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Elections in Egypt; Interview with David Dreier; Hamid Karzai Comes to Aid of Woman Wrongfully Imprisoned; Dominique Strauss-Kahn at Center of Another Controversy; The Death of Gary Speed

Aired November 28, 2011 - 16:00   ET



RADWAN SALEM, AERONAUTICAL ENGINEER: I feel my vote will change Egypt.


ZAIN VERJEE, HOST: Egyptians crowd polling stations to cast their ballots for the first time since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. Tonight on CONNECT THE WORLD, reaction from an international observer on this historic day.

It's 11:00 p.m. in Cairo, 9:00 p.m. here in London.

Hi, I'm Zain Verjee.

Also tonight, Pakistan's prime minister warns the United States no more business as usual. The exclusive CNN interview just ahead.

And why melting glaciers in South America are getting a lick of paint. Find out about the unique way to tackle climate change.

It's a day Egyptians have long waited for. Voters have gone to the polls in what they hope will be their country's first ever free and fair elections. In Cairo and Alexandria's streets, that have raged with violent clashes, were calm. People lined up for hours outside polling stations, excited to cast their vote.

But it hasn't all gone smoothly. There have been reports of problems with voting, ballots and illegal campaigning outside some polling stations.

Many of Egypt's 50 million voters have never voted in an election before. Few saw the point during the 30 year reign of ousted president, Hosni Mubarak.

But as CNN's Ben Wedeman finds out, many voters have a new optimism.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): They lined up early on a bright and crisp Cairo morning -- calm, solemn, yet hopeful that Egypt`s first post-Mubarak election marked a historic turning point.

RADWAN SALEM, AERONAUTICAL ENGINEER: I`m 63 years old and this is my first election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s your first time?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your first time to vote?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how do you feel?

SALEM: Oh, I feel good. I feel my vote will change Egypt for a better future.

AHMED AL-MENAWI, DOCTOR: I'm 47. This is my first time, too. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And how are you feeling?

AL-MENAWI: I'm feeling great because it's for our kids' future, because otherwise everybody will leave this country, if it goes down the drain.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): For decades, Egyptian elections were something of a joke -- rife with fraud, often violent and always chaotic. Not this time.

(on-camera): A year ago when we were covering Egyptian parliamentary elections, we actually had to wait for quite some time to take pictures of anybody casting their ballot. There was that little interest. This time around, it`s the voters who have to wait.

Seventy-year-old Fareema Atiyah (ph) is also voting for the first time in her life.

"before, the votes were never counted," she says. "Now we're coming with love and respect because we want to vote."

Significantly, it was the army, not the hated police, who oversaw the vote. They were firm, but polite.

In Cairo`s working class Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood, members of the Muslim Brotherhood`s Freedom and Justice Party helped people confirm they were at the right voting station. They said it was a public service. But their presence underscores their strong organizational abilities and suggests their months of preparation before the vote may well pay off.

Interior designer Hind Mohamed came out to cast a ballot against them.

HIND MOHAMED, INTERIOR DESIGNER: They're just liars. They don't do what they say they -- they use religion to convince people to vote for them.

WEDEMAN: And even for observers from abroad, it's hard to get their heads around the changes.

DAVID DREIER, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: If you had, one year ago, said to me that Hosni Mubarak would not be in power and the staff would announce that they're turning over authority on July 1 of 2012 and that there would be parliamentary and, I hope, soon to be announced presidential elections, I would have said that you were crazy.

WEDEMAN: The voting options are mind-boggling. Dozens of new parties have burst onto the political scene. Finally given a say in their destiny, voters seem aware of their hard-won power.

"Every Egyptian has become politicized," artist Ibrahim Abdel Mazni (ph) tells me. "We're all faithful to our country. The proof is that we're all standing in one line, talking politely to one another, because we all agree that this is the best way to deal with our problems."

A truly revolutionary idea now becoming reality one vote at a time.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.


VERJEE: Female voters were out in force today, determined to play a big part in the country's future.

For more on this, Jim Clancy joins us now live from Cairo's Tahrir Square -- hi, Jim.

Turnout was high.

Was that expected?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it should have been expected, certainly. I mean as we looked at the numbers, as we looked at the possibility that people had, I think people could predict there were going to be many, many more Egyptians going out to vote today than at any time in the past.

Zane, they had candidates that they could support, that they could vote for.


CLANCY (voice-over): Egypt's women voters streamed to the polls with enthusiasm, determination and a sense of destiny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That one is over there. And we will get (INAUDIBLE).

