Krishna Kholi: Pakistan's first Hindu Dalit senator
Hindu woman elected to Pakistan’s senate in historic first.
A woman from Pakistan’s marginalised community, at the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy and a minority in a Muslim-majority country, has been elected to the Senate for the first time ever.
Krishna Kumari Kohli, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), hails from the so-called untouchables, the lowest rung of the caste system that still prevails in Pakistan and neighbouring India.
Politicians in national and four provincial assemblies on Saturday elected half the 104-member Senate to six-year terms.
Kholi, who worked in the fields alongside her parents as a child, will take the oath of office later this month.
“I feel delighted, this was unthinkable for me to reach the Senate,” she told The Associated Press.
Kholi, who was born and raised in a remote district, attributed her success to her parents, who encouraged her to pursue her education and eventually helped her earn a university degree.
She later worked for a non-governmental organization before joining the Pakistan People’s Party of the assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
The party nominated her for a seat reserved for minority candidates from the Sindh province, where it holds a majority.
“I will continue to work for the rights of the oppressed people, especially for the empowerment of women, their health and education,” she said.
Pakistan’s Hindus make up around two percent of the country’s 200 million people.
The victory of opposition candidate Kohli in the Senate election stirred a wave of optimism on social media, as Pakistanis celebrated the rare success for a woman from a marginalised community at the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy.
“Kudos to PPP for electing #KrishnaKohli…. Our parliament should have representatives of all religions, classes & genders in pursuit of true democracy,” tweeted rights activist Jibran Nasir.
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