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Report on Nation-Building Conference in Afghanistan

Aired January 28, 2010 - 15:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: This week, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, two major conferences on two troubled countries, Afghanistan and Haiti.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to our program.

There are new signs of hope in Port-au-Prince that are reverberating around the city, because last night, French rescuers found a teenage girl alive under the rubble. She was clinging to life 15 days after the disaster. It's a new record for survival after an earthquake.

Port-au-Prince is also showing signs of coming back to life in some areas. You're looking at a live picture right now of people who've been camped out in their own tent villages, really, now scavenging bits of tin and trying to hammer them back into some kind of slightly more permanent shelter. They're still waiting for heavy-duty tents to give them real shelter before real rebuilding can start again.

The U.N. is also paying people to clean the streets, and there are markets on various corners.

Foreign ministers, who attended an international conference in Montreal this week, are promising more aid to Haiti. The U.N. today said that aid pledges had already topped $2 billion.

Now some of those ministers are also attending another conference in London which has just wrapped up today. It's on Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai called for a $500 million fund for reintegration and reconciliation with the Taliban.


HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: We must reach out to all of our countrymen, especially our disenchanted brothers who are not part of Al Qaida or other terrorist networks, who accept Afghan's constitution. We ask all our neighbors, particularly Pakistan, to support our peace and reconciliation endeavors.


AMANPOUR: On our program, we have two interviews with two major foreign ministers, later, the French foreign minister. But first, will Pakistan help Afghanistan as President Karzai has just asked? And what about its own conflict with the Taliban?

Joining me now from the London conference in our bureau in London, the Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Welcome back to this program, Mr. Foreign Minister.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, do you think that this pay-for-peace proposal by President Karzai will bring the Taliban back, at least those who are just fighting for money, back into some reconciliation program?

QURESHI: There is a possibility of that. We've always been advocating that you have to distinguish between the reconcilable and the irreconcilable element. I think if they are willing to give up arms and shun violence and come and work within the framework of the Afghan constitution, it's worth a try.

AMANPOUR: And do you think that it will actually happen? I mean, there are some -- some people say that the Taliban is losing some momentum. Others say, well, they're getting emboldened and they have shadow governments in some 33 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. Do you think this will work?

QURESHI: There is a possibility that this will work. They are losing momentum. And if you can draw people out towards a reconciliation process, this will break the momentum further.

AMANPOUR: Now, Mr. Foreign Minister, some even former Pakistani officials have said that this won't work unless there is a global deal, in other words, with the leadership of the Taliban, such as Mullah Omar. Do you believe that? Should Mullah Omar be brought into any kind of strategic deal to end the Taliban fighting?

QURESHI: Well, there always will be an element that will not come and talk and negotiate. But there is an opinion that, by and large, the rank- and-file is also pretty -- let's not forget that they've been in this conflict zone for over three decades. They want a normal life. If you can provide them an alternative, I think many of them would want to engage.

AMANPOUR: Now, you heard President Karzai ask for help from all his neighbors, including, of course, Pakistan. So obviously the question is: Will Pakistan open another front in Northern Waziristan? Because there is the Haqqani network, which is caused a huge amount of problems and fighting in Afghanistan.


QURESHI: Well, Pakistan, as you know, is engaged in cleaning the FATA region, the tribal belt. We have ongoing military operations in many agencies within the tribal belt. Our army is in operation in South Waziristan.

North Waziristan, yes, that's an area that we are looking into, but we have to move according to our own timeframe. We have to look at our resources and then plan our strategy forward. You have to do careful planning. The successful operations that we've had is on account of careful planning.

AMANPOUR: So because there have been several -- several statements about when possibly you might open another front, can I just ask you, will it be this year? Will it be in six months, in 12 months? Will it be next year?

QURESHI: Well, we cannot give you a timeframe, but we are cognizant of our responsibilities and our obligations. And we have -- you will have noticed in the last year-and-a-half -- done some very effective, very successful operations.

