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First Hindu Dalit woman elected to Pakistan’s Senate

Kirshna Kumari Kolhi has actively worked for the rights of the Hindu community and has been a vocal critic of the treatment meted out to scheduled castes.

world Updated: Mar 04, 2018 21:14 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan,Pakistan senate,Hindu woman
In this Feb 12, 2018 photo, Krishna Kumari, Kolhi works in her office in Hyderabad, Pakistan.(AP Photo)

Krishna Kumari Kolhi has become the first Hindu Dalit woman to be elected to the Pakistan Senate.

The 39-year-old activist was nominated by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto for a reserved seat for women from Sindh, from where she won in what experts are considering a surprise victory on Saturday.

“I feel proud, I am thankful to Pakistan People’s Party that they nominated me,” Kohli told AFP on Sunday.

Kohli has actively worked for the rights of the Hindu community and has been a vocal critic of the treatment meted out to scheduled castes. She joined the PPP as a social activist along with her brother.

Born to a poor family in a remote village in Sindh, her family was held captive as bonded labourers for at least three years. They were eventually rescued after the police raided their employer’s farmland.

Her brother Veerji Kohli is a prominent human rights activist who was charged with murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017. Fellow activists and the PPP say the charges were politically motivated. After spending nearly a year in prison, Kolhi was freed by court order on March 2 – just one day before his sister was elected to the Senate.

-PML-N gains control of Senate-

The ruling PML-N party gained control of the Senate after winning 15 seats in the elections on Saturday after suffering a set-back in Balochistan. PML-N backed candidates won 11 out of total 12 seats from Punjab, with the ruling party losing one seat to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) organiser Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar in a hotly contested election.

Meanwhile, the PPP pulled off a surprise win in 12 seats — including that of Kohli — and experts say the party will likely get the support of independent candidates, which may further allow it to consolidate its position in the senate.

PTI continued to lose momentum, coming in third.

The biggest loser was the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), which could bag only one seat despite having 37 seats in the Sindh Assembly.

First Published: Mar 04, 2018 13:59 IST