CLANCY: For some, this vote would open up the world of possibilities not just for them, but for daughters and granddaughters, as well. In Cairo, long lines formed outside polling stations exclusively for women. Some waited from well before dawn despite concerns about where this vote, this Arab awakening, would take them. There were no illusions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will not change in one month or a year or in five years. It will take a long time to -- to change from one system to the other. We've been going with this system for the past 30 years and it's not like a button we push to change everything.

CLANCY (on-camera): What's the sense you get about the women that are gathered here and voting today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an awakening. I'm very happy and I feel that even when I see old ladies hardly walking, it makes me feel that, really, Egypt is reviving.

CLANCY (voice-over): Egypt's women are concerned that if Islamists gain a majority in the people's assembly or lower house, their hopes for a more liberal life will be smothered. Some were voting for the first time in their lives. Others said that while they had cast ballots in the past, this was, for them, as well, their first truly free vote.

(on-camera): Do you feel like you're voting for the first time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I feel this is the first time. Before I don't care for voting. But now I care.

CLANCY: They care. They are invested in the outcome. For some, it seemed casting a ballot this day was more than a civic duty, it was a moral mission.

(on-camera): It is hardly a surprise that the women of Egypt have turned out in force to cast their ballots on this, the first day of elections. In the words of many, they have felt oppressed for decades and what they want to see more than anything else is a clear separation of church and state in a new Egypt.


CLANCY: Tahrir Square still populated. Not as many people tonight. But certainly some of the issues that have been raised there we were reminded of throughout the day, as the women said, that really the spark that ignited all of this, this vote today, a lot of the credit belongs to the people who damned in that square -- Zane, back to you.

VERJEE: CNN's Jim Clancy covering this historic vote from Cairo.

The same, Jim.

Great to see you.

International observers are in Egypt, also, to monitor the elections. U.S. Congressman, David Dreier, has been visiting polling stations in Cairo and he joins us now live.

Thanks so much for being with us.

How organized has the actual voting been?

DREIER: My pleasure, Zain.

Well, it appears to be well organized. I mean we're obviously in the process of observing, so we can't come to any kind of conclusions.

But I will say I'm going to make an attempt to outdo Jim Clancy. It will be tough, but let me say that I met one woman who said this is the first time in 7,000 years that Egyptians have been able to cast ballots that actually counted. And one man said to me, he was 49 years old. He said this was the single most important day in his life because he was able to cast a vote that will determine the future leadership of his comp -- of his country.

But I will say that there was some concern, Zain, over the -- over there fact that ballots arrived late at the polling stations. But this has been a great day for the people of Egypt. And I think that tomorrow is going to be interesting and we're going to be watching very closely.

VERJEE: How widespread were any of the el -- irregularities that were observed?

DREIER: Well, you know, there's no such thing as a perfect election. We don't have perfect elections in the United States and I've led or participated in election observer missions all over the globe. And I -- I will say, having seen many of them, you know, it appears that things have - - have gone well.

As I said, the only real concern that came forward was that -- that it took a while for some of the -- some of the ballots to get to the voting places. But, you know, people are participating in great numbers. I mean one -- I was with Ben Wedeman at one spot and he said that he had, at the last election, wait 15 minutes for a voter to even show up. This time, people were in long lines around blocks waiting to get in.

And so this was obviously unprecedented participation. And I think, you know, I -- I -- I'm -- I'm very encouraged and optimistic.

VERJEE: What about things like there being massive lists of names of candidates that were reportedly confusing to some voters?

There were questions about the literacy, too, of voters, and whether the process would be smooth enough for them on those basic but critical logistics.

DREIER: Well, as you know, there -- there were, you know, symbols that people had for voting, which was an option there. I wasn't aware of the -- of the list problems. You know, again, there's no such thing as a perfect election. You know, I'm leading the International Republican Observer Institute's observer team and -- and again, we've been all over the -- the world looking at this. But I -- I think -- and we're going to have teams out again tomorrow. So we're really only at the halfway point in this first step.

You know, and, also, it's important to note that the real work is going to begin after the elections when the job and the challenge of creating jobs and getting Egypt's economy growing again is going to be confronting the -- the people who are elected to leadership positions in the country.

VERJEE: U.S. congressman, David Dreier, speaking to us from Cairo.

Thanks so much.

Today's round of voting was just the first, with residents of Cairo and Alexandria casting their ballots. Voters from other parts of the country will go to the polls in December and in January. The final results for parliament's lower house should be known by the 13th of January.

