Pearl in Pakistan (Editorial)
The Wall Street Journal, September 8th, 2005
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has survived at least four al Qaeda assassination attempts. But such attacks have so far seemed to solidify his post-9/11 resolve to side with civilization against terror. He has taken considerable political risks by deploying the Pakistani military against al Qaeda in the lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border. And he’s been taking risks of a different kind with his recent outreach to world Jewry.
Earlier this month Pakistan’s foreign minister met publicly with his Israeli counterpart, a very significant statement given that Pakistan has long been more rejectionist even than most Arab countries. And on September 17, in New York City, Mr. Musharraf plans an unprecedented address to the American Jewish Congress. He no doubt has ulterior political objectives in mind, such as deflecting growing U.S. pressure for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. But these moves, which have resulted in still more calls for his death from Islamists, nonetheless deserve praise.
We’d suggest one further gesture that would send a powerful message both in and outside of Pakistan. Our late colleague Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan almost four years ago doing reporting aimed at building the kind of cross-cultural understanding the Pakistani President now says he wants to foster. Daniel’s father, Judea Pearl, has written Mr. Musharraf suggesting that the President use next week’s address to announce the creation of the Daniel Pearl Center for Muslim-Jewish Dialogue at the University of Karachi. We think it’s a wonderful idea.