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LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN With Christiane Amanpour

Aired November 22, 2001 - 20:00   ET



An agreement for a Taliban surrender in the north. But on the front lines, a much different picture. And the future for the people of Afghanistan.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: 14-year- old Shugupay (ph) can't remember the last time she was in school. "Was it seven years or five years ago?" she asks. She says she wants to be a doctor.

Good morning from Kabul. In half an hour, dawn will break here and a new day will begin. But it will be a new day of suspense over the possible surrender of Taliban's last stand in the north, the town of Konduz.

For the last two days, there have been talks between the Northern Alliance fighters, between Taliban representatives, and the warlord that has captured quite a lot of the north, General Abdul Rashid Dostum.

Journalists were told that the Taliban plans to hand over the city, but it does plan to work out modalities for how the Afghan members of the Taliban will disperse and how the Arab mercenaries who are fighting with them could be dealt with.

It appears that the deal entails those Arab mercenaries being tried for war crimes in Afghanistan. And perhaps that is one reason why the battle still rages on the Konduz front. CNN's Satinder Bindra was there.

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Christiane. Yes, the battle continues to rage on the Konduz front. I was there, earlier today, and I noticed a very intense Northern Alliance attack.

I noticed Katyusha rockets. I saw 122-millimeter artillery shells being fired from Northern Alliance positions towards front line Taliban position.

Alongside this we noticed thousands of Northern Alliance soldiers streaming in on the backs of pickups. We also noticed tanks barreling their way up to the front.

At one point I counted at least 12 tanks hurtling along the narrow dirt roads to the front and Taliban here, Christiane, were firing back. They were firing back with small arms fire. There was mortar rounds, there was artillery fire. And at least six shells landed very close to where we were at the front.

Now, what's curious is all this fighting was going on while the Northern Alliance and the Taliban had said that they had agreed to stop fighting.

A senior Northern Alliance figure -- you mentioned General Abdul Rashid Dostum -- said earlier today that both the local and hardcore Taliban would surrender Sunday.

Today on the front lines we did witness surrenders. We noticed 300 local Taliban surrendering to the Northern Alliance. It was quite a sight. The Taliban were welcomed as heroes with huge fanfare. It was also quite ironical in one sense to see people the Northern Alliance have been fighting with just hours ago to be given such a red carpet welcome.

So far though, Christiane, no hardcore Taliban -- these are the Taliban fighters from Arabian countries, from Pakistan and from Chechnya, have surrendered. Many here remain skeptical they ever will, so these commanders and these people saying today perhaps that this attack today launched by the Northern Alliance was meant to send a message to the hardcore Taliban that if they do not surrender and do not keep up to their promises then perhaps they face very intense attack. Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Satinder, the Taliban appear to be trying to negotiate safe passage for those Arab mercenaries out of Afghanistan. Clearly the Northern Alliance is saying that they don't want that, that they want to deal with those people and try them for potential crimes. Is that what Northern Alliance officials or soldiers, commanders, up in the Konduz area in Taloqan are telling you?

BINDRA: That is right. They are telling us that. They do not want to give safe passage to these hardcore fighters, to the al Qaeda fighters, they say extraditing them would pose problems. Perhaps the same fighters would pick up weaponry and arms later on. Perhaps in a matter of weeks perhaps in a matter of months, they would regroup to launch some kind of guerrilla operations against them.

So what they want to do is to set up special courts. They say they want to try these people as, quote, "war criminals." Now, it is still unclear what will happen. So all this remains in doubt. There is a big question mark hanging over all these questions -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Satinder, what if they don't surrender? Does the Northern Alliance have the firepower, the manpower, to make an offensive and actually capture Konduz?

BINDRA: Yes. There are 30,000 Northern Alliance troops here.

Certainly if you look at the numbers, a lot of them -- but many of these are troops belong to the local armies. They are volunteers, they are not really well equipped, until about a week ago when I talked to the seniormost general here, General (UNINTELLIGIBLE), he mentioned that they were short of ammunition, they were short of weapons.

So perhaps what they could do is launch small attacks. They could -- they could test Taliban lines in certain sectors. But they did not, he said, have the wherewithal to launch a massive ground offensive -- Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Presumably, if it comes to that, though, there would be U.S. air support in -- in the form of airstrikes on those positions. Are -- are they expecting that? Have there been any airstrikes over the last two days of these talks?