Then, voting starts up all over again for the upper house of parliament. And that will go on through until March. Presidential elections are expected after that.

We want to leave you with an interesting side note on this story, because during the uprising a little bit earlier this year, the word Egypt was blocked on Chinese micro blogging sites. But today, that changed. The Chinese term for Egypt is no longer censored on the Chinese version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, users are writing supportive and even envious messages about Egypt's elections.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Still to come on CNN, the Afghan president takes action in the case of a woman who was raped and then jailed for adultery. We'll bring you the latest on that story live from Kabul.

Was Dominique Strauss-Kahn set up by political rivals?

We'll hear what the French president Nicolas Sarkozy's party has to say about those accusations.

Then friends and family say they are stunned after football legend Gary Speed is found dead. Signs point to suicide, but why?

All that and more next.



Here's a look now at some of the other stories connecting our world this hour.

A new United Nations report says orders to use force in the deadly crackdown against Syrian protesters comes from the highest levels of the armed forces and the government. The U.N. estimates more than 3,500 people have been killed in the violence that has rocked Syria since March. On Monday, the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria released its report accusing the government of committing crimes against humanity.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, violence mars elections where President Joseph Kabila is heavily favored to win another five year term. At least seven people have been killed in the country's second city, Lubumbashi, and police and armed vehicles blocked the way when opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi tried to vote in the capital, Kinshasa.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is taking action in the case of a woman who was raped and then jailed for adultery. The plight of 21 -year-old z prompted a petition calling for her release so she could avoid her only other option for freedom, which is marrying her attacker to legitimize the child.

For the latest on this story, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us now live from Kabul -- Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Interesting development today. The presidential palace making their first comments on this particular case. I'm told by a spokesman there to the president, Afghan Hamid Karzai, that he will, on Thursday, hold a meeting of high level judiciary in which they'll discuss this case in particular, among other issues, as well.

Now, he then pointed out they may, after that, choose to make a further statement about z. But clearly this is an intervention on the highest level here in Kabul, Afghanistan by the man who does have the power to potentially pardon her.

The palace received, over the weekend, a petition gathered on the Internet of nearly 5,000 signatures, together with a plea for clemency for her immediate release, which appears to have prompted this meeting.

So certainly she remains in jail tonight, too, with her baby daughter, but with, for the first time, some kind of hope of a potential release in the future -- Zain.

VERJEE: Nick Paton Walsh reporting from Kabul.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is at the center of another controversy. A new article claims that the former head of the IMF was set up by rivals in France's ruling party.

CNN's Jim Bittermann has the reaction from Paris.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No one here in France has been able to back up or verify the so-called revelations made by writer Edward Epstein in his article in New York over the weekend. In fact, on some of the specifics, the Accor Group, the owner of the Sofitel Hotel, where the incidents took place in New York, has specifically denied the particulars that were reported in Epstein's article.

On the right here, politicians are saying that any such suggestions of a compli -- of a plot are nothing but fantasies. And from Dominique Strauss-Kahn himself, there's been not a word. His lawyers have remained silent on the issue, as has his spokeswoman.

One of his close collaborators said, however, that he doubted personally that there was any kind of plot involved against DSK.

The only thing that Strauss-Khan has ever said about that kind of a thing came in a television interview back in September. He was asked about the possibility of a plot. He said a setup, perhaps, a plot, we'll see. But at the moment, the only person that has been able to see the possibilities and the details of a plot is the writer in New York.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


VERJEE: In the United States, a long time assistant basketball coach of Syracuse University has been fired amidst child sex abuse allegations. Bernie Fine is accused of abusing two boys years ago. Hours before he was fired, the American sports network, ESPN, released what was supposed to be a secretly recorded conversation from back in 2002 between Fine's wife and one of his accusers.



LAURIE FINE: I know everything that went on, you know. I know everything that went on with him. Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues. And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trust.


FINE: Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he somehow, through his own mental telepathy, has erased them but out of his mind.

You know what, go to a place where there's gay boys, find yourself a gay boy, you know, get your rocks off, have it be over with.

DAVIS: Yes, but...

FINE: You know, he just needs that male companionship that I can't give him. Nor is he interested in me, and vice versa.

Because I care about you and I didn't want to see you being treated that way. And it's hard for -- if it was another girl, like I told you, it would be easy for me to step in because you know what you're up against. You're -- you're -- when it's someone, it's another guy, you can't compete with that.


