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Interview with Imran Khan; Violence Against Women

Aired October 9, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET


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

Tonight from Pakistan, Imran Khan. He's the one-time cricket legend and Pakistani icon, the former global jetsetter now turned populist leader, who says he's creating a populist tsunami. Over the summer, he surprised Pakistan and the world by drawing gigantic crowds to his political rallies.

Pakistani observers say it's the first time in 40 years that a relatively new national party has come onto the scene and shaken things up so dramatically.

Khan is clearly aiming to be the country's next prime minister in one of the most dysfunctional countries in the world, one that, of course, is also a nuclear power. Critics, though, accuse Khan of being naive and, worse, too cozy with the Pakistani military and its notorious security service, too soft on the Pakistani Taliban.

But Khan's most powerful issue, the one that has drawn the crowds to his cause, are America's drone attacks on his country, President Obama's key weapon in the U.S. war against terrorists. I'll ask Imran Khan about all of this in a moment, but first, here's what's coming up later in the program.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): A video campaign to stop violence against women. These victims are actors, but the crisis is real. Activist and playwright Eve Ensler said it's time to take a stand.

And then in a world where idols come and go --


AMANPOUR (voice-over): -- one voice rises above all others and offers hope for the Rainbow Nation.


AMANPOUR: We'll get to that in a bit. But first, to my exclusive guest tonight, Imran Khan, who blames America's deadly drone attacks for rising extremism in Pakistanis' tribal areas.

Recent U.S. studies say constantly hovering drones are terrorizing the population there, and an alarming number of civilians are being killed. Just this week, Imran Khan led an unprecedented march to those tribal areas, along with a contingent of American peace activists.

Even though his massive convoy was turned back before it could actually reach Waziristan, Khan says that his success was in putting the secretive U.S. program firmly on the public agenda. He joined me earlier from Islamabad.


AMANPOUR: Imran Khan, thank you for joining me.


AMANPOUR: Imran, what was the point of the rally to the tribal areas, to Waziristan? You took a huge number of people, a massive convoy, but they didn't get to where you were trying to go.

KHAN: Well, the rally achieved its purpose. Basically it was to raise awareness in Pakistan -- well, there already is awareness in Pakistan. But outside Pakistan, there's drones, the drones are counterproductive. You don't kill your way to peace. There's 10 years of -- 11 years of war in Afghanistan, Asia (ph) and Pakistan, what have we achieved? It's time to give peace a chance.

AMANPOUR: How do you plan to do this, because, look, the drones are there, whether you agree with them or not, basically because the Pakistani military and the state have not been able to tackle these militants.

KHAN: Christiane, everyone is sick of the militants. Everyone in Pakistan -- and I know, of course, in the U.S., they are tired of war. We are sick of militants and this war. Now the issue is how do we resolve it?

How -- what is the solution? Is this more of the same? I mean, if 11 years in Afghanistan of war hasn't brought peace or we are not anywhere near, eight years of Pakistani military actions, all we are doing is 140,000 Pakistani soldiers are stuck in the tribal areas.

Is this -- are we going to have more of the same? I can guarantee you that for 10 years, this can go on. And in the U.S. it might be a loss of money. In Pakistan, we are going under. This country is sinking under this.

AMANPOUR: Imran, obviously in the United States as well, there are increasing questions about the drone strikes. Now, interestingly, the population approves of these drone strikes by a majority. But there are new studies coming out, questioning their efficacy and also questioning how many civilians are being -- are being killed.

At the same time, in Pakistan itself, let me read you this portion of an editorial that was recently written in the Pakistani edition of the "Herald Tribune."

Quote, "Drone attacks began and continue because of the ideology of murder and not the other way around. Pandering to the militants and being an apologist ensures that both suicide fanatics and drone attacks continue, perhaps up to a point of no return."

He's basically criticizing you and saying that you're being an apologist for the Taliban and the militants' excesses, and that you're pandering to them without a solution as to how to actually stop this militance (ph).

KHAN: Christiane, I am the only Pakistani politician who has been throughout the tribal areas. Everywhere, whether there's fighting going on, which is in seven agencies, I'm the only politician who's been there, who knows the people, who's written a book -- a travel book -- who's read the history.

From day one I've been trying to make them understand that this -- there is no military solution. You're not going to win the war by sending your troops in. Drones are not going to win this war. The only way to win this war is win the hearts and minds of the people in tribal areas. I've been saying this for eight years.

Because I'm anti-war, I've been called pro-Taliban. I mean, the senseless argument that because you don't agree with military operations, somehow you are pro-militant, is moronic. These people don't know what they're talking about.