BINDRA: Christiane, U.S. airstrikes have been very critical in this entire campaign. In several cities, in Mazar, in -- in Bamian. Now the Northern Alliance certainly continue to have expectations that the United States will help them.

But there is one problem. This is the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the airstrikes -- according to refugees and according to many Northern Alliance commanders -- have caused civilian -- civilian casualties. So certainly there is a -- a fear there.

For the past two days, Christiane, we have noticed the airstrikes have not had the same intensity that they had perhaps four or five days ago.

Now, one of the reasons for that also could be the bad weather. Two days ago we had cloudy skies, but yesterday and again today the skies clear. But the intensity of the strikes was just not there. Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Satinder, thank you very much. And perhaps that intensity was because those talks were going on. We will wait and see whether the United States decides that it needs to resolve the Konduz situation.

In the meantime, just as we thought that the Taliban had melted away from Kabul, there was another pocket of resistance that was noted about an hour west of this city yesterday.

The Northern Alliance went down to a place called Mehdan Shah (ph) -- as I say, west of this city -- to confront some remnants of the Taliban backed again by those Arab mercenaries. They tried to get them off a ridge where they were holding the higher ground. It failed. We are told the Northern Alliance will try again today.

So another significant pocket of Taliban resistance is down in the south. Their capital, their heartland, of Kandahar.

The press -- invited press -- came to a place just inside Afghanistan, on the Pakistan border over the last two days to hear what the Taliban was saying about their battleground defeats and about what they claim is still their high morale.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With their backs apparently against the wall, the Taliban are talking an increasingly tough game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will defend our nation, and we will defend our religion until we are alive and...

ROBERTSON: Taliban fighters back safe from the north, their spokesman says, and now ready, willing and able to make a stand in their ethnic homeland. But beyond the rhetoric lies the truth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not possible for any power in the world to take the heart of the society of the Islamic and Mujahedeen society of Afghanistan.

ROBERTSON: Confident communications from the Taliban abounded before the recent rout at the hands of the Northern Alliance. So why should they be believed now? Perhaps because they believe in themselves and their God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are told that almighty Allah will help us to retrieve these forces.

ROBERTSON: Perhaps it's just, whatever the odds, their commanders here say they are willing to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Taliban, as true Muslims, are looking to become martyrs. We want to die for a cause while others want to live.

ROBERTSON: What counted against them in north, particularly in the more westernized urban cities, was the enforcement of their harsh brand of Islam, derived as much from their rural ethnic Pashtun background as from the Koran.

In Kandahar and the neighboring provinces they say they control, the Taliban are among their own ethnic kin. So far, the Pashtun tribes in southeastern corner of Afghanistan have not raised sufficient opposition to dent those claims. However, in time-honored Afghan style, alliances could -- and maybe will -- switch.

Local leaders will choose to do what they think is best for their communities. And here, that generally means backing the winner.


AMANPOUR: That of course was Nic Robertson. And we find him now again in Pakistan in the border town of Quetta. So Nic, the first question is, why are you no longer in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan?

ROBERTSON: Well, Christiane, this is symptomatic of what we have seen on recent press trips organized by the Taliban. They invite the press in for a really short period of time and then expel them.

But what made -- makes this particularly strange is that press spokesman Tayyad Agha just two days ago in his press conference said yes, the press would likely go to their spiritual capital, Kandahar. He seemed when he left the press conference very positive about it. He seemed very positive about the conference that he had given, the fact that they had allowed a group of journalists into the country.

And then 24 hours later, as if turning on a coin, a 180-degree turn. Suddenly the press were told, "No, you must get out of the country now, absolutely. We cannot guarantee safety and your security."

Now, the message from Tayyad Agha as to whether or not the press should stay in the country had gone apparently to the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. He is, we are told, in charge of all these type of decisions. And he has said no, the press must leave.

This has been the Taliban's position, that they won't allow journalists to go to their spiritual capital Kandahar unless they are under absolutely strict control.

But it is very strange because there are many in the Taliban at the moment who tell us they do see a need to have a press reporting from inside their part of Afghanistan. Yet the message from the very top of the leadership is "absolutely not."

That perhaps -- this perhaps is an indication that they just don't want foreign reporters around in their capitol seeing exactly what is going on. But Christiane, very, very difficult to fathom and very erratic behavior, but also it's now almost typical behavior of the Taliban.