VERJEE: Her nephew says Laurie Fine will make a statement about the allegations tomorrow. She's expected to acknowledge that the voice is hers, but that the message itself has been edited to appear more inflammatory. Bernie Fine was placed on administrative leave earlier this month, after Davis and his stepbrother accused the coach of abuse.

Earlier this month, Fine called the accusations "patently false in every aspect" and said he was confident an investigation would clear him.

When we come back, the sudden loss of a football legend -- all over the world, fans are mourning Gary Speed, but the circumstances of his death are murky. We have some special tributes, next.


VERJEE: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

Welcome back.

I'm Zain Verjee.

Football fans in the U.K. and around the world are mourning the loss of Gary Speed. The Wales manager was found hanged at his home over the weekend.

But as Christina MacFarlane reports, the circumstances of his death are not clear.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Welsh FA have paid tribute to a man they call a gentleman and a true professional but were unable to confirm reports that Gary Speed took his own life in the early hours of Sunday morning at the age of just 42.


We brought the person along that we thought would do the job to the best of his abilities and Gary was that person. You know, those players that went out onto that field to play, they played because Gary was there. They played for Gary.

MACFARLANE: His sudden death sent shockwaves throughout the footballing world.

BOBBY GOULD, FORMER WALES MANAGER: He was my captain Wales. He -- he'd do anything for you. He turned Welsh football around. He'd had a wonderful career. He'd got a lovely wife and two sons and -- and I just keep -- I just keep shivering and shivering and shivering and particularly what -- what has gone on?

MACFARLANE: As tributes poured in from fans, friends and colleagues, English Premier League games across the nation observed a minute's silence. From Anfield, where close friend and former teammate, Craig Bellamy, chose to withdraw from Liverpool's match day squad to South Wales for Swansea's ties against Aston Villa.

Gary Speed started his career as a trainee for Leeds United and went on to play for four other English Premier League clubs, captaining Everton and Sheffield United in the process, to become one of the most seasoned players in the Premier League.

By the end of his professional career, he'd earned an impressive 85 international caps and was offered the Welsh managerial position at the age of just 41. In a mere 10 games, he steered Wales from 110th to 45th in the world rankings.

BRENDAN ROGERS, SWANSEA MANAGER: You don't need to make anything not but very speed to play the games that he's played, to achieve what he's done, you know, to -- to play up until he was about 38, 39 years of age and then step into management and doing an incredible job for Wales in such a short period of time.

MACFARLANE: For some who'd spoken to the Welsh captain just hours before, a sense of disbelief remains.

GARY MCALLISTER, FORMER PLAYER: My body turned completely to jelly and, you know, and having only spent that afternoon what I'm doing -- doing some work with more focus, I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that somebody I had been with maybe 10 hours, 12 hours earlier, who was upbeat.

MACFARLANE: As speculation continues to circulate, an inquest into his death starts Tuesday.


VERJEE: Fans from around the world are trying to come to terms with the death of Gary Speed. A few of them shared their thoughts about the football legend with us a little bit earlier today.


JONATHAN LATHAM: I went down to St. James Park, which is near (INAUDIBLE) football ground, just around to -- to put a show down for Gary Speed, because he was a -- he was a childhood hero of mine and I was just profoundly affected by his death and wanted to do something to -- to show some respect.

ALI RAYMOND: It's all pretty shocking, really, because it's so unexpected. I remember last Saturday, I saw him on Football Focus and it happened on Saturday a couple of hours later. So it was all sort of a bit -- sort of a bit strange, you know what I mean?

He was loved by so many people and he was such a big character. And it's kind of difficult to comprehend, especially the circumstances in which he was just -- they found him dead.

THOMAS HOLYNSKI: The more headlines you see, you actually start to realize it's, it's real. And it's just there's a sudden sinking feeling. It's just -- it was just total and utter shock. I was -- I was devastated because as a Leeds United fan, he was one of my sort of heroes growing up and when I was first getting into football as a very young boy.

He was also one of the first players that I idolized and I just couldn't believe it.


VERJEE: Still to come here on CONNECT THE WORLD, relations between the U.S. and Pakistan were tense before the firefight that left dozens of Pakistani soldiers dead.

Is this the last straw?

Dire warnings of a global recession. We're going to have reaction from the US president.

And then, a makeover for some melting glaciers that just may help preserve them. Our Going Green special report, coming up.


VERJEE: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. Time now for a check of the world headlines.

Egyptians filed into poling places on their first day of their country's historic parliamentary elections. Many stood in line for hours to cast their ballots. This is the first election of the post-Mubarak era, and balloting will go on in stages for several months.

