Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Admiral Mike Mullen; Interview with Hina Rabbani Khar

Aired October 2, 2011 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is the GPS, the Global Public Square. Welcome to all our viewers in the United Stated and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

We have an important show for you today. The chairman of the joint chiefs staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, created a firestorm when he revealed what some call an open secret, that the deadliest terror organization in the AfPak region is a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's military.

I spoke to Mullen about that and much more in his final TV interview in office. We'll follow that up with Islamabad's side of the story. I sat down with the new foreign minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar. All that, plus the hysteria over gold, is it a bubble? And finally, the bold truth about criminology. I'll explain.

But first, here's my take. America's job crisis persists, and there seems to be little we can do about it. But actually there is one area where government can create jobs even if consumers aren't spending and businesses aren't hiring. And in a way that is productive for long-term growth. Rebuilding America.

The American society of civil engineers estimates that America's crumbling infrastructure needs $2 trillion worth of repairs, upgrades, and expansions. With needs on that scale, President Obama's infrastructure proposals are at 120th the size of the problem. We need a big plan and a ground bargain between left and right to get it. The first element of the bargain would be funding. Already there are several good proposals for infrastructure banks. Relatively small public investments can be leveraged to attract much larger sums of private capital. Compared with other countries, the U.S. still has an astonishingly low amount of private sector involve in the building of infrastructure, roads, bridges, highways.

With interest rates at historic lows, borrowing $200 million by issuing 30 or 50-year bonds to rebuild America would add just a few billion dollars a year to the deficit. Then you need to actually build it. President Obama says he was surprised there are so few shovel-ready projects. Well, the regulations, reviews, and permits required to improve infrastructure ensures that any major project takes years, often decades to be shovel-ready.

In fact, one study of a set of infrastructure projects found that was all countries examined, the U.S. had the highest proportion of projects stuck at what is called the preapproval stage, announced but still three to ten years from construction. It has more than 3 1/2 times the number of projects as in Europe.

So the president should announce a national jobs emergency. Infrastructure projects listed under this should be fast tracked through any environmental review process with approvals granted within 60 days. Additionally, the requirement that people have to be paid union wages should be suspended so that skilled and unskilled workers can be hired.

In return for these exemptions, Democrats should seek $20 billion in capital for the new infrastructure banks which could easily attract private capital of hundreds of billions of dollars more within week. There's really no debate about the need to invest in infrastructure. The conservative leaning center for strategic and international studies issued a report in 2006 noting that U.S. productivity and living standards were declining as a consequence of neglect.

It urged federal involvement and investment, pointing out that "creating infrastructure assets with long-lived benefits should not be determined by short-term cash availability." It noted "federal deficits sap our economic growth and must inevitably be paid. But failing to support long-term growth could prove even more vexing. By whatever means, it is imperative that we make new investments." After 2012 presidential candidates, just one was a signatory on that report for guiding principles for strengthening America's infrastructure.

So I look forward to hearing a full-throated case for infrastructure spending during the campaign from that person, Rick Perry. Let's get started.

My first guest was until 12:01 a.m. on Saturday morning the top officer in all of the United States armed forces. Admiral Michael Mullen has held the position of chairman of the joint chiefs since 2007. In that post he was the top military adviser to President George W. Bush and Obama. He gave the president's council on the worst in Iraq, in Afghanistan and the war in terror. He told them how he felt about don't ask, don't tell and offered advice on the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

You'll note Mullen is still in uniform in the interview. We taped our interview on Wednesday before he handed over his office to his successor, General Martin Dempsey. This was Mullen's last interview in office.


ZAKARIA: Admiral, thank you for joining us.


ZAKARIA: Let's start with the biggest news, the elephant in the room, shall we say. Last week you described the Haqqani network as a veritable arm of the Pakistani military. Now for our viewers to understand, the Haqqani network is the most deadly terrorist group in Pakistan that operates across the border in Afghanistan. Sometimes in Pakistan, kills Afghans, kills Americans, kill Westerners. You have a very long relationship with Pakistan. You have been engaged with this country. You've travelled there. I saw an account, at 27 times. You met with your counterpart General Kayani, dozens of times. What made you go public?

MULLEN: There's been a recent significant series of events from the bombing of the intercontinental earlier this year to the truck bomb that wounded 77 Americans, to the September 13 attack on the American embassy in Kabul. And I, in this campaign, in the war in Afghanistan, you know that I've always focused on the region. It's not just about one country, it's about both Afghanistan and Pakistan, and part of the biggest challenge is the safe havens that the - that the insurgents enjoy in Pakistan.

In Haqqani is the most virulent insurgent group, terrorist group in Pakistan and a great supporter of al Qaeda. In your question you said we're losing Afghan civilians, Afghan soldiers, and we're losing American soldiers because of the Haqqani network. And the link between the Pakistan military and specifically the ISI, their intelligence agency, is very well-known. And I have argued for the need to sever this link. That also has to do with getting control of that safe haven. That's not a new discussion. It's not a new issue. It's long lasting. But the intensity of the recent events and the strategic support that the ISI and the Pak mail both give to the Haqqani network directly and indirectly, is what I was focused on.

ZAKARIA: But you have been making case, I know privately, for a long time. This must have been a product of great frustration for you to go public. In other words, you have felt that your private pressure has not had the desired effect.

