LAHORE, Dec 19: Harcharan Singh, 19, of the Nankana Sahib, is the first Pakistani Sikh in the country’s 58-year history who has been commissioned in the Pakistan Army as an officer.

The minorities in Pakistan are allowed to sit in all examinations, including the one conducted by Inter Services Selection Board (ISSB), but neither a Hindu nor a Sikh could get selected for the army service since the country’s inception. However, many Christians served in the army.

Harcharan was skeptical this year while appearing in the ISSB’s preliminary tests, thinking that such examinations were not meant for them (Sikhs) as he could not get through the initial phase last year.

“This year, I got through the preliminary phase and appeared in the ISSB examination. However, I was mentally prepared to take admission in BA (Architecture) in the National College of Arts”.

“It was the happiest moment of my life when I came to know about my selection in the army. I am privileged to have this honour which none of my predecessors could ever achieve,” Harcharan told Dawn.

Harcharan, who passed his FSc (pre-engineering) in 2004 with 726 marks, wants the government to open the doors for his community to the law enforcing agencies as well.

Harcharan passed his matriculation from the Government Gurunank High School, Nankana Sahib, with 677 marks. He says that his school should be equipped with modern laboratory and competent teaching staff.

He says when his fellow Sikhs in Nankana Sahib learnt about his selection in the army they really felt proud of him. It has also changed their perception. Now they believe that young Sikhs have a fair chance to join the country’s most prestigious institutions.

Having a younger brother and three elder sisters, he wants his brother to follow suit. He says after the death of his father, a shopkeeper, some seven years ago, the credit of their education goes to his mother. “My mother wants me to earn a good name for the country.”

He says that his family migrated to the Northern Areas at the time of partition and in 1970s shifted to Nankana Sahib.

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