A new UN report accuses the Syrian government of crimes against humanity. The independent commission of inquiry on Syria says orders to violently repress the ongoing demonstrations have come from the highest levels of the armed forces and the government.

Afghanistan's president has called a high-level judiciary meeting to discuss the case involving this 21-year-old rape victim. Gulnaz, as she's known, faces three years in jail for adultery because she refuses to marry her attacker, a relative.

Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila is expected to win another five-year term in voting marred by bloodshed and accusations of corruption. At least seven people are reported killed in election day violence.

A new low in the deteriorating relations between Pakistan and the West amid more fallout from this weekend's attack that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead and more than a dozen injured. Islamabad says they were killed in an unprovoked attack by NATO helicopters near the Afghan border.

NATO says allied forces were responding to fire from the Pakistani side. There were protests on the streets and Pakistan has shut off vital supply lines and ordered US service members out of a secret air base.

It's the latest in a series of incidents that have driven a wedge between the formerly close allies. Last May, the US raided Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan and killed the al Qaeda leader without warning Pakistani officials beforehand. The US then cut the number of American forces in Pakistan and suspended $800 million in military aid.

And then in September, outgoing US Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen delivered a parting shot, accusing Pakistan of supporting the Haqqani rebel group in Afghanistan.

So, what does Pakistan have to say about all of this? Let's go live to Islamabad where Reza Sayah has the reaction from the prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani. Reza?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Zain, you just very thoroughly outlined a number of low points between Pakistan and the US, but today, Pakistan's prime minister told us that this is the lowest point he's seen in relations during his administration.

He said it's no longer going to be business as usual with Washington, that Pakistan is reassessing its relationship with the US because it's a partnership that's fast losing public support here in Pakistan.


YOUSUF RAZA GILANI, PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN: You cannot win any war without the support of the masses, and we need the people with us. And such sort of incidents, they're making people move away from this situation.

SAYAH: There's a lot of Pakistanis that are fed up, that say enough's enough. Has Pakistan reached a point of no return with its relationship with the US?

GILANI: I'm saying that business as usual will not be done, therefore, we have to have something bigger so that to satisfy my nation, the entire country.

SAYAH: What will satisfy your nation? What do you want?

GILANI: Exactly, I have referred therefore to the leadership of my entire country who are the members of the parliamentary committee on the national security. They will deliberate and give recommendations to me.

SAYAH: Is Pakistan considering cutting ties with the US because of this incident?

GILANI: It's -- we are just thinking on reviewing our relationship.

SAYAH: Is your prediction that this relationship will continue with Washington?

GILANI: That can continue on mutual respect and mutual interest.

SAYAH: Are you getting that respect?

GILANI: At the moment, not.

SAYAH: You're not getting that respect.

GILANI: If I can't protect the sovereignty of my country, how can we say it's a mutual respect and mutual interest?

SAYAH: There's a crucial conference coming up in Germany. Some people are calling this the official start of the Afghan peace process. Is there a chance that you many not go to Germany in protest of this situation.

GILANI: It cannot be ruled out.

SAYAH: So there is a possibility that Pakistan may not send a representative?

GILANI: Yes. That's true.

SAYAH: I'm going to ask you for a prediction. A month from now, where will US-Pakistani relations be?

GILANI: Anything can happen. But our intention is to improve our relations, but we want respect and dignity and honor. And one thing I must convey to you, the life of our soldiers, and the precious life, they're as precious as that of any other country.


SAYAH: Obviously, Prime Minister Gilani is not pleased with this incident, but it's very important to point out that he was also very diplomatic, delivering some very measured and thoughtful statements saying, look, he doesn't want to cut ties with Washington, but things have to change.

What those changes are going to be, it's not clear, Zain. He said he's going to leave that up to the Pakistani parliament.

VERJEE: Reza, what's been the US reaction?

SAYAH: Well, they say they're investigating, USCENTCOM is investigating. They've certainly delivered a lot of regretful and remorseful statements, but they haven't exactly corroborated Pakistan's version of the story. They're still trying to find out if US and NATO forces drew fire first.

But if indeed this was a mistake by US forces, look for them to go into diplomacy overdrive, less criticism of Pakistan, in an effort to win back some goodwill and do some damage control, because this is a partner that they can't let go of easily. They need Pakistan, a lot of experts agree, to hammer out a political solution next door in Afghanistan.

VERJEE: CNN's Reza Sayah reporting. Joining us, now, live at our CNN studios here in London is Wajid Shamsul Hassan, the high commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom. Thanks so much for being with us.