And today, as a result of those operations, it is being internationally recognized that many of the sort of -- you know, the big names are escaping and running away from Pakistan. They do not consider Pakistan to be a safe haven anymore, and they are moving out and going into places like Yemen, Somalia, other places.

AMANPOUR: And, of course, also, the U.S. and others are claiming success with much of the top leadership, at least the top wanted Taliban, Al Qaida types in the tribal areas, because of drone attacks. Do you agree that the drone attacks have had a significant effect on decapitating the Pakistan-Afghan Taliban and the Al Qaida leadership there?

QURESHI: Well, the drones certainly have been able to take out some high-value targets, yes. You've got to admit that.

AMANPOUR: And what are you -- what are you asking the United States regarding drones? Do you still want to have your own armed drones?

QURESHI: Yes. Why we're asking for ownership of the drone technology is simply because the issue of sovereignty is being discussed in Pakistan. The Pakistani parliament, the Pakistani media, and the Pakistan people feel that we should be able to determine how to use them, when to use them, and who to use them against.

If we get the ownership, we also get the responsibility. And it will resolve the issue of sovereignty, which is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan.

AMANPOUR: Now, in terms of, again, the push on the Taliban and Al Qaida leadership, obviously, as you outlined what your government and your army is doing, the surge by the United States, which is going to be -- going to be deployed at the moment, is that helping?

QURESHI: Well, it can certainly help. All we are asking for is that the surge and the deployment in Afghanistan should be coordinated with the military leadership of Pakistan so that it does not become counterproductive, so that we do not have a negative fallout on Pakistan.

AMANPOUR: Give me an idea, since Pakistan is obviously so close to the Taliban historically, give me an idea of how Pakistan can use its connections with the Taliban to bring them to the reintegration table, if you like, as was outlined at the conference today?

QURESHI: Well, it's going to be an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process. What we had said was, we are willing to help if the Afghans want us to help. And today, President Karzai, in his keynote address, asked for Pakistani help, asked for Saudi help, and in the meetings that I've had this morning, there were other Muslim foreign ministers, like the foreign minister of Malaysia, the foreign minister of Indonesia, you know, and others who feel that they can help in engaging with -- with the Taliban.

So we are willing to play our role and try and lure them, try and drum some sense into them, and show them an alternative way.

AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Qureshi, thank you so much for joining us.

QURESHI: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And next, the view from the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, on reconciliation, as we've just been talking about, and recovery in Haiti. He'll join us when we return.




HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me end by just asking these four women from Afghanistan to stand up. They are among the women who have been working in Afghanistan for the last years on behalf of expanding opportunities for women and protecting human rights and women's rights.


AMANPOUR: So that was U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the London conference on Afghanistan. And earlier, I talked to the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who's also there, about women's rights in Afghanistan. I began by asking him, though, whether it's a good idea to pay the Taliban to stop fighting.


AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Kouchner, thank you for joining us on this program.


AMANPOUR: Can you tell me about this pay-for-peace fund? What is this fund? And how is it going to work to -- to get the Taliban into some kind of -- of peace process?

KOUCHNER: You know, this is very difficult. This is useful in terms of economy. But the goodwill and the position, the opinion, I mean, the -- the real opinion of the Afghan people is much more necessity than a fund.

Do they want a society where the Taliban will certainly oppress the women and et cetera? Or do they want the sort of society that the so- called modern Islamists are able to present? That's the way. And after...

AMANPOUR: Well, that's...

KOUCHNER: ... of course, we find the money, there is a fund.

AMANPOUR: That is the question, because many Afghan women...

KOUCHNER: That is the question...

AMANPOUR: ... are saying that we are prepared to fight against the Taliban rather than live with them in peace because they are very concerned that they're going to come back and -- and oppress them, as they have in the past. What's going to ensure that they will not?

KOUCHNER: Well, this is always the same -- the same question. We need, in the same time -- and this is a vicious circle (ph) -- to ensure security and an offer, an opening.

