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Pakistan’s “Last Jew” Fishel Benkhald Recognized by the Government

Benkhald was born in Karachi in 1987 to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother

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Fishel Benkhald, the
Fishel Benkhald, the "last jew" of Pakistan.Twitter
  • Fishel Benkhald is often referred as the “last jew” of Pakistan
  • He was originally registered as a Muslim
  • The government has finally recognized him as a Jew

Pakistan, June 30, 2017– Pakistani government has finally recognized its “last jew” when Fishel Benkhald was allowed by the interior ministry to change his religion from Islam to Judaism. It is an unprecedented move by the Muslim-majority nation.

Fishel, who is a 29-year-old outspoken activist was often referred to as the “last jew” of Pakistan, was originally registered as a Muslim.

Benkhald was born in Karachi in 1987 to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother. He was registered as Faisal in his national identity documents.After the death of his parents in 1990s, Benkhald identified himself as a Jew during the ongoing census.

After going through several rounds of appeals and several months of bureaucratic paperwork, the interior ministry finally approved his application seeking “conversion/correction” of his religion. In his appeal, Benkhald had insisted that his religion be changed on his national identity card.

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Benkhald claims to be the only person of his faith in Pakistan. He is a resident of Karachi at the moment.

The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) is not known for entertaining such requests commonly on the grounds that an applicant’s faith is different from the father’s. NADRA has not allowed members of the Ahmadi religious sect to proclaim themselves as Muslims so far.

Muslims have to sign an affidavit with NADRA that they are not Ahmadis or “Qadiyanis”.

Peter Jacob, who heads a faith-based organization in Lahore said, “It is a very sensitive issue where people have been killed either way.”

Benkhald thanked the interior ministry and NADRA for granting him the right to practice the religion of his choice in a telephonic conversation with The Express Tribune paper.

“I studied Islam in childhood. But I never practiced it as a religion.” Said Benkhald. He also added that he would consider the positive development in his case as a treat from Pakistani authorities for the upcoming Passover, a spring festival that commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.

Despite Benkhald’s claim of being the “last jew”, NADRA is saying that there are 745 registered Jewish families in the nation.

– prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram. Twitter: @NikitaTayal6 

 

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Fight Against Terrorism: Iran, Pakistan Agree To Set Up Joint Border ‘Reaction Force’

Stressing that "no third country" could harm Iran-Pakistan ties, an apparent reference to the United States, Rohani said Tehran was ready to boost trade and business ties with Islamabad.

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Iranian President Hassan Rohani (left) and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reviewing an honor guard in Tehran on April 22. RFERL

Iranian President Hassan Rohani and visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have agreed to set up a joint border “reaction force” to counter terrorism, Iranian state media reported.

“We agreed to create a joint rapid reaction force at the borders for combatting terrorism,” Rohani was quoted as saying on April 22 during a joint press conference with Khan, who was officially welcomed in the Iranian capital earlier in the day.

The announcement comes following tensions between the two countries who have in recent months accused each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.

“Pakistan will not allow any militant group to operate” from its soil, Khan said at the press conference while adding that the problem of terrorism was “increasing differences” between both countries.

“So it was very important for me to come here and come with our security chief that we resolve this issue,” Khan said.

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The visit comes a day after Pakistan asked Iran to take action against terrorist groups believed to be behind the killing of 14 Pakistani soldiers earlier this month. Pixabay

Citing a militant attack on Pakistani security forces in Baluchistan on April 18, he said, Pakistan’s security chief will be meeting his Iranian counterpart on April 22 to discuss how both countries can cooperate in not allowing their soil to be used by militant groups.

Stressing that “no third country” could harm Iran-Pakistan ties, an apparent reference to the United States, Rohani said Tehran was ready to boost trade and business ties with Islamabad.

For his part, Khan said his visit to Tehran aimed to “find ways to increase trade and cooperation…in energy and other areas,” noting that two-way trade was “very limited.”

Khan arrived in Iran on April 21 on his first official visit to the Islamic republic for talks set to focus on strengthening bilateral ties, “fighting terrorism, and safeguarding borders,” Iranian state media reported.

The two countries have in recent months accused each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.

The two-day trip started with a stopover in the holy city of Mashhad, where Khan visited the shrine of Imam Reza, who is revered by Shi’ite Muslims.

The visit comes a day after Pakistan asked Iran to take action against terrorist groups believed to be behind the killing of 14 Pakistani soldiers earlier this month.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on April 20 that 15 gunmen wearing military uniforms ambushed a bus in southwestern Balochistan Province on April 18, killing 14 Pakistani Army personnel.

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“We agreed to create a joint rapid reaction force at the borders for combatting terrorism,” Rohani was quoted as saying on April 22 during a joint press conference with Khan, who was officially welcomed in the Iranian capital earlier in the day. Pixabay

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a letter to the Iranian government that the assailants came from an alliance of three Baluch terrorist organizations based in Iran.

Qureshi told reporters that Khan would take up the matter with Iranian authorities.

Earlier this year, Iran called on Pakistan to take action against a militant group behind a deadly attack on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

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Twenty-seven IRGC members were killed in the February suicide car bombing near the border with Pakistan.

The Sunni Muslim extremist group Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for the attack in southeastern Iran. (RFERL)