VERJEE: A lot of damage, here, to the US-Pakistan relationship. How can it be fixed?

HASSAN: Well, it can be fixed if the US decides to befriend Pakistan. It can't blow hot and cold at the same time, as what it has been doing since quite a few months.

And this NATO attack has really ignited a big fire in the country. There's a big backlash. People are demonstrating. People are asking, who are we fighting for? What are we in for? Are we fighting the Taliban or the NATO forces, when we are under attack by both and both are killing our people?

VERJEE: The US is saying Pakistan isn't doing a good enough job to get rid of the Haqqani network. Isn't it better that they root the bad guys out? Because they say Pakistan's not doing it.

HASSAN: Well, you must remember that we lost 9,000 soldiers, even generals included, and 35,000 civilians, plus $68 billion dollars of economy US spends in the country.

But Haqqani network I heard myself somebody claimed, Karzai claimed that Kabul is under control. Whatever Haqqani network did in recently attacking American embassy and Indian embassy. Haqqani network was operating in Kabul and we don't have any contact with Haqqani network.

VERJEE: With what happens right now --


VERJEE: Does the US need to apologize for Zardari to be OK and to help him out? Because he's facing so much public anger?

HASSAN: Yes. As a matter of fact, the US has taken away the space that Mr. Zardari had, and it must tender an apology to the people of Pakistan, to the government of Pakistan, because we have suffered so much.

And the people are asking, what are we fighting for and why are we going along with Americans? We have done so much for them and still they are so disgruntled about us. So that is not on, and people are not willing to take it.

VERJEE: Pakistan has shut a vital supply route for NATO into Afghanistan --


VERJEE: Is that a good idea? It's just upping the ante, and it may backfire on Pakistan.

HASSAN: No, I didn't begin. No space has been left for us to act. It is so much a demand from the people --

VERJEE: But you have acted. You've --


HASSAN: We have acted.

VERJEE: -- shut the critical supply routes --

HASSAN: We have, because --

VERJEE: -- throw the Americans out of their air force base.

HASSAN: -- we are under pressure from the public. People want us to retaliate. We have not retaliated enough.

VERJEE: But could that backfire on Pakistan --

HASSAN: I don't think so. They should -- Americans should understand. They should decide whether they are with us or with the Taliban. This is the time for them to realize this.

VERJEE: If Pakistan, by its actions would, for example, get terrible press in the US, if foreign troops in Afghanistan won't get their Christmas packages, there's going to be a lot of resentment for that kind of a situation. And the Republican Party is going to jump on this, and you're handing them attack material for President Obama.

HASSAN: But when President Obama is handing the same material to our opponents in Pakistan, he should understand that. He's destabilizing democracy in Pakistan by these drone attacks and these NATO attacks.

But the fact is, I'm sure my government is so generous, that it will not stop Christmas gifts to the soldiers.

VERJEE: So, you can just suspend the action --


VERJEE: -- until after Christmas, is essentially what you're saying.

HASSAN: We could think about that.

VERJEE: At the end of the day, the US needs Pakistan. Pakistan needs the United States. This is going to be worked out, right? I mean, Pakistan has nuclear weapons. That's always been your leverage. And Pakistan needs the hundreds of billions of dollars the US gives in aid to the country. So, this will be worked out.

HASSAN: This will be worked out. And again, we will have to talk and there has to be a dialogue between us. But Americans must understand our grievances, must realize what sort of difficulties they have put us in domestically. You know, we are the oasis of democracy in the region.

VERJEE: Pakistan is the oasis of democracy in the region?

HASSAN: Yes. They are fighting --


VERJEE: Well --

HASSAN: -- they are fighting for Arab Spring, they are fighting for democracy in the Middle East.

VERJEE: I think a lot of people will disagree with that.

HASSAN: No, again, this argument is already acceptable.

VERJEE: All right.

HASSAN: As a matter of fact, it's part of democracy.

VERJEE: Right.

HASSAN: But today I must tell you, there's no political prisoners in Pakistan. Everybody is doing his politics freely and openly, and there is no constraints on them. And we are -- we believe in democracy, and that's why Mr. Zardari has been following a policy of national reconciliation.

This is -- for the first time in Pakistan history, so many political parties have got together, and they're part of the government, and they're stakeholders in the government.

VERJEE: And there's always the tension between the civilian government and the military, and that's something that we're going to continue to watch playing out. Wajid Shamsul Hassan, the High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom, thank you for your thoughts tonight.

