Pakistan Elects its First Dalit Hindu Woman Senator

Krishna Kumari Kohli was nominated by the Opposition to the upper house of the Pakistan parliament.


The first Hindu Dalit senator, Krishna Kumari Kohli, was nominated in the upper house of the parliament in Pakistan, AFP reported. Kohli, the 39-year-old Opposition candidate, was nominated for a minority senate seat from the Sindh Assembly by Pakistan People’s Party last month. The election was for half of the seats in the senate for six-year terms.

Kohli’s win on March 3 brought in a wave of optimism on social media, as it was a rare win for a woman belonging to a marginalized caste in an already minority religion. The first Hindu woman elected to the senate in Pakistan was Ratna Bhagwandas Chawla in 2006. With Kohli’s election, the minority representation in Pakistan People Party has gone up to six. Hindus make up 2 per cent of the country’s population.

“I feel proud, I am thankful to Pakistan People’s Party that they nominated me,” Kohli, who is also known as “Kishoo Lal,” told the agency on March 4. “I will continue to work for the rights of the oppressed people, especially for the empowerment of women, their health and education”

Her nomination was also greeted with cheers on social media:

Kohli hails from a remote village in Nagarparkar district in Sindh province. Born to a poor peasant in February 1979 and married at the age of 16 when she was studying in the 9th grade, she joined the party as a social activist along with her brother.  Her brother went on to become the chairman of Union Council Berano. Kohli and her family members were held for three years as bonded labor in a private jail allegedly owned by the landlord of Kunri of Umerkot district, as per a Dawn report. They were freed after a police raid on the land.

Kohli, who completed her masters in sociology from the Sindh University in 2013, has worked for the rights of marginalized communities living in her district and surrounding areas. The family is said to be descendants of freedom fighter Rooplo Kohli, who fought against the British when they attacked Sindh in 1857.

The ruling party in Pakistan, Muslim League-Nawaz, won 15 seats in the senate, making up a total of 33 spots in the 104-seat upper house. This, along with support from allies, have ensured the party’s domination in the lead-up to general elections this summer. The Pakistan People’s Party  came second, followed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

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