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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Aung San Suu Kyi Interview Replay; Imran Khan Interview Replay

Aired December 24, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour. And we wish you a happy holiday season and a Merry Christmas to all of those celebrating it.

This week, we're looking back at some of the top interviews and stories that we've been covering this year. And we'll update you on those that still dominate the headlines now.

Perhaps the most troubled and troubling corner of the world remains Pakistan, a nuclear power where extremist elements have become increasingly radicalized over the past decade.

And later in the program, we'll talk to Imran Khan, the Pakistani politician who's made great political strides this year.

But, first, to Myanmar and the story of a young democracy taking root. Last month, Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit that country, also known as Burma. Whilst there, he met with Burma's Nobel Peace Prize winner and leading democracy advocate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): They met at her lakeside villa, where she spent almost 20 years under house arrest, isolated from the world by the repressive military junta.

Suu Kyi no longer stands outside the fray. She's now a politician, a member of parliament, and the military junta led by President Thein Sein, is working with her for a more democratic future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: I spoke with Aung San Suu Kyi when she returned to New York for a visit, where she lived and worked, some 40 years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Aung San Suu Kyi, thank you for joining me.

AUNG SAN SUU KYI, BURMESE ACTIVIST: It's a pleasure.

AMANPOUR: I see you in these amazing public events now, accepting finally the Congressional Gold Medal, the Nobel Peace Prize. You get a hero's welcome. You look visibly pained when people are standing up in these prolonged standing Os. Is it weird for you?

SUU KYI: No, it's -- I appreciate it very much. But sometimes I feel a little embarrassed.

AMANPOUR: Why embarrassed?

SUU KYI: It doesn't seem right for anybody to get so much attention.

AMANPOUR: And yet what you've done has been so dramatic.

What do you think is your greatest achievement? If you had to sum it up, what would you say has brought you these, Congressional Gold Medal, the Nobel prize?

SUU KYI: I don't think it's yet time to say what my greatest achievement is. I think I have received these prizes for the efforts I've made to reach the goal that all my country men and women would like to reach.

AMANPOUR: There's still some way to go. Obviously, it's a dramatically different situation. A few years ago, there's no way you would have been able to sit here.

Do you call now for the end of sanctions against Burma, Myanmar? Do you think the export sanction, particularly, should be lifted now?

SUU KYI: You mean the import into the United States?

AMANPOUR: Exactly, yes --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: -- export from --

SUU KYI: Yes, that's right.

Well, I think it should be lifted now. It can't really be lifted yet, but there can be a waiver. And I would very much support such a move, because I think I -- it's time we gave our people a chance to show what they can do.

And I've said before that we can't depend on external support forever to achieve our own ends. We'll always appreciate what our friends do, and I hope that they will continue to do whatever is necessary. But we must also take responsibility for our own destiny.

AMANPOUR: What about political prisoners? The president announced an amnesty a short while ago. Are you satisfied that this includes the political prisoners, enough of the kind of people you need to see released?

SUU KYI: No, not all the people on our list have been released, and there are other lists, which are, I think, which are probably a little more -- a little longer than ours. So I think there's still others waiting to be released.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe it will happen?

SUU KYI: I think so. I think it should happen as soon as possible.

AMANPOUR: You're now working with the former general; Thein Sein is now the president of your country. These are the people who prevented you from seeing your husband, who kept your children separated from you, not to mention the oppression in your country itself.

Tell me what it is like to now have to be a politician and work with this group of people.

SUU KYI: I've never thought that what they did to me was personal anyway. It is politics. And if you decide to go into politics, you have to be prepared to put up with this kind of -- with these kind of problems. I like a lot of the generals. I'm rather inclined to liking people.

AMANPOUR: That would sound pretty dramatic for people to hear, that you like the generals.

SUU KYI: Well, I've always got on with people in the army. You mustn't forget that my father was the founder of the Burmese army. And this is why I have a soft spot for them, even though I don't like what they do. That's different from not liking them.

AMANPOUR: I'm stunned.

SUU KYI: Are you really?

AMANPOUR: Yes. I'm stunned.

SUU KYI: I think it's perfectly natural for me to feel this way.