HASSAN: Thank you very much, Zain.

VERJEE: We may never know exactly what happened in that confused pre- dawn firefight on the Afghan border, but two things are clear. Relations between the US and Pakistan are vital to both countries, and that those relations aren't likely to survive many more conflicts like this one in the future.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London. Up next, we have just learned that a key ratings agency has lowered its outlook for the US economy. It comes amid reports that we are on the brink of a global recession. Why, then, are the markets doing so well? Stay with us to find out.


VERJEE: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Zain Verjee in London. A dire warning to European and American policymakers today: act now or tip the world into a devastating downturn.

Indecision in the eurozone and the US has led the OECD to slash its growth forecast for 2012. The think tank says the eurozone crisis remains the key risk to the world economy. It's downgraded Europe's growth from 1.6 percent to just 0.2 percent.

And even that's a best-case scenario, dependent on intervention by the European Central Bank, which the OECD says has the power to stem the crisis.

Despite the grim outlook, it was a sea of green on the markets. On Wall Street, the day has just ended, and take a look at this. The Dow up almost 3 percent. Decent gains in Europe, as well. In Paris, the CAC rose more than 5 percent, and the German DAX closed up more than 4 percent.

Asian markets led the charge Monday. The gains, they weren't that high, but it's going to be interesting to see if the trend continues when they open again in just the next few hours.

And this information just coming into CNN. Fitch just a few minutes ago affirmed the US Treasury security ratings at triple-A. But it's also revised its outlook to negative. The outlook had been stable.

In a statement, Fitch says that there is considerable uncertainty surrounding the economy's potential output. And it also adds that the longer productive capacity to -- capacity remains idle and unemployment high, the greater the likelihood that the loss of output will be worse than anticipated.

This move had been expected following the failure of the US Super Committee to find more than $1 trillion in budget cuts.

Well, this optimism on the world's trading floors also comes at the start of a critical week for the eurozone. France, Italy, Belgium, and Spain all holding bond auctions in what will be a key test of confidence in the region's ability to pull itself out of debt.

Just a short time ago, I asked Richard Quest why the markets are doing so well.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The markets rallied in somewhat of a perverse fashion -- so, the CAC up 5 percent, the DAX up 4.5 percent -- because they believe that the European officials, particularly Merkel, Sarkozy, and Monti in Italy, are moving towards some grand bargain, some super European deal that would allow them to finally, finally get their hands around the neck of this crisis and throttle it.

VERJEE: Well, can the European Central Bank throttle the crisis and stem it, as the focus is really becoming on that?

QUEST: The European Central Bank is probably the only organization that can do this. But it has to be given the power of lender of last resort. And that means not just to banks, but to sovereign governments.

The problem with doing that is, instead of being a monetary policy, it would then turn it into and be basically militarizing the fiscal side of it, which is something the Germans, the Bundesbank, and quite a few other people believe is a terrible, terrible idea.

However, the ECB is the silver bullet, and all that we are waiting for is for the day when they finally realize and fire that gun.

VERJEE: Are we going to see the day where there's a consensus that European leaders are doing all they can to get to the heart of it, or do they just face too many obstacles, individually as well as a group?

QUEST: They've lost pretty much most credibility, when they come out, as they did again today, day after day, that we are committed to doing whatever is necessary.

The problem with that is, the moment they try and do anything, the vested interests, the principled interests, and the political interests make it impossible every which way they turn. There are 17 sovereign nations in the eurozone, 27 in the European Union. It is -- to use a phrase, it's like herding cats.

And that is why, if you come back to why the market rose so sharply today, because perhaps for the first time, Sarkozy, Merkel, and Monti are really saying to everybody else, it doesn't matter. We are going to decide, you will follow.

VERJEE: But are European leaders focusing enough on growth and on competitiveness?

QUEST: Depends on who you talk to. There will be those who say that the austerity drive that's being imposed on the likes of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and now Italy, is disastrous.

And indeed, if you look at the recession numbers in Greece and in Portugal, they have been far worse than they were forecast when the bailouts were first put in place.

So, yes, they are throttling growth, and they are going to have to readdress that balance. There's the chicken, there's the egg. You tell me, which comes first?


VERJEE: Richard Quest, no chicken.

The pressure on European leaders to take urgent action is coming from all angles. Barack Obama added his voice today during an annual summit with officials from the European Union, but the American president also says the US is willing to do its bit to help resolve the crisis.

Briana Keilar's been following all the developments and the talks in Washington. She joins us now.

