Major Dr Kelash Kumar and Major Dr Aneel Kumar have been promoted to the post of Lieutenant Colonel.
Two Hindu officers in the Pakistan Army have been elevated to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel for the first time, Pakistan’s official media has reported, a move that has garnered considerable interest on social media in this conservative Muslim-majority country.
Major Dr Kelash Kumar and Major Dr Aneel Kumar have been promoted to the post of Lieutenant Colonel after the Pakistan Army Promotion Board approved their promotions, media reports said. Kelash Kumar, who hails from Tharparkar district in Sindh province, had also become the country’s first-ever Major from the Hindu community in 2019, according to local media reports.
He was born in 1981 and joined the Pakistan Army in 2008 as a captain after completing his MBBS from the Liaquat University of Medical Health and Sciences in Jamshoro.
Aneel Kumar is a year younger to Kelash, hails from Badin, also in Sindh province. He had joined the Pakistan Army in 2007.
Kelash Kumar was awarded the Tamaga-e-Dafa (A Siachen Medal) for spending 36 days at the world’s highest post saddle in the Baltoro sector near K2, at an elevation of roughly 22,000 feet. He also received Tamga-e-Baqa and Tamga-e-Azam for his efforts in combating terrorism.
Hindus and people from other minority communities were not allowed to join the Pakistan Army until 2000. Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan. According to official estimates, around 75 lakh Hindus live in the country. The majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province where they share culture, traditions and language with Muslim residents.
Earlier in February, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa had said that monitories in Pakistan are equal citizens and it is the job of the state to protect them, the military had said in a statement.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief expressed these remarks during a visit to Nagarparkar, Sindh’s Tharparker district, where he spent the day with troops and was also briefed by the local commander on operational readiness of the formation. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry called Lt Col Kumar “pride” of the country.