s youngest kid started kindergarten. The same year she touched another benchmark, she turned forty.
While searching for her career options, she thought of becoming a commercial pilot, there is a training school near her residence. She even tried out a few introductory flights, impressing the instructor with her confidence and learning skills.
In the meantime, she came across the hiring announcement of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMP) on Twitter and on impulse applied. A couple of weeks later she got an email asking her to show up for her physical test.
“When I got the email I was like, is there no age limit for this? Didn’t they see that I was born in 1973!” she told.
Farhat ended up clearing her physical test and then went on to clear her written test as well.
Then came the mother of all the tests, the oral board, which is considered to be the toughest of them all. This two hour long intimidating interview, decides if the LVMP department wants you or not.
At the end of the interview, one of the officers, while seeing her off, couldn’t contain her excitement and told Farhat that they were really impressed by her and welcomed her in advance. She ended by scoring 98.5 on the oral test which is a dream score for the candidates.
“This entire process was really amazing, especially given the fact that I had never studied or worked in the U.S,” recalls the lady.
As the selection process and background check was completed and she along with seventy-one other successful candidates was taken to the academy, she had celebrated her forty-first birthday as well.
The age bracket of the rest of the batch remained between, twenty-two to twenty-seven.
Explaining her ‘Muslim-Pakistani’ status which became a barrier initially, Farhat says, “I was asked so many questions, some that I found so silly that I used to laugh. They wanted to know if women were allowed to drive in Pakistan, if we were allowed to go to school or go out without a veil etc. Many a times I used to show them our pictures and Google Pakistan’s fashion shows and actresses.”
Once the ice was broken, Farhat gave them the full Pakistani hospitality experience. They got to eat desi food with her and became friends with her.
For them she became the Pakistan.
When asked if she had ever come across any unpleasant stereotypical discrimination against her in all the fourteen plus years she has called U.S home, Farhat responded that she has not come across any such incident.
This is not to deny that these things don’t happen, just like there is no denying that Pakistan has its own set of issues. However, it is unfair to just keep on highlighting the negativity, as that is not a true representation of any society.
“I am proud to be a Pakistani and I never hide my identity. In fact, I highlight it at any given opportunity and this is my way of contributing towards breaking stereotypes about my country and its people.”