AMANPOUR: Do you believe that your relationship with the president is crucial, not just your personal relationship, but your political relationship, is crucial to enable a full and proper transition from military dictatorship to a full democracy?

SUU KYI: I think it's always a little dangerous to make this kind of work a personal occupation. I think we should look at it more from a -- from an objective point of view. I think it is important that the executives, the legislature and the judiciary that we're trying to develop, work together to strengthen democratic institutions and practices.

AMANPOUR: And yet I know you don't want to take this sort of personal, I suppose, not responsibility, but you don't want to frame it so much in the personal. But the truth of the matter is, it is about you. You are the person that made this happen. It might not have happened without somebody like --

(CROSSTALK)

SUU KYI: Oh, I don't think so. I think without many, many others, it would not have happened, the people of my country and the people of the United States have supported us, the United States' administration. I've got to really say thank you to the U.S. Congress while I'm about it, because they've been so supported over the years and others around the world.

So I don't -- in a sense, I think one must take responsibility for one's actions and one's decisions. But one should never take -- one should never assume that everything that happens for the good is achieved by one's self alone.

AMANPOUR: Do you remember what it was like that time, when you faced the soldiers and their rifles pointed at you, when you walked straight towards them?

SUU KYI: Ah, that was a long time back.

AMANPOUR: Do you remember it?

SUU KYI: Yes. Of course.

AMANPOUR: What went through your mind? People held back, but you didn't. You walked straight towards them.

SUU KYI: Well, I wasn't given much choice because, first of all, they said you must all move to the side of the street. So I said, fine. So I said let's walk on the side of the street. And then he said something like that he would shoot whether or not we were on the side of the street or on the street itself. And I decided I might as well be on the street.

AMANPOUR: And then there was another major attempt on your life in 2003. Many, many people were killed. How did you keep going after that?

SUU KYI: Well, how could I not keep going after that? One has to keep going, especially because of incidents like that.

AMANPOUR: You talk about the sanctions. There seems to be something of a debate about how actually effective and instrumental the sanctions were in causing these reforms, in causing the military dictatorship to pave the path towards democracy.

Are you convinced that sanctions actually did it? Because obviously they still had access to all sorts of bridges (ph), and they really hurt quite a lot of the common people. A lot of people lost their jobs.

SUU KYI: Of course, it wasn't sanctions alone that brought about the reforms. But I think sanctions played a very, very important part. After all, if not, why is it that the Burmese government has been asking for the removal of sanctions? I think they were politically very effective. I do not agree that they affected the Burmese economy that much.

I always quote the IMF and say that they have come to the conclusion that the Burmese economy was not that much affected by the sanctions, and what had created the mess in Burma was simply mismanagement.

AMANPOUR: So you think politically and psychologically --

SUU KYI: Yes.

AMANPOUR: -- they were more effective?

SUU KYI: I think so.

AMANPOUR: In the by-elections, you think the regime was surprised that you won so many, your party won so many of the seats? Practically all of the ones that were contested.

SUU KYI: I think a great many of them were. I'm sure there were some who realized that this is how it was going to turn out.

AMANPOUR: And what do you expect from the next set of elections in 2015? Do you expect to become the majority?

SUU KYI: I think it's too early to think of 2015. And I think the next two years are the more important ones, how we develop into a working democracy. And that will decide what the 2015 elections will be like.

AMANPOUR: I want to ask you a couple of personal questions, because you're a very public person.

SUU KYI: I usually don't like personal questions.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: I know you don't. But as a mother, I want to ask you about the price that it took to do what you did.

I think many working mothers -- you know, we grapple with our absences; we grapple with how to make it up to our kids. And yours have been more dramatic and more intense than any mother I can imagine.

Do you wonder how one day you can make it up to your kids? Do you feel you have? Do you feel that's a resolved relationship?

SUU KYI: I don't think of it as making up to my children, because after all, they're not children any more. They're grown up -- if they were. And you can't make it up to them as children because they're no longer children and they probably wouldn't like me to treat them as children anymore.

In fact, I'm sure -- I'm sure they won't like to be treated as children any more. So I think what I would simply wish to do is to learn to have a good relationship with them across the distance that separates us.

AMANPOUR: I read that you're estranged from your son, Alexander, but you will see him?

