Whatever happened to the Jews of Pakistan?

According to this year’s census, there are no Jews in Pakistan – Reuters reports. Yet three years ago, 10 Jewsadmitted to living in that country. Where have they all gone? Or did they ever exist in the first place? (With thanks: Jonathan)

ISLAMABAD, Jan 25 (Reuters) – The Pakistan government census on civil servants raised curiosity on Thursday about one of the Islamic Republic’s smallest and most low-profile religious minorities — the Jews.

The 2003 census, released on a government Web site last week, showed none of the 234,933 government employees declared themselves to be Jews, though 10 had done so in the previous census three years earlier.

“Whatever happened to the 10 Jew civil servants?,” read a headline in The News daily, Pakistan‘s biggest-selling English language newspaper, on Thursday.

But, for many people the real news was that there were still any Jews living in Pakistan, given Pakistan‘s longstanding antipathy towards Israel and Zionism.

Even a former minister for religious minorities was taken aback that there were Jews in the country.”I never thought there were Jews in Pakistan. I have never seen them or met them, even when I was a minister,” remarked Colonel S.K. Tressler, who served in President Pervez Musharraf’s first cabinet in 1999.

“I was also surprised to see the report that there were Jews in the government service, also.”

Officials who conducted the census couldn’t say whether the Jews had retired, converted, migrated, died, or simply chose to mark themselves in an “Other Religions” category.

The census depended on what answers respondents submitted, and Jews might have chosen not to disclose their religion.

“In the latest census, they might not have indicated their religion. If it is not there, it will not reflect in the census,” Saeed-un-Nisa Abbasi, of the Establishment Division, which looks after civil service affairs, told Reuters.

The existence of Jews in Pakistan is seldom acknowledged, although the mostly Muslim country has sizable Hindu and Christian communities, who between them make up about four percent of Pakistan‘s 160 million people.

The number of Jews living in Pakistan today is unknown, but must be very tiny.

There were a couple of thousand Jews living in Karachi and Peshawar before the partition of India and the formation of Pakistan in 1947.Their families mostly migrated from Iraq in the 19th century.

A 55-year-old woman, who converted to Islam from Judaism when she married, remembered attending services at a synagogue in Karachi.

The woman, who asked not to be named, says all of her relatives have migrated to Israel, the United States and Europe, and she hasn’t seen any people from her old faith for years.

“I have been separated from them for a long time,” she said.A commercial plaza now stands where the synagogue used to be, she added.


  • hey maham ,good to know jews are in pakistan.Being muslim ,i wish you good luck and happy life.Sorry for the misdeeds of few intolerant ones.

  • Hey, my Jew name is Abia but my family has given me the name of maham. i was born in karachi in a jew family in 1989 but we moved to multan. My family is not very much practcing jewish family and we know less about our religon but still are jews. we all have one local name and one official muslim name but we dont usually tell anyone that we are jews and we love pakistan but want to die as jews.i know couple of more families like our family and some times we have get together seceretly and almost all of the jews in pakistan whom i know are living with muslim names. my elder brother is serving in pakistan army as an officer and i know an other jewish relative of mine same with a muslim name who is major general in pakistan army. so dont get surprise of the factthat jews are still there in pakistan. if any jew like me is there in pakistan and reads this you may contact me on [email protected]
    NOTE: please dont be offensive. all jews living in pakistan love pakistan

  • Its an interesting article. I personally expected a considerable number of Jews to be living in Pakistan. As for the intolerance towards Jews or any minority for that matter, neither our religion nor does the constitution of our country allows any such intolerance. They're to be given every freedom to exercise their religion. Besides Muslims and Jews have a long history of living together.
    Live and let others live!
    Sajid Khan, Peshawar, Pakistan.

  • I know of at least one Pakistani Jewish lady, in Karachi. It's disgraceful that we have become so intolerant as a nation that people are scared to declare and practice their faith openly and without fear of persecution. This is against everything that our country was founded for, and against the tenets of our relgion, which guarantees the rights of minorities. All through history, while pogroms raged in Europe against the Jewish peoples, Islamic countries provided a snactuary where Jewish people lived and flourished in relative peace and security.


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