Comment on Prof.(Dr) Khurshid Alam’s article ‘In the Land of Ignorance’

Richard BenkinFirst, my profound thanks to THE PASHTUN TIMES and to Professor Khurshid Alam.  I believe that he and I would have several particular disagreements, while at the same time agreeing on the most important principles.  It would lead to lively and dynamic discussion in which we both are likely to learn–all to the betterment of our Pashtun brothers and sisters and for the cause of human rights.

From the Pashtun point of view, nobody can love a Pashtun child the way a Pashtun mother can.

Obviously, our skills lay in different areas, and I want to comment on two aspects of the perspective I bring.  The first is taking responsibility for past behaviors and for driving a solution to our problems.  This, I might add, is what my Jewish people learned after centuries of oppression and which led us to bring forth the rebirth of Israel.  Like the occupied people of Pakistan, our land was under occupation; first by the Romans who expelled many of us; then by the Arabs; then the Turks, who sponsored pogroms against our returnees from exile (for example in 1929); and finally by the British.  The British were far more powerful than the Pakistanis, however, not as ruthless or willing to abandon their humanity.  Our advantage is that by 1948, the British were weary of their power; whereas the Pakistanis are weary only of some aspects of their occupation.

The key for us was knowing that no matter who was at fault for our predicament, it was up to us to take our fate in our own hands:  find our strengths, learn our adversary’s weaknesses, and find the way to maximize.  But again, we knew that no one would do it for us.  After all, we had just emerged from a time when the world sat on its hands while our people were being murdered by the millions.  From the Pashtun point of view, nobody can love a Pashtun child the way a Pashtun mother can.

So, that is our challenge:  Regardless of anything the Americans, Chinese, Pakistanis, or anyone else does, how do we claim our rightful independence?  It’s all about figuring out those strengths and weaknesses, having a good plan with the ability to adapt as circumstances demand, and maintaining the will to carry it out despite dangers and setbacks.

My other area of expertise has to do with my own country:  the United States of American, which I believe is the greatest force for international good in the world.  Our problem is that we have been providing Pakistan with things of value in aid and arms sales.  There are ways to attack that, and I know both the critical issues that will kick off change and the people in Congress and the Senate who will drive it.  I can do that, working with my Pashtun allies, but it must be part of that overall plan to which all of us must remain committed.  I am willing to do everything in my power, however, for that to happen, I need Pashtun to come to me and let me know what they want, what goals I must have.  I am confident that with people like Dr. Alam and the Pashtun with whom I already am working, we will succeed in breaking the occupation of Pashtunistan.

Thank you.

Dr. Richard Benkin, USA.


  1. Prof.(Dr) Khurshid Alam

    Dear Dr. Richard L.Benkin; In the dark of Ignorance
    The difference between animal and human is knowledge and wisdom. A human should use tongue or pen and animals have horns to use. Unless the broad principle remains the same for nations and countries in the frame of humanity it is a healthy sign to disagree and promote the process of learning should continue. It is the breach of dialogue that has led to ignorance.Israel has proved her identity four times I believe that a Nationalist Democratic Palestinian is a threat to Arab autocratic regimes, as I was told by American Jew Author in Dublin. I have always supported the recognition and dialogue with Israel. About Kashmir my honest feelings are that it belongs to Kashmiris and both India and Pakistan are occupiers.
    You cannot imagine the pains of Pashtun unless you are Pashtun living in Pakistan studying or earning your bread and butter in Karachi or Punjab. According to Pakistani press. 45 % of our population is out of their soil for just earn for existence, living behind millions of political orphans, widows old parents. Our HydroPower and manpower both to chase the industries. Is it not the reversal of industrialisation. Our heroes are their dacoits. The right to get the education in the mother tongue is not allowed. Are we not deprived to fight our case in the court of law in our mother tongue or to tell a doctor about our pains? Our education,history, and history have been rewritten so many times that its original face is beyond recognition? Our political leaders for freedom and philosophy of non-violence is banned to be shown on T.V. We have literally no voice. The literacy rate is not more than 12 %. So the printing media is not that important as electronic media. All our schools were closed and the political centre was erased to the ground and confiscated in the name of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Hundreds were killed in cold blood till the police ran out of ammunition. Thousands were put behind the bars and for initial 18 years, our political party was banned.
    Our tragedy is that the nation is uneducated. A philosopher said that “I freed thousands of slaves and would have freed millions more if they knew they are slaves.” this is the gift of illiteracy, making our task more difficult to create national awareness and religion is ruthless applied in distorted form.
    I must clarify one point that I am not advocating the recognition of Israel to help us out but as a matter of principle. Half slaves can be made to realise with great difficulty.
    Afghanistan did approach the USA in 1953 for arms supply that under the pressur

  2. Dr khurshid Alam

    I am not sure but my ward nurse told me that she has deleted one of my Email from a westerner. I was really cross but nothing could be done. I presume we had an exchange of views on, If it was from your side I would love to read. I shall be grateful if you could resend it to me.
    Stay well and keep on sharing your valuable views.

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