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US and Pakistan's Dysfunctional Relationship; Former Pakistani Ambassador to the US Says Pakistan Has Misplaced Priorities; Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger Talks About Hudson River Landing and Airline Safety; Imagine a World: Blessed are the Peacekeepers

Aired May 17, 2012 - 15:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Good evening everyone, welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

The Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari, is coming to Chicago this weekend to attend a NATO summit on Afghanistan. His visit comes, though, as relations between Pakistan and the United States could hardly be more poisoned.

My Brief tonight, the US and Pakistan, one of the most critical yet truly dysfunctional relationships in the world. A meeting between the two presidents at the NATO summit, we're told, depends on whether Pakistan finally reopens the all-important NATO supply route into Afghanistan.

Even now, negotiations continue as tens of millions of dollars' worth of goods sit rotting in trucks near the border. Pakistan closed the routes after a US airstrike killed 24 of its soldiers, and the US refused to apologize.

Now, the list of grievances on both sides is long, but the truth is, the US needs Pakistan if it has even a chance of leaving a stable Afghanistan when NATO withdraws by the end of 2014. And of course, it's always important to remember that Pakistan is itself a nuclear-armed nation in one of the most volatile corners of the world.

So, my guest tonight has been in the crosshairs of this marriage of convenience for years. He's Hussain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, and he joins me now. Welcome to the program, Ambassador.


AMANPOUR: Now, I know you're former ambassador, but old habits die hard. So, let me ask you, are you optimistic that what I've described just now is going to be resolved, this relationship at the NATO summit?

HAQQANI: I think that we will move forward. It will -- it is always good for heads of state to meet. President Zardari will certainly hand -- extend a hand of cooperation and friendship. I'm sure President Obama will listen to what President Zardari has to say.

But we must understand that there are two parallel narratives here. Pakistanis think that the United States is an untrustworthy ally, the Americans think that Pakistanis do not always fulfill their end of the bargain --


HAQQANI: -- especially when it comes to terrorism.


HAQQANI: So, those two issues need to be attended to in depth, and I don't think that'll happen only in one summit.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's just take one issue. You said Pakistan sees America as untrustworthy. Well, as you know, the United States sees Pakistan as untrustworthy, as well.

Last time Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, was there, she basically said that we believe that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the now leader of al Qaeda, is hiding somewhere in Pakistan. And yet, there's no hint that the authorities are even trying to go after him. Are they?

HAQQANI: When Ms. Clinton was in Pakistan some time ago, she said she couldn't believe that nobody in Pakistan knew where Osama bin Laden was, and then Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan. This time, she made these remarks in India, not in Pakistan. She didn't even go to Pakistan.

Look, I am, as a Pakistani, very concerned about the direction of my own country. I am among those who feel that there are elements in Pakistani society who do not allow us to have an honest and realistic debate about foreign policy. We just want to blame our neighbors, our enemies. We don't want to take account of what is wrong at home.

But that said, Pakistan does have genuine concerns. We are concerned about the future of Afghanistan, we do not want India to create a kind of presence in Afghanistan that the United States would not have tolerated if the Soviets had created in Mexico during the Cold War. All of those issues need to be thrashed out.

We both need to have an honest discussion. Pakistan needs to discuss its relations with the United States honestly and openly within our society instead of allowing a small group of people, ideologically motivated and seeking, essentially, the domination of an Islamist ideology in Pakistan but unable to get votes, they should not be allowed to dominate the discourse in Pakistan.

AMANPOUR: Well, I'm -- you're being very blunt, and I'm not just reading between the lines, I want you to expand, here. You seem to be saying that it is the military and the intelligence that seems to be running Pakistan's affairs, or at least trying to, and that not enough space is being given to the civilian -- the elected government.

And not only that, you've written that you think the government is being hampered by the justice system itself.