Hi, Briana. How important is the eurozone to the US?

BRIANA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very important in that, of course, if there are issues and, as economists have projected, possible default of some eurozone countries or perhaps the break-up of the eurozone, that that would have major trickle-down effects for the US.

It seems at this point, though, Zain, that the main way that the US is looking at assisting eurozone countries appears really to be through expertise and advice. And we heard President Obama today really urging Europe to take decisive action. Here's some of what he said.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is of huge importance to our own economy. If Europe is contracting or if Europe is having difficulties, then it's much more difficult for us to create good jobs here at home because we send so many of our products and services to Europe, it is such an important trading partner for us.

And so, we've got a stake in their success, and we will continue to work in a constructive way to try to resolve this issue in the near future.


KEILAR: So, President Obama saying that the US will do its part, but that doesn't seem to extend, of course, to any monetary help. White House press secretary Jay Carney today, Zain, making it very clear that the US taxpayer should not be, in the White House's opinion, on the hook for any assistance, including if the IMF is asked to assist in any bailout.

And the fact is, Zain, you look at the papers here today, the major newspapers, and this is a story that is now on the front pages. But I think for a lot of Americans, it isn't really registering to them.

And the sense from a lot of top advisers to the president is that it's not something that would register with voters unless they actually saw the ramifications, unless they actually felt the economic pain in their pocketbooks if there were to be a crisis as some experts have projected here in the next several days.

VERJEE: CNN's Briana Keilar reporting from the White House. Thanks a lot, Briana.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. When we come back, a makeover for melting glaciers. How a paint job could reverse the effects of climate change in South America.


VERJEE: All this week, CONNECT THE WORLD is Going Green and taking a closer look at the environmental challenges facing our planet. We begin tonight in South America where some glaciers are getting a makeover that could preserve the communities that really depend on them, as Rafael Romo reports.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): High in the Peruvian Andes, where it's so dry and cold that very little vegetation grows, life depends on one animal: the alpaca.

But in recent years, raising alpacas has become a greater challenge. Mountains that used to be covered with ice around the town of Licapa are now barren.

Shepherds like Salomon Parco say no ice means no water, and no water means no grass to feed the animals.

ROMO (on camera): So, how much have glaciers disappeared when you think about when you were a little kid compared to now?

SALOMON PARCO, SHEPHERD (through translator): The difference is that when I was a little boy, the mountaintops were white with snow and ice. But as you can see, they now look black. That's the difference.

ROMO (voice-over): A stranger arrives in Licapa bringing hope. Eduardo Gold is the founder of Peru Glaciers. The organization's goal is to bring the ice back to the mountains.

Gold's idea is very simple. If dark mountains absorb more heat from the sun, white mountains will have the opposite effect. The solution is to make them white.

ROMO (on camera): 70.8 Fahrenheit degrees, that's at the very dark rock right here. Now, let's take a look at what happens when you point it towards the rocks that have been painted.

ROMO (voice-over): An infrared thermometer shows quite a difference in temperature between the white and dark rocks.

ROMO (on camera): So, it's a difference of 30 degrees Fahrenheit, about 10 or 12 Celsius.

ROMO (voice-over): A crew of five go around the mountain, splashing a mixture that turns the rocks white. The mixture is not paint, but a combination of water, sand, and lime.

Two percent of soap is added. It makes the mixture stick to the rocks and waterproof once it dries off.

EDUARDO GOLD, FOUNDER, PERU GLACIERS (through translator): This is an experiment. It may or may not work. Or it may work a little. Doing something about it is better than nothing at all.

ROMO: And it seems to be working. Gold finds ice in a crevice between the rocks, something the locals say wasn't there before.

PARCO (through translator): We had very little water. The difference this year, since we have whitened the mountain, is that there's water. As you can see down there, there's a well with plenty of water, and down the hill, we have even more.

ROMO: Glaciers are not only crucial for this mountain region, they also act as natural dams for all of Peru, from which water flows through streams and rivers in downhill valleys. They also cool down the temperature.

So far, the crew has covered an area of roughly 15,000 square meters, almost the size of three football fields. Still, too small to determine if Gold's idea will work in the long term.

His goal is to cover 3 billion square meters, which would be much more than 500,000 football fields. For that, he would need about $1.5 billion spread over five years.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Licapa, Peru.


VERJEE: Rafael will have much more on that report coming up in a moment on "BackStory." I'm Zain Verjee, thanks so much for watching. Up next, the world headlines after this short break. Stay with CNN.