Sunday October 01, 2023

Equal opportunities

March 04, 2022

The promotion of Dr Kailash Kumar and Dr Anil Kumar – two Hindu army officers in the Pakistan Army – to the rank of lieutenant colonel is great news for the country’s minority Hindu community. In 2019, these two were in the news when they became the first Hindu majors in the army.

I believe that the Pakistan Army is one of the top national institutions where merit is promoted; where there is no discrimination; and where every eligible citizen is allowed to participate in the recruitment process.

Quaid-e-Azam held a positive opinion about the role of non-Muslim Pakistanis and wanted to ensure equal rights for all citizens in the Muslim-majority country. He also clarified that in the eyes of the state, all citizens are equal regardless of their socio-religious affiliations. He had included several non-Muslims – including Jogendranath Mandal – in his cabinet because of their talent and qualification. According to him, it is the duty of every citizen to try to make Pakistan a great nation.

Today, we sleep peacefully because we know that our brave soldiers are on alert at the borders, making efforts to transform Pakistan into a strong and stable country. They have never been afraid to sacrifice their blood for the country. In the fight against terrorism in the country, around 20 non-Muslim officers have been martyred to date. Indeed, our soldiers played a vital role in national defence during the 1965 and 1971 wars and earned various honours. Many members from the Hindu community are also serving in the Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force. Last year, the PAF made history by recruiting Rahul Dev – a young Hindu pilot from Tharparkar.

I think that the Pakistan armed forces, who are following Quaid-e-Azam’s vision for a tolerant and pluralist society, are a role model for all Pakistani national institutions. The most recent promotion of Hindu officers not only projects the positive image of our country but also fights against the propaganda carried out under the guise of religious freedom.

General Pervez Musharraf played a significant role in the full participation of non-Muslim communities for the betterment of Pakistan. During his tenure, he introduced reserved seats for non-Muslims in parliament. However, these non-Muslim representatives in parliament are not elected by votes. In this regard, I believe that non-Muslims must be given the right to dual vote following the pattern of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) assembly. At least 15 constituencies should be reserved for non-Muslims to elect their representatives.

In the past, the appointment of the late Rana Bhagwan Das as chief justice of the Supreme Court was an encouraging message that any citizen who believes in hard work and professionalism can secure the highest position in the judiciary. It also demonstrated that we may belong to different religious beliefs and have differences of opinion, but Pakistan is our homeland, and all of us are equal citizens under the constitution. The presence of people with diverse backgrounds is a salient feature of institutions in a democratic and civilised society, where they all join hands to move their country towards peace and prosperity.

To include Pakistan in the list of developed countries, we must intensify our efforts to build a society based on tolerance and co-existence. All national institutions, especially the ETPB, should follow in the footsteps of the Pakistan Army and open their doors for all Pakistani citizens without any discrimination.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council. He tweets @RVankwani