“New York is a very fast city,” my brother who had returned to Pakistan after studying in US told me. “Cohen is Jewish name,” was the other information he gave me. This was way back 17 years ago when I was still in Pakistan and was writing for the New York-based magazine Bank Technology News International. The two editors there were Stephanie Cohen and Jackie Cohen. The money for the submissions was decent: 50 cents per word.



One article that I wrote for them included interviewing Bangladesh Noble prize winner Mohammad Yunus, founder of the micro-credit Grameen Bank. The deal was once my article is published, I will get paid through wire transfer. However, my article had yet to be published when I got an email from Jackie Cohen. She informed me that it was her second last day at the BTNi, the acronym for the Bank Technology News International, and since she did not want the money to be stuck in any way once she left the organization, she was wire transferring me my money before she left.

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That was my first experience with Jews. My dealing with Jackie Cohen was wonderful to say the least. Karachi, commercial capital of Pakistan, the city where I was raised and where my grandfathers held considerable clout was once a very diverse, pluralistic city. At the time, Hindus controlled the businesses and government prior to the ill-conceived 1947 British partition of the Indian subcontinent. Jews in Karachi were a small but vibrant community. Karachi had a Jewish council member Abraham Reuben and the city also had a Jewish synagogue in the oldest but best neighborhood that used to be called Gandhi Garden. There was also a Jewish cemetery, within a radius of one mile. Muslim mobs demolished the synagogue after the first Arab-israel war and the minuscule Jewish community slowly vanished. There is one brave Jewish man still living in Karachi, however. 



After I came to the US, my best contact in the think-tanks was Selig S. Harrison, who had known and written about my uncle in his seminal work “In Afghanistan’s Shadow: Baluch nationalism and Soviet temptations.” Harrison, who is of Jewish descent, had always espoused the cause of the rights of the Baloch people of my native Balochistan. In the final years before his retirement, Selig S. Harrison became an advocate for an independent Balochistan. That is what many Jews call tikkun olam. Balochistan is on the Straits of Hormuz, and is presently in the eyes of a storm as the Baloch never accepted Pakistan but were merged in the Islamic republic of Pakistan at the point of gun on March 27, 1948. The Baloch want to secede from the Islamic republic of Pakstan and be friends with Israel and India. To crush their movement, Pakistan is using the same war crimes it once used in the former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, according to Press reports. About two weeks ago, when Pakistan soldiers raided Mehi, hometown of Balochistan militant leader Dr Allah Nazar, in Mashkay they killed his elder brother, two nephews and seven other close relatives and dragged their dead bodies, tied behind army trucks, from Mehi to another town named Nokjo. Before leaving Mehi, Pakistan troops burned down Baloch homes.



It is true that millions of children in Pakistan are taught at religious seminaries that Jews are against Muslims and Hitler was good because he killed Jews. Baloch people are different from Pakistanis since they do not hate Jews, Hindus or Christians. Unfortunately, Pakistan and most notably its infamous Inter-Services Intelligence is trying to promote different Islamist organizations in Balochistan. There are reports of presence and growth of the Islamic State in Balochistan. Baloch are looking forward to Jews in general and the state of Israel in particular to support their freedom movement. There are many advocates among Baloch, who are now living in the West, for strong relationship with Israel and one hopes the Jewish state will reach out to them, even if they are stateless today, for the good of all.


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