AMANPOUR: Well, Nic, as you say, typical, symptomatic. They have done this to -- to you and your colleagues over the last couple of months. How -- I mean, clearly it looks to -- to us, anyway, that they want journalists in to be able to say "Well, here we are. We are still in control. Our morale is high." But they won't let you stay long enough to actually get to the bottom of that and -- and investigate that. Do you feel those constraints on you?

ROBERTSON: Oh, absolutely. When we were on this most recent trip, we were in a compound about a hundred meters by a hundred meters square. We were kept in that compound by the Taliban. We weren't free to leave.

There were almost a hundred journalists in that compound. And the situation was a -- felt physically a very constrained one. Editorially, being bound by where the Taliban wanted to take us and what they were willing to show us, journalistically we felt very constrained as well.

It is very peculiar that there are those in the Taliban that do see exactly where the press fit into the Taliban's idea of telling the world that their morale is high, that they are willing to fight as long as the fight goes on, that they are willing to retake parts of country.

Yet when it comes to actually doing that, when it comes to actually backing up those claims of high morale and et cetera et cetera, they are just not prepared to take that extra step, at least the leadership is not prepared to take that extra step.

Perhaps this is an indication, of those that have come to know the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in recent years through meetings with Pakistani officials and others, that his view of the world is -- at the very best -- a very simplistic, rural view. It is not a sophisticated, westernized view and he -- and he decides things along very narrow Islamic and Afghan national lines. That is what we are told, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: And indeed, it could be because their morale isn't high. I mean -- I mean, there have been so many battleground defeats over the last two weeks.

Do you think they are aware -- I mean, clearly we know some of them have satellite television -- do you think they are aware of what people are saying in the rest of the country once the Taliban have gone?

I mean, the horror stories that are coming out and the relief that so many people feel now that Taliban have been beaten back, if you like, from the north and from Kabul. Do they know that? And -- and when ask you them about that, what do they say?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think perhaps the best indication came from Syed -- Syed Tayyad Agha in that recent press conference. He spent the first five minutes of the press conference spent explaining how the Taliban had been invited from the mid-1990s onwards, by the people of Afghanistan to take control of the country, to give the people security.

They seem to be very blinkered to that view that is emerging in the north since they have been routed from there. That view, of course, that many people in the north didn't want them there. Many people did not like their -- their rule of the country, did not like the impositions that they put upon women, the impositions that they put upon men.

So they seem to be very blinkered against that view, and perhaps that is part of their rationale of believing that they are still popular in the south, perhaps as part of their rationale of convincing themselves, even -- even if they can't convince others -- that they still have a very positive role to play, that they still are very firmly rooted in a -- in a very strong entity within the country.

They just don't appear to see that, publicly anyway. They just don't appear to get the message from people that -- that they weren't wanted and that they were very much imposing their will against the will of people.

That is not something that they say publicly. And we -- privately we don't get that indication either. The -- privately we are told the same things that we hear publicly, that they were popular, that they brought security.

They don't seem to -- to grasp that perhaps beyond that security they weren't able to deliver a good economic future for the country, that they weren't able to deliver progress in the type of life people had come to expect.

AMANPOUR: Nic, thank you very much. And we will obviously keep watching the Taliban situation there. But their unpopularity appears to be gathering steam, not just inside Afghanistan, but with their last remaining diplomatic partner, Pakistan. We will talk about that when we return after a break.


AMANPOUR: So the Taliban are losing significant ground in Afghanistan, and their last bastion of international recognition was in Pakistan. But perhaps reflecting the fact that this Taliban regime no longer represents a government here, Pakistan is taking steps to end its diplomatic recognition. CNN's Tom Mintier reports from Islamabad.


TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moving out is never easy. These Taliban embassy staffers not going home for the day. They are going home for good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where, to Kandahar?


MINTIER: Now that Pakistan has severed diplomatic relations with what's left of the Taliban, they told them to close the embassy and go home.

AZIZ AHMAD KHAN, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER SPOKESMAN: A decision was taken to close the embassy in Islamabad, and this decision has been communicated officially to the Afghans this morning.

MINTIER: The order came less than 24 hours after a U.S. State Department spokesman in Washington indicated the U.S. government wanted it that way.

RICHARD BOUCHER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: At this point we don't really see any particular reason for that so-called embassy to stay open.