HAQQANI: Basically, let me rephrase all of that. It's not just the military, the intelligence service, the judges. It's what I call national discourse. Talk to any Pakistani for five minutes, and by the fifth minute, he will be getting angry about America far more than he would be about whoever hid Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Now, there's been a year that's gone, and we have not yet prosecuted anyone for hiding and protecting Osama bin Laden there, whoever they were.

So my point is, as Pakistanis, we need to take some responsibility. President Zardari brought the matter of Pakistan-US relations to Parliament, because he wanted the elected members of Parliament to debate and thrash out things.

Pakistan demanded an apology for the Salala incident when Pakistanis troops were killed. America disregarded that request. I think that Americans need to pay a little more attention to Pakistani sentiment, but Pakistanis need to pay a little more attention to pragmatic considerations and not just be focused on the sentiment.

AMANPOUR: But what hope, do you think, is there, really, of getting beyond this terrible sort of stagnation that's happening right now? It couldn't be more important a time for your own country and, indeed, for Afghanistan next door and for the US as they're trying to pull out.

They need, as I said, and as everybody says, Pakistan to crack down on the safe havens, on the Haqqani network, on Northern Waziristan, and it's just not happening.

HAQQANI: Absolutely, and Christiane, remember, we need to crack down on these extremists for Pakistan's sake. More Pakistanis have been killed by them than they have killed Americans, so really, America is just an external factor. Americans will leave Afghanistan someday, but we will still be haunted by the remnants.

Look, we helped the Americans fight the Soviets during the 80s, and what was the result? The result was civil war in Afghanistan, the Americans left, we were left with the baby, and we paid the price for the civil war.

Then, 9/11 came, we became partners with America again, and this time, when the Americans leave, we will still be picking up the pieces. So I think, as a Pakistani, as a Pakistani who cares most about Pakistan, I believe we in Pakistan need to adopt a pragmatic approach.

As far as the Americans are concerned, they should focus on trying to do no harm. Understanding how high the anti-American sentiment is in Pakistan, they need to understand how to address Pakistani sentiment, not get bogged down with "We will not apologize, we are not going to listen to you because you have done so much wrong in the past."

It's about moving forward, and I hope our countries can move forward in mutual interest. Look, it's in America's interest that Pakistan be available as an ally and a partner in creating a stable Afghanistan. But it is in Pakistan's interest to have a stable Afghanistan and not to antagonize the United States to a point where America looks upon Pakistan as an adversarial country.

AMANPOUR: You say not to antagonize, but the thing is, it looks like, certainly from the rhetoric that's coming from Capitol Hill, and you know Congress so well from your time in Washington, it looks like there is a lot of antagonism that's already happening.

Let me read you some of these quotes. One of the congressmen there, in fact, a top Democrat, talking about President Obama's latest request for some $2.5 billion to Pakistan.

Basically, Gary Ackerman, who I'm sure you know, said, quote, "Our tax dollars go in, our diplomats go in, sometimes our aid professionals go in, sometimes our hopes go in, our prayers go in, but nothing good ever comes out."

That is the sentiment in the highest levels of power here in the United States right now. How can you get past this? And when you talk to your own leadership when you were ambassador, whether it's the civilian leadership or, indeed, the military high command, and you said we have to get beyond this. What do they say to you?

HAQQANI: Well, look. You know, Christiane, that I did not come to a very good end as ambassador. I ended up being accused of all kinds of things mainly because I was trying to explain to people in Pakistan that the sentiment in America was now turning against our country.

And I kept telling people in America that they need to be a little more understanding of what's going on inside Pakistan. So, the proverbial middle man, I got punched by both sides.

But here is the answer. Pakistanis have to wake up to the fact that whatever advantages they have as the ground line of communication provider, that advantage is not going to last forever. As the Americans withdraw, yes, they need Pakistan to withdraw their heavy equipment, but in a worst- case scenario, the Americans can say, blow off their equipment, let's get out of here through other means.

And that happened from the 26th of November to now, the Americans have survived in Afghanistan without the ground line of communications. So, Pakistan has to understand that piece of the equation.