None of these people who are writing know anything about the tribal area. If they had known anything about these tribal areas, they would know that the British were stuck there for 80 years.

They didn't -- they didn't win. For 80 years, they had military operations, right up till 1947, when we got our independence. There were British soldiers dying there.

AMANPOUR: So Imran, describe to me precisely, then, your strategy for winning them over, in other words, hearts and minds, winning them in a way that's not a military way.

KHAN: Well, Christiane, what I -- when we went to this rally, on the last border town of Waziristan, it's called Tank (ph). We were given -- I cannot tell you the reception we were given.

And people in Tank (ph) are basically internally displaced from Waziristan because this -- almost 80 percent of south Waziristan, the people have left because they've been sandwiched between the militants and the army. So they're -- so most of the people have left the area.

So I got this -- we got the reception -- and I wish you had seen those shots. They were -- we were received by the people of Waziristan. They fought -- gave us this huge reception. The first time, someone had come to engage them. And I'm telling you this is the key to peace. Win the people over to your side. So what I would do is, first of all, I would call for a cease-fire. In Pakistan, I would say the army stops all operations (inaudible).

I would ask the U.S. not to do any drone attacks because they're counterproductive. Because what happens is Pakistan army, it seems like a collaborator of the U.S. So the militants target Pakistan army. And there's an unending chain of violence going on. So I would have a cease- fire, I would ask the U.S., don't do drone attacks.

We will tackle terrorism our way. We will guarantee that there is no terrorism from Pakistani side. And then, once there is -- it's not perceived as Pakistan is a hired gun of the U.S., Pakistan army is not a mercenary (ph) army of the U.S., we will make it our war. We will then gradually withdraw army and we will tell the tribal people to go and take over the area.

Believe me, it will -- they will be able to control the tribal area in a matter of months. The war will be over for Pakistan and they will be responsible for not allowing people to go on the other side.

AMANPOUR: Well, Imran --

KHAN: It's the only solution. Christiane, there is no other solution.

AMANPOUR: I hear you. I hear the passion. And of course, we're watching this military solution go on and on without end. So we know that this is a big problem.

But you have been quoted as saying that you would try to negotiate with the Taliban. You would try to do exactly what you're doing. And you said you could do it within 90 days. But the Taliban have said that that's just dream-o-vision (ph), that you don't know what you're talking about.


KHAN: Christiane, look, I know this all (ph). What is the Taliban? I mean, who are the Taliban? There's a Chinese proverb, "Know your enemy." Who are they? Since I -- my party, by the way, is by far the most popular party in Pakistan's tribal area, where the Taliban operate.

So how would I deal with it? I -- first of all, because I know, look, the ideological Taliban -- you know, when you say they want to impose their system of sharia or their way of life, that's -- I can tell you that they're not more than 3 percent to 5 percent of the whole fighters (ph). They're not more than 3 percent to 5 percent.

The majority are either they are people who are reacting to Pakistan army, perceived as a mercenary (ph) army, and causing collateral damage, either they've gone that side or they have always -- this area has always resisted foreigners.

Throughout the history, from mullah (ph) army to the British, to the Russians, they will always resist foreigners.

Eventually, of course, peace lies with the U.S. leaving Afghanistan. But in the meanwhile, I would isolate the real hardcore ideological Taliban from people who are reacting, you know, who are either the Pashtun nationalists -- because the Pashtun solidarity, all who are there because of collateral damage. And then criminals have joined them.

And then the old jihadi organizations made in the '80s to fight the Russians, which were under establishment, who have revolted against that army and also called the Punjabi Taliban, I would try and isolate them.

I would win the people over the tribal areas, because that's -- those are the ones who provide the foot soldiers. And once I win them over, I will win the war. That's the only way. Believe me, there is no other way.

AMANPOUR: Imran, all of this presupposes that you become the next leader, the next prime minister. Clearly, that seems to be what you're aiming for. And you and I have talked a lot about this in the past and how you have not wanted to necessarily enter government because you believe government is corrupt and the system is corrupt.

What is going to change? What is going to make you make whatever deals and strategies to win and, if necessary, make a coalition to be prime minister? Do you think now is the time?

KHAN: Christiane, I -- and I hope you come and cover this election. My party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, will sweep the elections. We -- our membership has crossed 10 million. It's unheard of. Membership, 10 million. The entire young -- the youth force (ph) in Pakistan is with Tehreek-e-Insaf, my party. There are 40 million new voters who are going to vote for the first time ever, total vote bank (ph) is about 85 million.

