Pakistan elects first female Dalit senator

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Pakistan elected its first female senator from the lowest Dalit caste in weekend polls which also saw the ruling party strengthen its hand ahead of a general election in the Muslim-majority country.

The surprise victory of opposition candidate Krishna Kumari Kohli in the Senate election stirred a wave of optimism on social media, as Pakistanis celebrated the rare success for a woman from a marginalised community at the bottom of the Hindu caste hierarchy.

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

“Kudos to PPP for electing #KrishnaKohli.... Our parliament should have representatives of all religions, classes & genders in pursuit of true democracy,” tweeted rights activist Jibran Nasir.

Pakistan’s Hindus, who make up around two percent of the country’s 200 million people, have long faced economic and social discrimination.

Members of parliament and of provincial assemblies voted Saturday to fill half the seats in the Senate, or upper house, before elections due this summer for the lower house of parliament.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 15 of the 52 seats up for election to secure a total of 33 spots in the 104-seat upper house. Support from allies is likely to give it a dominating majority.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won 12 and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of former cricket star Imran Khan came third with six.

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