MINTIER: A week ago, eight international aid workers -- including two Americans -- were rescued from Afghanistan. That ended the need for diplomatic communications. The response from the newly opened press center of the U.S.-led coalition was limited to a single sentence.

KENTON KEITH, COALITION SPOKESMAN: We are delighted that Pakistan is severing ties with the Taliban.

MINTIER: The Taliban's ambassador in recent weeks appeared have to little to do here. He shuttled across the border for meetings in Kandahar, and held other meetings with tribal leaders inside Pakistan.

He had been silenced weeks earlier by the Pakistani government over his daily press conferences in Islamabad. Pakistan told the ambassador that verbal attacks against the United States from Pakistani soil would no longer be permitted.


MINTIER: The Taliban seem to be cornered in Kandahar. Diplomatically, the last window -- Pakistan -- has now been closed, and the focus shifts to negotiations with other parties in Afghanistan when they meet next week to discuss the country's future in Bonn, Germany.

Tom Mintier, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.

AMANPOUR: So, not just the embassy in Islamabad, but consulates, subconsulates and all sorts of missions have gradually over the last few weeks been closed in Pakistan. The Northern Alliance is now the partner that the West and the rest of the international community is dealing with.

And we go now to Haymarket, Virginia, just outside Washington, to find Haron Amin, the Northern Alliance representative to United States.

Thank you for joining us, Haron. Can you tell us, first, what is the facts of the situation over Konduz. Will there be a surrender? Will the fighting end there? What's going on?

HARON AMIN, UNITED FRONT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE: Christiane, fighting in Konduz may not be the venue that is the -- in the making right now.

What is happening is that the Taliban want to defect the -- there is a large number of the Taliban -- some 20,000, including their draconian guests, these Arabs and militants from across the region including Joman Amangani (ph) from Uzbekistan and thousands of militants from across the region.

That was the major hurdle. The Taliban wanted to defect, but then somehow they said, "Listen, these guys want to come with us also." Now there has been a deal and the deal is that OK, we will take the Taliban, disarm them, and we will send them -- if they are not convicted of any crimes of war or crimes against humanity or genocide -- back to their quarters.

But when it comes to these international terrorists, there is no compromise on -- on these individuals. What we want is we want international cooperation, provision of lawyers and others, to take them into courts and hopefully bring them to justice. So we need international cooperation in this regard.

But certainly, we will have the custody of these individuals -- these international terrorists -- by -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) courts. These are prisoners of war that we have, and we want the international cooperation on this very matter.

AMANPOUR: But when is this going to happen? I mean, there -- there aren't international lawyers or international courts or an international police force in Konduz right now.

Does it depend -- are you saying that their fate -- the fate of the Arabs -- depends on whether -- when there will be a cease-fire? What are we going to see next in Konduz?

AMIN: Well, in Konduz I mentioned that we have already -- the Taliban have already contacted us. I think that they want their lives spared. And we have said OK, if you guys want your lives to be spared there is the condition that you have to come defect, lay down your arms. And if you are not convicted of any crime, you can -- we can let you go back to wherever you came from unless you are not involved in any of the crimes.

But as long -- as long as that happens, it is OK. But the fate of these guests that you have, the Arab militants and so on so forth, they will have to stay with us and as prisoners of war to go into our courts, tribunals, and hopefully with the help of the international community.

But remember, Christiane, the deployment of international forces has not been -- has not occurred around Konduz. And we would have wanted that to be -- to be the case right now. But unfortunately it is not.

But we are in contact with the international community. We have expressed to the international community that this is -- this is in the making and that -- if they -- if they can provide us with any sort of assistance in this very context, we would very much welcome that.

AMANPOUR: OK. Briefly, let me just try to get this straight. The Arab fighters there are not allowing the Taliban -- the Afghan Taliban -- to defect. So they are continuing the fight, as we have seen today.

So what is the solution? Are you going to call U.S. -- ask the U.S. to renew its airstrikes? Are you going to try to make sure these people are defeated or killed? What is going to happen? Is there going to be a laying down of arms on Sunday, as some of your representatives in that area are saying?

AMIN: Here is the latest on the developments in Konduz.

Number one, we have delivered an ultimatum. The ultimatum is for them to defect to our sides. That means that that's an entirety or the -- the total number of those that are in Konduz, and/or if they wish to in meantime, become -- with the coming of the ultimatum or the closure of the ultimatum, if the Taliban -- versus the Arab militants or the other militants from across the region -- wish to fight it out between themselves, that may be the case.

