Musharraf to Address Jewish Congress

The Daily Times is reporting that Pakistani President Musharraf will become the first Pakistani leader to address the American Jewish Congress in New York on September 17th.

The online publication said in a special report on Tuesday that its story was based on an announcement by the American Jewish Congress, which said the event “may mark a turning point in the relations between our peoples”.

“I am pleased to announce that President Musharraf of Pakistan has accepted an invitation I extended to him last May in his Islamabad office to address the most pressing global problem – the need for Muslims to embrace modernity with openness and tolerance,” the chairman of the American Jewish Congress-Council for World Jewry, Jack Rosen, said in a memo circulated to top leaders of the Jewish community.

The memo also disclosed that Musharraf had indicated that he had tested the domestic Pakistani waters over the Israel issue, and felt that diplomatic ties could only follow an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Confirming the news, foreign office spokesman Naeem Khan said, “The president has accepted the invitation to speak at the interfaith gathering, which will be attended by Muslim, Jews, Christians and followers of other faiths.”

The historical event and gesture by Mussharef was many years in the making:

This was stated to Daily Times by Daid Twerski, director of the American Jewish Congress’s Centre for World Jewry, which is handling the “breakthrough” September 17 event at a New York hotel. Three to four hundred leading American Jewish leaders are expected to attend. When told that the Pakistan mission to the United Nations had professed ignorance of the event, Twerski replied that several meetings relating to this development had been held between the American Jewish Congress and Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, Munir Akram.

Twerski called the Musharraf address to the American Jewish Congress a “major development” about which he was “very happy”. He said Muslims and Jews should meet half way and there was no need for them to have a confrontational relationship. He said the Congress was impressed by Musharraf’s doctrine of “enlightened moderation”.

He said the Musharraf speech would help break the ice between Muslims and Jews.

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