So 14 million young people, all wanting a change. It's the only party that is out of government. All the major parties are in government. The moment the elections -- the election campaign starts, Tehreek-e-Insaf will sweep Pakistan, my party. It'll sweep Pakistan because people want a change. They have seen all the parties over and over again.

The parties are riddled (ph) with corruption, have failed to provide governance, maximum unemployment, inflation, lawlessness. So people vote for change and change is the party of my party, which is the youngest party. And I think, in the election, we will win the election. We'll sweep the election.

But we do not want to come in a coalition, because coalition means that you will have to compromise and compromise with the status quo. We are anti-status quo party. We cannot bring change by compromising with one of the parties which is part of the status quo in power.

So we will fight alone. If we -- if we get a clear majority, we will form government; otherwise we'll sit in the opposition.

AMANPOUR: You must be watching the U.S. elections. Who would you like to see win? President Obama reelected or Mitt Romney become president?

KHAN: Well, either of them who stops this war. I want an anti-war president. We've prayed -- I've prayed for Obama because I wanted Obama to stop this insanity called war of terror, because terrorism is not -- you don't fight it with bombs and planes.

Terrorism is you winning hearts and minds of people. It was -- I want to -- I have a president in the U.S. who tries to wins in hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

That's how he'll win this insane war with billions and billions and trillions of dollars having spent. What result has this war produced? I mean, over a trillion. I don't know how many trillion dollars spent, a million people killed? What is the result of this war? I don't even know.

I don't even know what victory is. So I want a -- we would want a president in Washington, you know, who's antiwar, who tries to give peace a chance.

AMANPOUR: Imran Khan, thank you very much for joining me.


AMANPOUR: And while Imran Khan envisions a Pakistan without drones and terrorists, Eve Ensler, the activist and author, is fighting for a world made safer for women everywhere, and she'll join us when we return. But before we go to a break, let's just take a last look at Pakistan.

That young, bright face belongs to Malala Yousufzai, a courageous 14- year-old girl who became a national heroine as she fought for the right simply to go to school. Today, a gunman sought her out and shot her. She was airlifted to a hospital, where she's in critical condition.

The Taliban claims responsibility for the attack, and Imran Khan has tweeted already and offered to pay her medical bills. You can find a link to Malala's online diary at We'll be right back.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And now turning to the epidemic of violence against women around the world, Eve Ensler is an activist and author of "The Vagina Monologues," which has become a worldwide sensation. She's working to raise awareness about atrocities against women, like genital mutilation, rape, domestic abuse, trafficking.

This video launched her campaign, called One Billion Rising, which hopes to get a billion people all around the globe to stand up against violence committed against women on V-Day, which will be February 14th next year.

Thank you, Eve, for being with us.


AMANPOUR: I briefly mentioned One Billion Rising. Tell us exactly what you mean and what you hope to achieve.

ENSLER: Well, One Billion Rising is really the outgrowth of 15 years of doing this work in V-Day, which is a global movement to end violence against women and girls. And when we started, we wanted to out of business.

We actually wanted to end violence against women and girls. And turns out we're still here. We've had many victories. We've changed laws; we've broken taboos. We've helped organizations. We've spread the word, but violence is still rampant.

AMANPOUR: So what makes you think that after these 15 years, something new is going to happen?

ENSLER: Well, this is what I believe. We are -- we're at a real turning point moment on the planet. I can feel the energy as I tour the world of both a lot of terrible things happening to women and this rising energy where we all know we're over it, like the time has come.

And what One Billion Rising attempts to do -- there are one out of three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

AMANPOUR: And it's such a shocking statistic, just hearing you say it.

ENSLER: One billion. One billion. I mean, I try to imagine every night what is a billion? What does it look like? So the idea of this campaign is to say, OK. We've had victories. We've had progress. But we haven't ended violence against women. How do we push it the next level? How do we escalate and amplify our efforts?

And that's what this action is about. It's a call to the 1 billion women and all the men who love them to rise, walk out of their jobs, their schools, their offices, get their posses, get their groups and dance. It's a dance action. It's a worldwide dance action. And since we launched it, I have to tell you, I have never seen the kind of response we have gotten.

AMANPOUR: So everybody from CNN, for instance, will go out and dance instead of doing their work. Is that -- I mean, you want people to stop working? For how long?

ENSLER: You know, some people are stopping an hour; some people are stopping a day. Some people have committed to a month and more. We've seen bishops rising in the Philippines. We're seeing hip-hop artists in Berlin. We're seeing ministers. We're seeing movie stars. We're seeing movement builders. We're seeing unions, migrant workers, it's happening everywhere on the globe.