But if the ultimatum comes and they haven't decided and they haven't decided on what are they going to do with their foreign guests, if they are going to give them to us or not, then ultimately the international counterterrorism resolve is we are going fight them and we are going to finish them off. And if that is the venue they are going to choose, ultimately that is their own decision. AMANPOUR: Haron, can I ask you about the talks that are coming up in Germany on Monday? History has shown that there are so many differences between all the different factional leaders that are now got to get together and try to figure out a -- a government for Afghanistan.

Are you close to your different historical rivals now? Do you think that the meeting in Germany will pave the way for at least a beginning towards a political situation?

AMIN: Christiane, the key to all of this has been optimism. Remember, initially critics said this is not going to happen. The international coalition is not there. The Muslims are going to criticize everybody. The Northern Alliance or the United Front is not capable of being able to advance on the Taliban. All these things proved to be wrong.

Now once again, critics are saying, you know what Afghans have always been fractious, they can never come together.

We came together in 1747. For almost over 200 years we remained at relative peace with each other. When outside interference and our internal affairs are -- are cut and would cease to exist, then Afghans can come together.

Germany -- or the gathering in Bonn, beginning with Monday -- is an initial start. Remember that the united front, along with the king's people, along with the Cyprus Process and the Peshawar Convention are going to be able to get together, hopefully lay down -- chalk out some sort of future government -- at least the initial phase of the chalking out some sort of future transitional government of -- for Afghanistan.

The key is Afghanistan has been internationalized. The international resolve is there. The United Nations is there, willing to cooperate in all ways. Pakistani interference has ceased to exist. The reaction to Pakistani interference, which was by other neighbors, that is also ceased to exist.

These are key prerequisites and key recipes in getting Afghans together. And once people are put together in the same room and the same sort of forum, I think that we can come together and this is an initial start. But it is a start and it's a good start.

AMANPOUR: Haron, thank you. And we like that kind of optimism. And so too will the people of Afghanistan. We will hear about their hopes when we return after a break.



AMANPOUR: As the Taliban regime starts to fade, what we're hearing from the Afghans in Kabul and in the rest of the country is that they want security, security, security. They want jobs. They want a proper future. As a new dawn breaks here in Afghanistan, also the people of Afghanistan say they want a new chance. They are relieved that the Taliban and their fighters are beginning to move out of their lives. And they hope against hope that the Northern Alliance and the new factions that control Afghanistan can come together and form a new broad-based alliance for peace.


(voice-over): Kabul's gold market hasn't seen much business since the Taliban left. And in a way, Islamadeen is glad. That's because his previous customers were the Taliban's hated Arab mercenaries, Saudis, Chechens, Algerians, and Sudanese, who he says, lived like kings and rode roughshod over local residents.

"We couldn't say anything to them," complains Islamadeen. Once, they didn't want to pay for three or four rings. And when we took them to the police, they said, "They're our guests and they released them."

We did see one lone Afghan customer here, but the shopkeepers are expecting business to pick up when the people who fled the war come back and life, they hope, gets better. The money changers tell us the local currency, the Afghani, is already reacting to good news. Not everyone has a radio, but word of mouth travels fast. And this week, the Afghani rose against the dollar, because they've heard their political leaders will soon sit down together in Germany to try to form a broad-based government.

"The political situation has completely changed," says Hali Rula. "We used to have a government that was disliked around the world. Now, the people are happy, because we're getting a lot of foreign help. And the world likes our government."

Also thinking about the future government, a group of Kabul's professional women and students. They say they want a broad-based alliance to represent all Afghans. Saria Pardeeka (ph) was president of the Afghan Women's Union.

"If the government is just one tribe or political group," she says, "experience shows they can't bring peace or reconstruct the country. And women must participate too, because otherwise nothing is possible."

Saria reminds us it was the Mujahedeen that started restricting women's dress and work codes back in 1992. Later, the Taliban took away all their rights, including girls' education. 14-year-old Shugufay (ph) can't remember the last time she was in school.

"Was it seven years or five years ago," she asks. She says she wants to be a doctor.

Doctor or farmer, most Afghans say their first priority is peace and security, to work their land without fear of mines or worse. For their children, to have jobs, and a better life than theirs. They've had enough of the warlords and the weapons that have robbed this country of its potential and robbed its people of their rights.


