ISLAMABAD: A 25-year-old practising homeopath has become the first Sikh to be appointed as a traffic warden in Pakistan.
Gulab Singh, who hails from the holy town of Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, joined the service in the rank of a Sub Inspector on Wednesday and within two days has become a sort of local celebrity in Lahore where he is posted.
Singh, who has a doctorate in homeopathy, was flooded with greetings from a number of motorists and even children who forced their parents to stop the car so that they could meet him.
"Since yesterday, I have been getting greetings, such as 'Sat Sri Akaal, Jo Bolay So Nihal' and 'Ballay, Ballay' from car and bus drivers, motorcyclists and children. Lahoris are really very loving people and these are unforgettable moments for me," said Gulab Singh.
"Joining the force as a Sub Inspector was a dream come true for me," he was quoted as saying in Daily Times.
Son of a farmer Manna Singh, Gulab has four brothers and two sisters. He is the youngest of the siblings. Gulab completed his matriculation in Nankana district, graduation in Lahore and then received a doctorate in homeopathy from Bahawalpur.
He also runs a clinic, which Singh said he might have to shut down because of his "new and demanding" posting. He is the second Sikh to be appointed in any of the forces, the first being in Army. The Pakistan Army has also appointed a Hindu.
Gulab did not tell his family when he applied for the Sub Inspector post. He informed them only after he got selection, which turned out to be a "delightful surprise" for them.
"The attitude of my fellow trainees and officers was very good towards me. Nobody ever forced me to do anything against my religious beliefs," Singh said.
He said he never had any problems wearing his kara (bangle), kirpan (dagger) with him. As he was a vegetarian, green meals were arranged for him in the mess during the training period, he added.
"I am very grateful to my officers for this gesture."
Gulab, an avid fan of Punjabi bhangra whose favourites are Abrar-ul-Haq, Harbajhan Maan and Waris Baig, has command over Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, and Sindhi.
"I can also speak English, but not very fluently," he said.