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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America's New War: Pakistani Lawyer to Help Christians in Afghanistan

Aired September 27, 2001 - 06:06   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Leon, overseas, Pakistan's government is calling for a national show of support which is going on right now in this fight against terrorism. But remember, Pakistan also has diplomatic as well as ethnic ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

CNN's Tom Mintier is keeping an eye on these demonstrations in Islamabad.

Tom, are supporters of the Taliban responding as well?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not really responding. Later in Rawalpindi (ph), near Islamabad, there will be an anti-government demonstration, but there is -- this is solidarity day in Pakistan and at large cities Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Islamabad, a lot of people came out and turned out to show their support for the government. A very large crowd, a very orderly crowd and instead of the chants and the burning flags, you saw people with banners and you even saw American flags on posters being paraded through the streets as people basically showed their support for their president's decision. These are the people he called in his speech a week ago the silent majority. These people had the opportunity to come out and express themselves.

Now this event was basically put together by the government, in part, but a lot of people have been asking those in the government for permission to have this kind of demonstration. It was granted today and they held their demonstration.

Now there is one item of news that hasn't really been talked about much in the last two weeks before the 11th of September and that's eight foreigners who are being held in Afghanistan on charges of preaching Christianity. Their trial was just about to begin when this attack on New York City and Washington took place.

There is some development. A lawyer from Pakistan will tomorrow morning go into Afghanistan to work on their case once again. Now everyone left when it appeared that there was a possibility of military action.

Atif Ali Kahn is a Pakistani lawyer who's representing some of the eight, including two Americans, who are being held. You're going in to Afghanistan to try to seek their release. Have you gotten any indication that that may be receptive? ATIF ALI KHAN, U.S. AID WORKERS LAWYER: Well, the Taliban have been really forthcoming on this and they have assured me all cooperation in meeting the detainees, to get to know the court process. In fact, I'm meeting with the court officials at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. So I'm really hopeful. I mean (INAUDIBLE) cooperating.

MINTIER: As a lawyer, is there a possibility that the Taliban may say, well, we're not, because of what's currently going on, going to go on with this trial? We'd like to see these people leave the country -- simply deport them.

KHAN: I think the trial is going to go on and it's going to be the result of the trial of -- they might be banished in that sense but otherwise, maybe that's not going to happen.

MINTIER: What about their condition where they're being held, are they safe?

KHAN: Yes, they are safe. I have talked to the foreign ministry officials. They've been moved to another detention center for their own safety. Only problem is I don't have any communication links with them so I mean that's going to be fine once I'm in Kabul on Saturday.

MINTIER: How long do you think you'll stay in Kabul?

KHAN: Well, it depends. On Saturday I can meet officials and the detainees and they have a date, like from Sunday I'll stay on. If not, then if they give me a later date, I'll come back and then go there again.

MINTIER: Have they given indications that this trial is going to actually move forward...

KHAN: Yes, they have.

MINTIER: ... in the current climate?

KHAN: They have. And they are like waiting for me to come in and proceed with the trial.

MINTIER: All right, Mr. Kahn, thank you very much.

So Atif Ali Kahn, a lawyer here from Pakistan, will make his way to Kabul on Saturday and take up the case of the eight foreigners who are being held by the Taliban.

Carol, back to you.

LIN: All right, thank you very much. Tom Mintier reporting live from Islamabad.

And a programming note here, the Taliban has invited civil rights leader Jesse Jackson to come to Afghanistan to mediate. So Jesse Jackson is going to be joining CNN LIVE THIS MORNING in the 8:00 a.m. hour -- Leon.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting -- an interesting development there.

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