As I said, everybody here seems to be relieved that a new dawn is breaking and a new chance, perhaps, for the future, a peaceful future, one with all human rights and human dignities.

We're joined now by Shah Mohammad, who's been in the book business in Afghanistan for the last 30 years. He's seen regimes come and go. And he's survived to tell the story. Shah Mohammad, thank you for joining us.


AMANPOUR: First of all, through the years that you've been here, let me ask you about what happened to you during the Taliban? As a bookseller, as an intellectual, what kind of restrictions were you under?

MOHAMMAD: Well, as the world knows, very simply the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the books. And this was very impossible and difficult for us to find a book without a picture in it. A picture of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was burned by Taliban.

AMANPOUR: You're saying they burned?

MOHAMMAD: They burned a lot of books and...

AMANPOUR: The ones with living images, human images?

MOHAMMAD: Yes, they closed our shops many times for weeks, for months. And also arrested my employees. I love my country. I asked to keep it open because it was a small window to the world.

AMANPOUR: Your book shop was a small window?

MOHAMMAD: Yes, you know, especially our postcards, our posters we sent all over the world to Afghan communities.


MOHAMMAD: Show the beauties of Afghanistan to them.

AMANPOUR: Now there were a lot of stories, and I've been talking to a lot of merchants and a lot of people in Kabul, who said that for instance, the Taliban would come when it was prayer time. And if you hadn't closed your shop, they would beat you and force you to the mosque. Is that right?

MOHAMMAD: No, it's not right, but I think it was their mission to put a lot of pressure on the people to flee Afghanistan and to leave Afghanistan for themselves, for their activities, for their -- these things, yes.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that you've seen the Mujahedeen before, when they were in power, you've seen all sorts of different governments here. Do you think, do you have hope now for the future? Do you think the Northern Alliance and their partners will be able to come together?

MOHAMMAD: No, it's impossible. It's impossible because mainly Jalalabad, Islamabad, Peshawar, even in Mecca, the holy place of Islam, they failed, simply failed. Now that's also will be failed again.

AMANPOUR: Why do you say that?

MOHAMMAD: Because too many times when they failed their attempts by U.N., by (UNINTELLIGIBLE), all was despaired about the situation and frustration of this unification in fighting Mujahedeen.

AMANPOUR: Do you have any hope that the international community is involved and it may make a difference this time?

MOHAMMAD: Yes, yes, they should do, because they promised pretty strongly, United States and Mr. Tony Blair and the coalition, the European Union, they promised to do this. And especially when we have the politics of B-52 on the ground.

AMANPOUR: Was that good?

MOHAMMAD: Yes, they must do -- it was good.

AMANPOUR: So are you...

MOHAMMAD: As much as they make his attention and slowly movement, the situation become more worse.

AMANPOUR: So are you pleased that the United States took the action it did here, the military action here?

MOHAMMAD: Yes, because it was impossible for Afghans to save their country, their geographical territory of Afghanistan. Everyone came here and made a shelter for themselves for their activities Afghanistan.

AMANPOUR: So what do you think your future will be here? What will the future for Afghanistan be?

MOHAMMAD: The future of Afghanistan, fortunately those people who say we are the majority, we have power, actually they don't have place inside the people of Afghanistan, inside the masses.

AMANPOUR: So you hope that all the faction leaders will be together?

MOHAMMAD: All -- yes, they will unite. And they will save their culture. They will save their country. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Afghanistan (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We are really hopeful about this, yes.

AMANPOUR: All right. Shah Mohammad, thank you very much, indeed.


AMANPOUR: Well, there's a view from the street here in Kabul. Shah Mohammad, who's been here for the last 23 years selling books and having bookstores, being in the business for 30 years, and has seen it all.

When we come back, there is a side show to what's going on here in Afghanistan. The troubles over Kashmir and the potential for what may happen in Iraq. We'll have that after a break.


AMANPOUR: There are other conflicts not far from here. For instance, the one between India and Pakistan over the territory of Kashmir.

CNN's Mike Chinoy reports.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Indian troops heading towards the frontline with Pakistan, escorting the army commander of this remote part of Kashmir. The first time General Arjun Ray drove into this area, just over a year ago, he was greeted by two bomb blasts.