So I believe that President Karzai said very firmly, as a man of state, as a representative of a new era in -- in Afghanistan, he offered us to go on the peace process. And it was really necessary, because we are not looking for a military victory at all. We are looking for the choice backing the Taliban -- the Taliban -- backing the Afghan against the Taliban. We are looking for their choice.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, let me ask you this: How do you think you're going to motivate them to come in from the cold? Because, according to U.S. military intelligence, in 33 of 34 Afghan provinces, the Taliban have shadow governments. They seem, in many instances, to be on the offensive.

It's been tried before, this effort to get them to come in and to pay them or -- or somehow have them come in from -- from fighting. But how do you think you're going to motivate them to do that?

KOUCHNER: By convincing them, the Afghan families, that the perspective we are and that President Karzai and the government and the majority, I believe, of the Afghan people are offering them a path from this, let's say, extreme Islamist oppression.

But you are completely right, Christiane.


Part of the -- the people in the provinces, in the region, they are of Taliban and of on the other side in all the families. I know that; this is the reality of Afghanistan. And we must convince -- our victory should come the day when the Afghan people themselves will ask us to stay not as soldiers, but as partners.

AMANPOUR: Do you accept the time line...


AMANPOUR: ... that President Karzai has put out? He says that it will take five to 10 years to train his security forces and then, from now, 10 to 15 years before the Afghans can take over responsibility for their own security forces. Do you accept that -- that international forces will be in Afghanistan at least for the next 10 to 15 years?

KOUCHNER: Let me answer in two -- in two points, Christiane, please.

First, there is also coming from President Obama and coming from President Karzai, another date, 2011, 2011 for a change or for the withdrawing of some soldiers, first.

And, second, we don't have to accept such a long period of battle. We don't want to improve to the level of our -- I mean, the -- the number of our battling soldiers, not at all. We want to change the country and to fight against poverty and to fight in favor of development.

AMANPOUR: Do you -- does France plan to send any more troops to stabilize Afghanistan?

KOUCHNER: No, but we can send -- no, no fighters. No more fighters. We are in charge. Is there a change of strategy? I don't believe so.

So we are still, the French people, in charge of two big valleys and difficult places. We are in charge. And with the number -- about some corrections in the settings of the walls (ph), again, the explosives, OK. But, no, we don't want to send more troops to fight.

AMANPOUR: You have been critical of the coordination or the lack of coordination, the different rules between different European forces in Afghanistan. Some have their own rules of engagement.


AMANPOUR: Some don't fight unless they're -- are you satisfied now that the Europeans, the NATO forces are working...

KOUCHNER: I'm not...

AMANPOUR: ... with one mission, one mandate?

KOUCHNER: No, I'm not satisfied. But the way we are talking to each other in the European Union is much more efficient, and this is better than before. It's getting better a bit.

AMANPOUR: There have been two big conferences this week, the one you are at in London on Afghanistan and the one in Montreal, where all foreign ministers came about Haiti. I want to ask you about the situation in Haiti.


AMANPOUR: There is still a lack of coordination, according to the government here. They're still not able to get as much food and water as quickly as they need and certainly no -- no shelter at all for the -- for the people who are here.

What can be done to speed this up and to have better coordination between the different countries and the -- and the local situation here?

KOUCHNER: I know this is always not enough, but the coordination is getting better, much better. The distribution of food, of water is improving. But this is always the same problem, coordination in between -- I mean, close to a hundred nationalities, much more NGOs, this is, unfortunately, we have no recipe for that.

But we must fight. And we were -- I was in Montreal two days ago to organize the coming conference on -- donors conference in the U.N. building in New York on the 22nd of March, and we talk about coordination.

I think that it's getting better, but I know that, by example, the people are lying on the -- on the earth. We need a thousand, a thousand, 200,000 of tents. I know. So the French boat just the last French boats arriving delivered 1,000. This is not enough, so we have to improve our efforts. I know they are suffering. I know that. Of course.

AMANPOUR: You were quoted as saying that the Haitian airport has turned into a U.S. annex. Is there friction between you and the United States over the assistance here?

KOUCHNER: We are in complete agreement with the United States. I spent, fortunately, 24 hours close to Hillary Clinton, because we were in Montreal to -- in -- in Quebec, in Canada together. And we have been together two days here. And she's visiting France tomorrow.