And the Americans have to understand that Pakistan is a country where there is hostility toward the United States, and those of us who advocate good relations between Pakistan and the United States are not always fully understood there.

So, it's much better to try and create a plan or a strategy that both can work together in tandem. That doesn't happen. Your domestic politics and our domestic politics often come sort of in the form of a clash, and when they clash, nothing good comes out of it.

AMANPOUR: So, here you are being very reasonable. You are talking about your own country needing to face facts, you're talking about the United States needing to understand what's happening in Pakistan.

And for that you said you got pretty much punched by both sides. You're no longer the ambassador. And I've heard also that you've had threats to your life. What is the state of your safety, your security? You can't go back to Pakistan, or at least you're not going back for the moment?

HAQQANI: I will not go back to Pakistan for the moment purely because there are elements there who have been threatening my life. And as you know, there are several people who have articulated a vision of a modern, progressive, pluralist Pakistan have been killed in Pakistan, even with security available. The governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was killed by his own security guard.

So, until such time as the ideologically-motivated, hateful rhetoric against me is continuing, it's better for me to stay out. But that does not mean I will be out of the argument.

I will continue to make the case that Pakistan has to decide: do we want to embrace a future that will make Pakistan a future South Korea, or do we want to embrace a future that will make us like Iran or Somalia? And I think that we should opt for an optimistic future, not a hateful future.

AMANPOUR: Well, agreed, but finally, what is your prognosis? Will that happen?

HAQQANI: Well, I hope that it will happen. As far as prognosis is concerned, you know that one can be very critical about specifics, but nations do turn corners, and Pakistan can turn the corner. There are millions of Pakistanis who want to be part of the modern world. They have a pluralist outlook.

And we have a very young population now. Unfortunately, right now, that young population is being fed xenophobic, ideological ideas. But at the same time, they can all start looking towards a more positive future in which they will have an education, opportunities, and jobs.

AMANPOUR: Husain Haqqani, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.

HAQQANI: Always a pleasure talking to you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Thank you, Husain. And when we return, we're not going to be able to turn the ship of state, but we will take a big turn and meet the world's most famous and admired pilot, who somehow managed to land a plane in New York's Hudson River those years ago.

But first, as we've heard now, the battle between the US and Pakistan over the use of drones reaches even the very youngest. Who knows if this child here can even read the sign that she's carrying, but it is sad to see someone so young and innocent caught up in the propaganda war. We've just been talking about all of that, and we'll be right back.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Welcome back to the program. And I am sure that everyone will remember where they were when this catastrophic midair bird strike that led to an emergency landing happened on the Hudson River.

But the pilot of the US Airways Flight 1549 discussed his lifesaving options with a calm voice and unshakable focus. Take a listen.


CHESLEY "SULLY" SULLENBERGER, LANDED PLANE ON NEW YORK'S HUDSON RIVER: This is Cactus 1539. Hit birds, we lost thrust in both engines, we're turning back towards LaGuardia.

CONTROL: Cactus 1529, if we can get it for you, do you want to try to land runway one-three?

SULLENBERGER: We're unable. We may end up in the Hudson.

CONTROL: Aye, Cactus 1549, it's going to be less traffic to runway three-one.

SULLENBERGER: Unable. What's over to our right? Anything in New Jersey, maybe Teterboro?

CONTROL: OK, off to your right side is Teterboro Airport. You want to try to go to Teterboro?


CONTROL: Cactus 1529, turn right two-eight-zero, you can land runway one at Teterboro.

SULLENBERGER: We can't do it.

CONTROL: OK, which runway would you like at Teterboro?

SULLENBERGER: We're going to be in the Hudson.


AMANPOUR: It's really still chilling to listen to. And Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger instantly became an international hero on that day, January 15th, 2009. As he and his copilot, Jeff Skiles, and three flight attendants saved the lives of all the 150 passengers onboard.

He's an airline safety expert and the author of a new book, "Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America's Leaders." Captain, welcome to our program.

