Building the peace, Pakistani prez, Jewish bizman form rare trust. By HELEN KENNEDY


New York. President Bush is trying to remake the Mideast by going to war. New Yorker Jack Rosen is doing it by going to dinner. Pakistan`s recent remarkable warming toward Israel and Jews is due partly to an unlikely personal relationship between Rosen, the head of the American Jewish Congress, and Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf. "I have started calling him Jack, and I think he is a friend," Musharraf told a TV interviewer last week. "It is my pleasure to receive him in my house," he said. "These are things which were unthinkable in the past." Rosen agreed the friendship is unusual. "Here you have an American Jew with the leader of one of the most strategically important Islamic countries in the world," he said. "There`s a chemistry based on trust that seems to have worked between he and I. It`s becoming a deepening friendship. In a very short period of time, we have begun to make changes that people thought would take years to make," Rosen said. Given the assassination of Egypt`s Anwar Sadat for making peace with Israel and the power of Pakistan`s frequently murderous fundamentalists, Musharraf is demonstrating courage, Rosen said. "The extremists have attempted to take his life on several occasions, so for him it`s a major risk." Rosen, 59, a real estate developer and world-class schmoozer, was born in a postwar displaced-persons camp in Germany and raised in the Bronx. He met Musharraf nine months ago. The Pakistanis had invited a delegation of American Jews to visit Islamabad, part of Musharraf`s courting of Washington by taking on extremist elements in his country. "I met [Rosen] and found him to be a very open and frank person, and I enjoyed our exchange of views," Musharraf said. Since then, developments have come fast and furious. The Israeli and Pakistani foreign ministers met publicly in September for the first time, in Istanbul. A few weeks later, Musharraf and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon shook hands at the UN. Also that month, Musharraf accepted an invitation from Rosen to speak before American Jewish leaders in Manhattan. At first, mindful of the delicacy of a Muslim leader speaking to the group, Rosen offered to make it an interfaith meeting. He said Musharraf replied, "Why can`t I just speak to the Jewish community?" "His country has never reached out to Jews, and he did this in a very public way," said Rosen, a supporter of the Clinton administration who`s also become close to Bush. Rosen said he cleared the invite with Bush, who "saw it as an important opportunity and understood the significance." In the unprecedented speech, Musharraf spoke of opening relations with Israel, criticized Islamic societies that reject modernity, spoke of the shared elements in Islam and Judaism, and acknowledged the "great tragedy" of the Holocaust. "We had over 40 journalists from the Muslim world who reported what he said to hundreds of millions of Muslims," Rosen said. "Within Pakistan, we all anticipated there would be a negative reaction, [but] there really wasn`t much of one." Then came the devastating Oct. 8 earthquake that killed 86,000 people in Pakistan and left an additional 3 million without shelter. On Oct. 9, Rosen urged American Jews to send blankets, medical supplies and money. The next day he received a 10-minute phone call from Musharraf, thanking him and promising to inform his people about where the aid was coming from. "I hope we can build a deepening friendship with the Pakistanis," Rosen said. "Of course, this is just the beginning of a journey, but I didn`t think we`d move forward as rapidly as we have."

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