In a first, a Hindu officer has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Pakistan Army. Kelash Kumar is the first Hindu man to reach this position.
Hindu activist Kapil Dev announced the news on Twitter, with the caption ‘History in [the] Making’. Some reports indicate Lt Col Kumar was serving in the army’s Medical corps.
In 2019, Dr Kelash Garvada became the first-ever Hindu Major in the Pakistan Army, and was posted in the Ministry of Defence.
Support for Lt Col Kelash Kumar’s promotion circulated on social media, with many celebrating that a member of one of Pakistan’s religious minority communities was serving the country.
“Congratulations to Lt Col Kelash Kumar. He proudly represents white in Pakistani flag”, wrote journalist Waseem Abbasi.
“As Muslim Pakistani This is an absolutely proud moment for me to see A Hindu Pakistani breaking the glass ceilings […] This is the type of Pakistan Jinnah always dreamt of,” wrote one commentator.
“Small but concrete steps towards a tolerant Pakistan. Tolerance, love and internal dialogue makes a nation prosper”, another commentator noted.
The 2017 census recorded the population of Hindus in Pakistan at 4.4 million, or 2.14 per cent of the total population, the majority of whom are settled in Sindh. Rights activists say that Hindus in Pakistan have been historically discriminated against for certain jobs.