- PAKISTAN, Islamic republic, S. Asia, established-in 1947 after the partition of India. At the beginning of the 20th century, the largest city, Karachi, had about 2,500 Jews engaged as tradesmen, artisans, and civil servants. Their mother tongue was Marathi, indicating their bene israel origin. In 1893 the Jews of Karachi built the Magen Shalom Synagogue (D.S. Sassoon, Ohel Dawid, 2 (1932), 576), and in 1936 one of the leaders of the Jewish community, Abraham Reuben, became the first Jewish councilor on the city corporation. The Jews lived primarily in Karachi, but there was a small community served by two synagogues in Peshawar in the northwest frontier province. The following Jewish organizations existed at that time: the Young Men's Jewish Association, founded in 1903, whose aim was to encourage sports as well as religious and social activities of the Bene Israel in Karachi; the Karachi Bene Israel Relief Fund, established to support poor Jews in Karachi; the Karachi Jewish syndicate, formed in 1918, to provide homes to poor Jews at reasonable rents. The foundation of an Islamic state immediately prior to the establishment of the State of Israel created a rising feeling of insecurity within the Jewish community; this anxiety was later exacerbated by the disturbances and demonstrations directed against the Jews during the Arab-Israel wars in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. A large number of Jews moved from Pakistan to India, which became for some the stepping stone to a further migration to Israel and the United Kingdom. The small community in Peshawar ceased to exist, and the synagogues were closed. By 1968 the total number of Jews in Pakistan had decreased to 250, almost all of whom were concentrated in Karachi, where there was one synagogue, a welfare organization, and a recreational organization. Out of Muslim solidarity with the Arab states and the Palestinians, Pakistan did not establish any ties with Israel and frequently joined in anti-Israel moves in the United Nations and the boycott initiated by the Arab states. Only in 2005 were some steps towards rapprochement made, vociferously condemned by Islamic groups in the capital, Islamabad. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: World Jewish Congress Institute of Jewish Affairs, Jewish Communities of the World (1971), 72. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: EIS2 8 (1995), 240–4 (incl. bibliography); L. Ziring, Pakistan at the Crosscurrent of History (2003). (Walter Joseph Fischel, Paul Gottlieb, and E. Elias)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.