SULLENBERGER: Thank you, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: It gives me chills. Does it give you chills to hear that again?

SULLENBERGER: Oh, each time I've heard it, and over many times, I still begin to feel the same things I felt that day. It takes me right back to that incredible moment.

AMANPOUR: And here we have in our real magic table, we have that picture. Can you tell us what was coming -- who do you recognize, what do you remember from that day?

SULLENBERGER: Well, there's one passenger in particular, Eric Stevenson, who was actually living in Paris at the time and had come back to the States to visit his family, was on the left wing. Of course, I'm still in the aircraft at this point, passing life vests, jackets, and blankets to those outside.

And the last three of us to leave the aircraft in order were our A flight attendant, Donna Dent, then first officer Jeff Skiles, and then me. And by the time I left the airplane, there were ferries all around us, the rescue was full underway.

AMANPOUR: Did you think that you would get out?

SULLENBERGER: Yes. I was confident once we hit the bird that I could find a way to solve the problem. But it was apparent to me that this was going to be instantly the challenge of a lifetime.

AMANPOUR: And was there a process? Did the -- do you recall the brain mechanically turning, or was it just instantaneous?

SULLENBERGER: It required great effort. It was such a shock after almost 30 years of routine airline flying where we always work very hard to plan and anticipate and have alternatives for every course of action and work hard never to be surprised by anything, this was unlike anything I'd experienced for 42 years.

This was the crisis of a lifetime, and I knew it as it was happening, and my body responded physiologically in a very human way.

AMANPOUR: Which was?

SULLENBERGER: I could feel my blood pressure, my pulse shoot up. I sensed my perceptual field narrow. But I had the experience and the discipline to compartmentalize and focus on the task at hand and try to ignore the stress. But it -- to ignore the stress required great effort.

AMANPOUR: You needed, on the one hand, the adrenaline to kick in, but you couldn't let it overwhelm you.

SULLENBERGER: Absolutely. And so, I had to -- to very quickly solve a problem that we had never specifically trained for. So, I took what I did know. I innovated, and I applied it in a new way to solve this new problem.

AMANPOUR: Did your military background help you?

SULLENBERGER: Absolutely, yes. Especially flying high performance jet fighters in challenging situations gives one the skills, the judgment, and the confidence, quite frankly, to be able to do something like this.

AMANPOUR: And you said -- I mean, as I said, you became instantly a hero around the world, but you didn't come back or you didn't survive it unscarred. You had some post-traumatic stress.

SULLENBERGER: We all did. At first, it was difficult to sleep more than a few hours. In the first several days, I would try to read a newspaper article and end up re-reading the same sentence five times without comprehension and finally giving up on the idea.

But with the passage of time, we recover, our sleep patterns return to normal, and I was able to process this, think about it, put it in perspective, and make it a part of myself.

AMANPOUR: And what has it been like to be thrust into this everybody wanting a piece of you, everybody wanting to talk to you, you being on the circuit, so to speak?

SULLENBERGER: It changed our lives instantly, completely, forever. We just didn't know how much. And it's become gradually more apparent to us in the last three years, these mind-bending three years when we've met the president, received an award from Prince Phillip in Buckingham Palace, received the Legion of Honor from the Republic of France.

I've met the passengers and heard their stories of gratitude. It's been a life-changing event for all of us. And that's part of why it led me to this book.

AMANPOUR: To this book. I was going to say, "Making a Difference," and it's about leadership, and you've chosen several American icons to talk about leadership.

SULLENBERGER: And these concepts are things I've been thinking about and pondering for decades, and things I tried to practice at the airline to become more expert at leading a team of individuals who start each week of flying sometimes not even knowing each other.

We very quickly form a team and have collective bonds, roles and responsibilities, and a shared sense of responsibility for the outcome. And it's this kind of team-building, this kind of leadership by example, this kind of -- this sort of being willing to serve a cause greater than oneself and one's own needs that led to this book.