AMANPOUR: But is it like a strike against -- is it like a global strike?

ENSLER: It is. It's -- you know, one of the things I was thinking about -- and I know we met years ago in a conflict zone in Bosnia. I've been thinking lately about how -- and having spent a lot of time in the last years in Congo, I -- and traveling the world, the world is essentially a conflict zone for women.

If it's true that one of three are battered and abused and raped, women are living in a conflict zone. What we don't understand is that it's happening everywhere, that it's not particular to nation or tribe or religion. It's actually patriarchy.

AMANPOUR: Let's look at our table, our magic table, to that very point. Here in our desk, we've got the areas around India, 22 women killed each day in dowry-related murders. That was a statistic from 2007, the latest one.

In Congo, as you mentioned, up to 1.8 million women report being raped in their lifetime.

And around the world, 140 million women have experienced female genital mutilation.

ENSLER: That's right.

AMANPOUR: You have almost had to apologize for some of the extreme language that you've used to try to raise this kind of awareness. Tell me about your provocative language and what kind of effect that's happened.

ENSLER: Well, you know, it's interesting, when you try -- you know, having been in the Congo, where I've seen the worst violence I've ever seen anywhere on the planet, and not only the numbers, but the methods and the evisceration of babies and 80-year-old women and all to gain minerals and access to the basic goods that belong to the Congolese from outsiders.

One of the things -- I've traveled the world for five years, speaking at the White House and Downing Street and Congress and Parliament, and just describing what is going on and speaking the language of rape, I've been told that I'm intense or too extreme, when, in fact, I haven't found the language to express the magnitude or the grotesque acts that are committed on women's bodies.

And I think part of what we have to do as women and men who love women and stand with women -- and there are plenty -- and say it's outrageous that 1 billion women are being attacked --


AMANPOUR: As we look at these pictures, describe some of these pictures. This is -- these are, I believe, from the Congo, some of your project.

ENSLER: Well, this is City of Joy, my beloved, beloved City of Joy. I -- it's one of the greatest things V-Day's ever done, and it was built by the women of Congo. It's run by the women of Congo. It's directed by them.

Ninety women every six months who have suffered the worst atrocities in the war come. They are healed through amazing therapy and dance and deep processing of their trauma, they're educated, they're taught literacy and agriculture and computers. And then they commit to going back to their communities and becoming leaders.

AMANPOUR: Is that what this certificate is?

ENSLER: Yes. It's their graduation certificate. And these girls are all 14 to 25. They have become some of the fiercest leaders in the Congo. We expect in five years will have graduated 1,000 leaders. And their commitment is to go back to their communities and give what they've learned.

AMANPOUR: So it's a grassroots movement that you want to create. And --

ENSLER: It's happening. They're creating it. They are creating it. And I'll tell you something: our first graduating class, 25 girls, came back. One had started a cooperative for 250 displaced women.

Another had started an orphanage for many girls. Another was -- gotten arrested, standing up to the state, protecting. They're all radical revolutionary leaders who are smart, who are clear and who are going to lead the Congo in another direction.

AMANPOUR: We will look forward to V-Day February 14th, and all these flash strikes.

ENSLER: Yes. And I'm -- I hope you'll be dancing with us.

AMANPOUR: We'll be dancing.


AMANPOUR: Thank you very much, Eve Ensler, for coming in.

And as we've said, Eve Ensler has won accolades for her work on the stage. When we return, another dynamic performer and a golden voice at the end of the Rainbow Nation. And as always, you can use #amanpour on Twitter to join a viewer discussion from around the world. We'll be right back.



AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where one voice can silence the ghosts of apartheid.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): The popular TV talent show, "American Idol," which was born in Britain, has been franchised around the globe, including South Africa, where "Idols SA" features aspiring artists and a trio of judges, while the TV audience texts its votes for the winners.

For eight years, a nation that's 80 percent black had never crowned a black champion, in part because "Idols SA" appears on a private satellite channel that many blacks cannot afford. And each of those text messages costs money.

sBut South Africa is changing and even though poverty persists, more blacks can afford things like satellite TV. And so it was that 25-year-old Khaya Mthethwa took the crown with his electrifying version of Nikki Minaj's "Super Bass."


AMANPOUR (voice-over): And with that one lovely voice, the Rainbow Nation lived up to its name.


AMANPOUR: That's it for tonight's program. Meantime, our inbox is always open, Thanks for watching. Goodbye from New York.