In one of the rarest of such incidents, a Saudi-based entrepreneur, who is originally from Kerala, has been appointed as the Major General of Kyrgyzstan, the top military position in the Central Asian country.
Defence Minister of Kyrgyzstan Ali Mirza has appointed Shaikh Rafik Mohammed as the Major General of the army at an official ceremony held in the country.
According to Omar Abu Baker, the media adviser of Rafik, it is a rare military position occupied by an overseas Keralite.
Rafik, whose family resides in Dubai, holds Kyrgyzstan nationality conferred by its former President Kurmanbek Saliyevich Bakiyev whom he casually met in his 20s while working in Iran, Khaleej Times reported.
Rafik was invited by the Kyrgyzstan government to take up the prestigious military position in view of his earlier contribution to the country.
Rafik left Kerala at a young age and he could complete only his primary school education. He went to Mumbai where the young man learnt all the tricks of business and from there to the Middle East. He has worked in the UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia and KyrgyzstanOmar Abu Baker, Media adviser of Rafik
Rafik migrated from Calicut in Kerala before completing his fifth-grade schooling culminated in his recent appointment as Major General of Kyrgyzstan.
While there are scores of successful business tycoons in the region, this could well be the first time a Malayali has occupied a top military leadership of a foreign country.
Rafik earlier worked as an adviser to the former Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Saliyevich Bakiyev whom he met in Iran where the young Indian entrepreneur was developing a major steel plant.
After selling the successful project to the Iranian government, Rafik went to Kyrgyzstan and presented a similar project to Kurmanbek, then a governor who was preparing to contest presidential elections.
Following Kurmanbek’s election victory, he appointed young Rafik as his chief adviser - a milestone in his career in his mid-twenties, the report said.
Rafik developed a wide network of friends in the Central Asian country which has witnessed a rapid flow of foreign investment and reversal of socialist model of development to a capitalist mode of production.