Today, he's greeted as a hero. The transformation, the result of an unusual experiment by India's most unconventional general. His target, the Baltics, a rustic Muslim people who live high in the Himalayas, land under Pakistani control, until India seized it in 1971, and who in the past, had little love for the Indian army.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's Pakistan which you see on top there.

CHINOY: In a rare visit to an area normally off limits to foreigners, General Ray took us to see the result of operation Sabadna (ph), good will in Sanskrit, a program aimed at blocking the spread of Kashmir's Pakistan-backed Islamic insurgency in this area by winning the hearts and minds of a still suspicious population.

ARJUN RAY, GENERAL, INDIAN ARMY: People cross the border. They stripped them of their jeans and their color (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They respond to goodness. If dogs respond to goodness, I see no damn reason why man doesn't respond to goodness.

CHINOY: Today, he's showing us a school the army has built. Within sight, Pakistani guns on the nearby mountains. Few schools in India have such facilities. Studying the Koran is also part of the curriculum, the general seeking to show the army is not anti-Muslim.

"With the coming of General Ray," says Mohammed Ibrahim, the local Islamic cleric, "a lot of our problems have been addressed. That's why attitudes have changed. I like the army. They take care of our religion."

(on camera): Operation Sabadna (ph) has been in effect for barely a year, but already it appears General Ray's tactics are having some success. During that time, there hasn't been a single clash in this area between militants and Indian army forces. The killing may be continuing in the rest of the region, but in this area, at least, the guns are silent.


General Ray served close to the center of combat in Kashmir in the 1990s. He's convinced his experience here can be applied in the rest of the troubled region. With iron fist has been the cornerstone of Indian strategy based on the assumption that Pakistan was stirring up disgruntled local elements.

RAY: It's not a tactical shift. It's strategic imperative. It has to be done. There is no alternative because the proxy war is a political problem. It is militarily unwinnable.

CHINOY: It's far from clear that candy, computers, and kindness will solve Kashmir's intractable problems. And the general acknowledges that his biggest challenge has been changing the military's own thinking.

Still, even though some cynics consider him naive, Arjun Ray soldiers on. Convinced that after 12 years of bloody conflict, it's time for Operation Sabadna (ph) to take off in the rest of Kashmir.

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Kashmir.


AMANPOUR: From Kashmir, we turn to Iraq. You know, that a segment of U.S. officialdom has been calling for the war on terror to turn its attention to Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime. Well, so far, that hasn't happened.

And CNN's Jane Araff reports from Baghdad, that at least for the people there, their attention is on things much more close to home.


JANE ARAFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winter has come late to Baghdad. As the temperature tumbles, most Iraqis barely notice the heated debate over whether Iraq will be the next U.S. target. Iraqis say it doesn't do any good to worry about a strike. They can't leave. And they can't do anything to avert it. So they worry about other things, like the price of groceries during the holy month of Ramadan, when many fast in the daytime and feast at night.

"I can only buy the cheapest things," says Khalida Waheed Qassim. She says she doesn't think about whether Baghdad will be attacked. The man who maybe could do something about this threatened U.S. strike is holding his ground.

The latest Cabinet meeting chaired by President Saddam Hussein again demanded that sanctions be lifted and called for Israel to give up its weapons of mass destruction. After 11 years of sanctions and crisis, the abnormal has become normal here. In the face of a possible attack, the president appears on television discussing architecture, a monument to civilians killed by a U.S. cruise missile during the Gulf War. Officials and even many ordinary people seem to genuinely believe that the United States would attack Iraq without a reason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now the reputation of United States and the world is very bad, especially with what happened in Afghanistan.

ARAFF: What happened in Afghanistan was chilling to Iraqis watching television pictures of bombs falling. They've seen what the TV cameras don't often show, the devastation when they hit. So Iraqis struggle on, creating a semblance of the normal, like this recent fashion show. It could've been staged almost anywhere. But this is Baghdad at its best, putting on a show that at even at the worst of times, life goes on.

Jane Araff, CNN, Baghdad.


AMANPOUR: That is all we have from Kabul for now. This program will be back again at the same time Friday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. And we hope then to talk to Dr. Abdullah, the Northern Alliance foreign minister, about what he really thinks could come out of these talks, these breakthrough talks to solve a political solution for Afghanistan, talks that will start in Germany on Monday, just after the Thanksgiving weekend.

For now, good night. And "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.




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