KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — The first woman from Pakistan’s tiny minority Hindu community is poised to become lawmaker next month, after the country’s opposition party nominated her for the upcoming Senate elections, officials said Monday.
According to Nasir Shah, the spokesman in the provincial government of Sindh province, the opposition Pakistan People’s Party asked its lawmakers to vote for Krishna Kumari in the March 3 elections for the upper house of parliament.
Kumari will be the first female Hindu lawmaker in Pakistan since 1947, when Pakistan gained independence from Britain, he said.
Pakistani parties usually nominate wealthy or influential people for the Senate, but Kumari was overjoyed with the news.
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Because her family was so poor, she said she never dared dream of becoming a lawmaker.
“I am grateful to my party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. I am thankful to the party’s leadership. I will do my best for the rights of the oppressed people,” she told The Associated Press.
Kumari said she faced a “slave-like situation” during her childhood in the remote village of Nagarparkar in Sindh province, where she worked on the farm of a feudal landlord who was abusive to his workers. After winning a seat in the Senate, she will be sitting next to many of today’s powerful landowners in Pakistan.
Despite the family’s poverty, her parents encouraged her education and she got a university degree.
Kumari has worked as a social worker and also for a Pakistani charity seeking to create awareness among people about the importance of education and the struggle to achieve basic human rights, guaranteed under Pakistan’s constitution but often trampled upon by landowners and tribal chieftains.
Associated Press Writer Munir Ahmad in Islamabad contributed to this report.