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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
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  • 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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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons
Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.