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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.

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