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Amanpour: Pakistan chief 'has pretty good grip'

Christiane Amanpour  

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan, Afghanistan's neighbor and the only country with diplomatic relations with the Taliban, has been under pressure since the September 11 attacks on the United States. CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Islamabad and described how the country is responding on the second day of U.S.-led military action against Afghanistan.

CNN: Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf [recently] reorganized top military leaders. What likely effect will that have?

AMANPOUR: He did this actually just before the first wave of strikes were under way [Sunday], and analysts say that basically he is removing certain members of the military who were closely associated with Pakistan's Afghan policy. Now that Pakistan has decided to stand with the United States and the international coalition those were moves that he made. Others [simply involved] promoting people who absolutely had to be promoted, given the military doctrine that you either get moved up or moved out.

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So that was what was going on. He is cautioning people not to read to much into it. President Musharraf had a press conference [Monday] in which he said the ideal scenario for Afghanistan would be a short, sharp, well-targeted military campaign in Afghanistan, followed by a political and national reconciliation government there. Plus rehabilitation efforts by the West for Afghanistan, pointing out that with rehabilitation a little bit could go a long, long way in that country."

CNN: What does he mean by rehabilitation?

AMANPOUR: He really means an effort to reconstruct the country, in terms of rebuilding infrastructure, bridges and roads, to try to make the water management system work, to make it possible for Afghani's to go back to agriculture. Not just to stabilize Afghanistan, but to help some 3.5 million Afghan refugees -- who have come in, over the past 20 years, into Pakistan and are a destabilizing influence here -- to allow them to go back to some kind of real-life living situation back in Afghanistan.

[The government is] mindful of the protests that have been going on here in Pakistan. There was one in Quetta to the west of here that was quite violent and ugly, but for the rest of Pakistan it's been very, very quiet, considering what the religious leaders had tried to bring out on the street.

The president of Pakistan has put two of the religious leaders, who have been calling for these demonstrations, some of the more hard-line extreme religious leaders, under arrest. So, he hopes to control that and still claim that the vast majority of the country does support him in this dance."

CNN: President Musharraf has not imposed martial law. What is your judgment about the stability of his government and civil order?

AMANPOUR: Being that he is a military leader here, he took over in a bloodless military coup a couple of years ago, he does have a pretty good grip, according to analysts on the situation and the security situation. So, people are not so concerned at the moment about that.

Interestingly, in terms of demonstrations, there haven't been that many, if at all, around the rest of the Islamic world. And I spoke to the prime minister of Lebanon earlier [Monday], who said that while the leaders of the Arab states that are allies of the United States are watching this action, are supporting the United States in its combating of terrorism ..., they are very concerned that eventually the United States, sooner rather than later, will get heavily involved in bringing the Palestinian-Israeli situation to a peaceful resolution by their being able to remove one of the key things that does inflame public opinion here, and that is pictures of Palestinian suffering that are broadcast all the time on screens around this part of the world.

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