So there is absolutely no problem. They were closer than we are. They were, of course, more powerful than all the others, so they came.

AMANPOUR: Going forward, your former finance minister, the current head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has called for the Marshall Plan to rebuild Haiti.


AMANPOUR: Do you agree with that?


KOUCHNER: Yes, of course. But they were all in Montreal, in Canada, and they were all offering, particularly the World Bank, Monetary Fund, et cetera, and all the other banks. So that's why we are meeting on the 25th -- the 22nd of March.

But we have to propose in that time with the Haitians, under the Haitian supervision, we have to propose a coordination.

You know, we are still in the emergency period, and this is very difficult. But in the same time, we want to be quick enough to talk about the reconstruction. And it will last, certainly, for 10 years.

AMANPOUR: OK. And one final question. France is considering banning...


AMANPOUR: ... the burqa, banning the veil in France, and yet you say you agree with...


AMANPOUR: ... bringing the Taliban back to some kind of role in Afghanistan. Isn't that just strange?

KOUCHNER: This is not the same country. This is not the same problem. And this is not the same people answering.

I'm very sorry, but for us, in la burqa (ph), I don't know if it will -- will get a law or not, of course, voted by the parliament. But what is absolutely clear for all the political spectrum in France, we cannot support this oppression of women.

AMANPOUR: Then how will you guarantee that the women in Afghanistan are protected from maybe Taliban who come back and want to insist and enforce the burqa on the women who don't want to wear it?

KOUCHNER: The guarantee is that the international community is ready and it has been proved completely to fight on the side of freedom and women and men equality. And that's the offer.

In the place where the French soldiers are fighting, they voted and mainly the women, at the percentage of 47 percent. It's 10 percent more than at the national level. So it was the result of our contact with the people and our offers.

This is better than nothing, much better. This is hope.

AMANPOUR: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you so much for joining us.

KOUCHNER: Madame journaliste, merci beaucoup a vous.


AMANPOUR: And to find out how life has changed in Kabul in recent decades, go to our Web site,, where you can learn about Afghanistan's history, its efforts to build a new future there.

And next, our "P.S." from here in Haiti. We'll have more on how the people are pulling together after this earthquake. We'll be right back.


AMANPOUR: Now our "Post-Script." And we want to take you back again to some live pictures just behind us to see that really the life on the streets is picking up. People are still mourning. And as we said at the very beginning, the incredible fact that a young girl was pulled out after 15 days under the rubble has really given a shot of energy into this place.

But beyond that, there are many people going to different stores which are beginning to open up. The national brewery has opened up again, bakeries, food stalls.

All sorts of things are coming back to life, even though as the problems continue to persist, what to do with the children who are still left without their parents and wandering around without any real organization, although some is starting to be put into place, efforts to register them, to corral them, to protect them, to protect them from traffickers, and all sorts of other traumas, and perhaps even, according to the prime minister, schools might open again on Monday, at least where they haven't been destroyed and where it's possible to do so.


We want to say goodbye, though, today, and we leave you from Port-au- Prince with a little bit of what people are saying about life today on the streets here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the (inaudible) we are by the (inaudible) everybody (inaudible) they are still afraid. They are still shaking. Most of the stores are empty, and the prices are going up on everything. It's just like the black market (inaudible) cup of rice is more expensive. A can of milk is more expensive. Everything (inaudible) bottle of soft drink used to buy $2, now it's about $3 to $4, you know?

Food, they've made (inaudible) the drinks, the alcohol (inaudible) so everything is going sky high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) for $3. I got no money, no life. Haiti is broke, broke, really broke for everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel the Haitian people are strong people, because as things go by, they are learning to accept the situation. Everybody has a near or far relative affected by this disaster. And as we see (inaudible) to the streets (inaudible) survive. They take it day by day.

And I'll send this message to all Haitians over the world. We've always been the smallest, the poorest, the worst, but it's time for us to get ourselves together and try to become the best.