SUU KYI: I'm not estranged from son. I think this is the kind of rumor that goes around when people don't see one another for many, many years.

AMANPOUR: When we last talked, you warned against reckless optimism. Do you think that the optimism about Burma, Myanmar, is reckless these days? Or do you feel it's now on the solid path?

SUU KYI: I think on the part of some, it's still reckless. I have to mention my favorite economist, who works in Burma, Sean Turnell (ph), and he talks about the gold rush of investors. And I do not want that sort of thing. This is what I mean by reckless optimism. It will not help our country and I think it might disappoint the investors as well.

So I want everybody to consider what they are doing and to weigh the pros and cons and to do what is best for our country as well as for themselves. I want investors to profit. That's what investing is all about. Their investments must bear fruit. Well, that fruit should be shared between our people and the investors themselves.

AMANPOUR: And what shall we call your country? I hear you call it Burma in most of your public presentations. It is Myanmar.

SUU KYI: It's a matter of choice. It's Myanmar in Burmese and some time back, I think in the 1990s -- I'm not quite sure when -- the State Law and Order Restoration Council -- very Orwellian name --

AMANPOUR: SLORC.

SUU KYI: SLORC. That's right. Even the sound is rather Orwellian -- SLORC decided that Burma should henceforth be called Myanmar in English as well. But I think we have the right to a freedom of expression. And we can choose to call it the name that we feel comes most naturally to us.

AMANPOUR: Aung San Suu Kyi, thank you very much for joining me.

SUU KYI: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: And as an elected politician, Suu Kyi is now accountable to the people there and to the country, also accountable to the minorities.

And after a break, we'll turn to another nation in the throes of change and that's Pakistan.

Imran Khan is a sporting legend, but he wants to be a lot more. As prime minister, he says, he has stopped the drone war. But can he bring function to one of the most dysfunctional countries on Earth?

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back to tonight's program, where we're looking at some of the top stories that we've covered this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Earlier this month, a U.S. drone attack killed a midlevel Al Qaeda officer in his home in Pakistan's North Waziristan province. Three of his family members were also killed in the attack. It was the most recent of more than 40 drone strikes recorded in Pakistan this year.

And my guest is Imran Khan. He blames America's deadly drone attacks for the rising extremism in Pakistan's tribal areas. Imran Khan is the one- time cricket legend and Pakistani icon turned populist leader. His political party, PTI, is leading in the polls right now. And it's almost twice as popular as Pakistan's current ruling party.

I spoke with Imran Khan from Islamabad last October.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Imran Khan, thank you for joining me.

IMRAN KHAN, PAKISTAN POLITICIAN: My pleasure.

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.

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.

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. We got the reception and they were received by the people of Waziristan. They 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 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, that you don't know what you're talking about.

(LAUGHTER)

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 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 Khan, thank you very much for joining me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Give peace a chance. Those words, of course, can also be directed towards Israel, the U.S. and Iran, where a nuclear stalemate continues.

But Iran isn't all about nukes and brinksmanship. Inside, another struggle is taking place and that's the battle for human rights. We'll meet one of the lonely warriors when we come back.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine living only on water mixed with sugar and salt. That's the diet of hunger strikers.

And for Nasrin Sotoudeh, it was all the food she had for 49 days. A lawyer and human rights activist in Iran, she was convicted of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security. And she was sentenced to six years in Iran's notorious Evin Prison, a place full of so many dissident intellectuals that it's been nicknamed Evin University.

Iran denies having any political prisoners, but Sotoudeh became a cause celebre, winning this year's Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. She's an admirer of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. And Sotoudeh even thanked the judge who sentenced her, saying that she couldn't bear to be free while so many of her clients were still in prison.

But she's also a wife and a mother and when authorities imposed a travel ban on her 12-year-old daughter, Ms. Sotoudeh went on a hunger strike, her second in two years. And when her condition worsened, there was a rising chorus of concern around the world. When an Iranian court recently gave in and lifted the ban on her daughter, Sotoudeh ended her strike.

But it's premature to declare victory. That will come when she walks out of prison, free to be with her family and to do her job.

And that's it for tonight's program. Meantime, you can always contact us on our website, amanpour.com. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.

END