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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Interview With Michael Krepon

Aired January 13, 2002 - 09:09   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: More now on the simmering tension between India and Pakistan. Was President Pervez Musharraf just giving lip service to crack down on terrorism in Pakistan? Or can India and the world expect some real action?

With some perspective, we're joined by Michael Krepon, President of the Henry Stimson Center in Washington.

Good to see you, Henry -- or Michael, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Michael.

MICHAEL KREPON, HENRY STIMSON CENTER: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Let's begin with Musharraf's address yesterday. Did you follow it, and what's your first impression? What did you think about what he had to say as he addressed the world?

KREPON: It was a very strong speech. It was the speech that friends of Pakistan and the government of India have been asking a Pakistani leader to make for quite some time. He said Pakistan has to come first. That's important.

He talked about a jihad against illiteracy and poverty, rather than bloodletting. That's very important. And he said that Pakistan will not be supporting terrorism in any form. That's very important. We'll be following up on that.

PHILLIPS: He also, I noticed, made many points about his religion, and that he felt these extremists were exploiting his religion, and also that they were not "contractors of God." What did you think about what he had to say and the points that he made about religion within this whole turmoil and the tension that's happening right now?

KREPON: It is time to put Pakistan first. It is time to put the vision of the founding father of Pakistan back in front of the country, and that's what Musharraf has done. He's talking about a tolerant, progressive Islam.

Now there are three dangers in the immediate aftermath of the speech. One, Violence. Whenever anybody takes a positive step, folks who are negatively affected are going to lash out. So we have to look out for violence in Pakistan, in India, and in Kashmir. The second danger is that India will overplay its hand. India needs to give Musharraf space and time to succeed. Keeping these two armies on hair-trigger alert does not help.

And the third danger is that Musharraf can not or will not follow up. He is a marked man right now. He has a lot of work to do, and I think he's up to the challenge.

PHILLIPS: And now you have Secretary of State Colin Powell that's going to be making a trip to the region. Should the U.S. be involved right now, or how should the U.S. be involved? Where do you see Colin Powell's role and the message he's going to bring to the region?

KREPON: Well, I see two very important messages by the Secretary of State. The message to Pakistan is to follow up and the whole world will be watching. The message to India is de-escalate. Do not overplay this. You finally have a government in Pakistan that is saying what you asked for. Give this government a chance to succeed. The time has come really to take the two armies off hair-trigger alert.

PHILLIPS: Michael Krepon with the Henry Stimson Center, thank you so much. We'll continue to, of course, follow Colin Powell's trip and the developments that happen between India and Pakistan. Thank you.

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