And of course, the event three years ago gave me the ability to talk to people who have done amazing things and touched people's lives, and I've heard their stories, and I had to put them on the page and share them.

AMANPOUR: And we said that you are an airline safety expert. What do you think right now about airline safety?

And let's just take, for instance, the thing that shocked us all in the last couple of weeks, and that's the discovery of a new and more sophisticated attempt to make an underwear bomb by terrorists in Yemen. How frightening is that for people like yourself, people like pilots and airline staff?

SULLENBERGER: It's a concern because it's an ongoing attempt, a constant game of wits, an arms race, essentially, to develop weapons that can hurt us that we might not be able to discover in time. Fortunately, we've been able to thwart the most recent efforts.

It is a concern, but I think it's -- it's still a small chance that that would happen on any particular flight. We're still very safe. We made aviation safer. My concerns, actually --

AMANPOUR: You say it's a small chance, but everybody was so worried because they're saying now that this latest one didn't really have any metal and it could have gone through --


AMANPOUR: -- the magnetometer.

SULLENBERGER: Right. But still, when you look at the risk of flying globally, this is still a relatively small part of it. My concern is actually more pedestrian, more cotillion. It's the everyday attention to detail.

It's the more familiar threats that we need to make sure that we always proactively look for and mediate, and that's fighting fatigue, making sure that our pilots are experienced enough, and creating a robust safety system in which we can operate in and which it can tolerate the occasional failure or the occasional error.

AMANPOUR: You obviously think that we don't really have that system right now, that there are tired pilots, that the system is stretched.

SULLENBERGER: Yes, and that's particularly true in this country in terms of the regional carriers. They just don't have the same level of safety that the large jet major airlines have. Their pilots are, on average, not as experience. They don't have the same safety audit systems in place sometimes.

And so, it's important that we try to achieve what we in this country call one level of safety, across the board, across all the airlines, large and small.

AMANPOUR: But you've also been quite critical about the -- for instance, the TSA, the security at airports. For instance, as a Brit, when I go through Heathrow Airport, now, you don't actually have to take off your shoes unless it looks like they've got some metal.

There are all sorts of things that have been slightly relaxed around the world, but here, still, in every airport, it's like you're a potential walking bomb no matter who you are going through. Henry Kissinger was just patted down these last few days. He's a really well-known figure. Do you have issues with TSA at the moment?

SULLENBERGER: I've been saying for some time that the one-size-fits- all approach isn't the best use of our limited resources, that a much more intelligent approach is literally an intelligence-based approach, a risk- based approach, and that we're much better looking at people's behaviors and not only looking for things.

AMANPOUR: And do we have the best people manning the TSA brigade?

SULLENBERGER: From what I've understood, the current TSA administrator, John Pistole, is off to a good start. And he is beginning to address many of the issues that we talked about. So, I'm optimistic.

AMANPOUR: Do you fly anymore?

SULLENBERGER: I fly all the time. I mean, I --

AMANPOUR: I mean pilot.

SULLENBERGER: -- as a passenger. But I do -- I retired from the airline two years ago, but I didn't really retire. Just traded that one profession for about four others, as a speaker, an author, a consultant for safety, for industry, and as a CBS News aviation safety expert.

But I do fly for fun on short-range business trips and family trips when I can. It's still something I enjoy. It's a life-long passion for me.

AMANPOUR: All right. Captain Sullenberger, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

SULLENBERGER: Thanks for having me on.


AMANPOUR: And finally, in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Syria, we sadly almost get used to seeing the fighting and even the dying. But there are also moments like this one in Damascus. These UN monitors are in a hotel lobby, waiting to be deployed onto the streets where they're needed the most.

Imagine a world where the peacekeepers aren't able to keep the peace. The full compliment of these UN monitors is not yet in place, and those who are there are often prevented from doing their job. Meantime, the cease- fire isn't working, so the peacekeepers can do only what soldiers always do, and that is hurry up and wait.

That's it for tonight's program, thank you for joining us. Good-bye from New York.