MULLEN: Well, as a military leader and as somebody who feels responsible for the 2.2 million men and women in uniform, the effort or actions on the part of the Haqqani network to literally kill my people is something I just can't tolerate anymore. And I don't expect it to stop overnight. Again, I don't think that's possible. But I think a concerted effort on the part of responsible people could have a big impact. And Secretary Panetta sat beside me in the same testimony that we would do whatever we can to protect our people, and we'll do exactly that.

ZAKARIA: Have you had any conversations with General Kiyani since you have made these statements?

MULLEN: No, I have not.

ZAKARIA: Would it be fair to say that the litmus test of whether the Pakistani military is getting serious about cutting of this link with the Haqqani network is that it would be willing to launch an operation in North Waziristan which is where this network is based, and without which, as you say, it seems impossible to ultimately succeed in Afghanistan because it has become the safe haven where the afghan fighters and leaders go when they're chased out of Afghanistan.

MULLEN: Well, it's something General Kiyani and I have talked about for the last couple of years. And there needs to be without being specific about how it would be done literally, this effect needs to cut off the Haqqani network, needs to be generated. How to do it, whether it should be an operation, whether it should be by other means, I'm not sure.

I am very sympathetic to the fact that General Kiyani's got some 150,000 troops deployed to that border. He's moved tens of thousands over the course of these last couple of years, they've lost. They've sustained thousands and thousands of casualties. They've lost a lot of civilians. So, there are huge challenges there. And I do understand that. And over time there is a possibility to have a military operation, have that kind of effect. We're in a much better situation in terms of cross border coordination than we were a couple of years ago. That said I don't see that occurring in the near future.

ZAKARIA: Let's talk about Afghanistan across the border. Do you believe that the troop withdrawals from Afghanistan will take place as, as, on schedule and in a way that there will be significantly fewer American troops in Afghanistan, say, in a year?

MULLEN: Certainly, we're on a plan right now to execute the president's decision, which is to essentially return the surge to the United States of some 33,000 troops, 10,000 out by the end this year. And General Allen has worked his way through how to do that now. And I'm very confident we'll do that. And then the other 23,000 out by the end of summer next year.

We are also, what we're seeing to support of support the efficacy of that decision is a much-improved afghan security force, both army and police. They're much more active, they're in the lead in places they haven't been in the past. The vast majority of operations are joint operations with them. So while there is this focus on 33,000 American troops coming out, what sometimes gets lost is there will actually be more forces in the field even with American forces coming out. And the vast majority of those will be Afghan. So I'm confident, that we're headed in the right direction, and that we can execute that strategy.

ZAKARIA: One of the puzzles about Afghanistan is why there hasn't been more reconciliation with some elements of the Taliban. The argument goes in order for us to really be able to draw down you need some political deal in place just as there was in Iraq. And the question arises, why has it been unable to draw some of the Taliban? Why has it not been possible to draw some of the Taliban back into the fold? Ryan Crocker, the ambassador, says it's because we haven't yet hit them hard enough or they haven't - they don't feel beaten down enough. Do you think that's true?

MULLEN: I do agree with that. I think that reconciliation takes place. You get them to the table when they're in a much weaker position. And there's no question that at some point in time there's got to be ail political solution here and reconciliation is key to that.

ZAKARIA: But is that compatible, that desire to hammer them more? Is that compatible with this drawdown?

MULLEN: Absolutely. In fact, I mean, if you looked at our forces in, for example, in Helmand and even Kandahar right now. There's, the violence forces are down some 15 percent to 20 percent from where they were a year ago. They're up in the east because there's - in eastern Afghanistan because there's a tougher fight there, and we're more focused there than we were before.

ZAKARIA: When we come back, more with Admiral Mullen. I'm going to ask him about Iraq. I'm going ask him about al Qaeda and about his last days in office and reflections on his tenure, when we come back.




ZAKARIA: And we are back with Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs on one of his last days in office.

Admiral, there are a lot of Americans right now who look at the situation in Afghanistan. And we're doing better, but there are still problems. But they say why can't we just get out or why can't we draw down substantially.

You notice even the Republican presidential candidates don't seem to have much enthusiasm for this campaign. What do you say to people when they say, why can't we go to the Biden plan? 30,000, 40,000 troops, you can do special ops. Why do we need to bring peace to Helmand and Kandahar?

MULLEN: Right now we're on the President Obama plan, and we'll stay with that. And from my perspective, the reason we're there is to make sure that we can achieve the principal goal which is ensure that Afghanistan can never become a safe haven for a terrorist organization like al Qaeda. That border region between the two countries is the epicenter of terrorism.

In Pakistan, you have a country that is very challenged from an economic standpoint, who has a growing internal terrorist challenge of its own, and it's a nuclear-armed country. And so the worst case for me is to see Pakistan deteriorate, and somehow get to a point where it's being run by insurgents who are in the possession of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons technology which would mean that that part of the world would continue to deteriorate and become much more dangerous.

So I think the focus is the right focus, and I think we're certainly moving forces at a measured rate, and in a way that we think the Afghans will be able to provide for their own security after we complete transition at the end of 2014.

ZAKARIA: You're also moving forces out of Iraq. The first question I have for you is, in order to maintain some presence in Iraq now that it is a fully sovereign country, has been for several years, we traditionally need what is called a status of forces agreement.

MULLEN: Right. Right.

ZAKARIA: Which means basically the Iraqis have to want it and have to sign up for it.

MULLEN: Right.

ZAKARIA: Are they going to sign up for it? Will we have established the forces agreement with Iraq?

MULLEN: Well, we believe that to generate the status of forces agreement, they have to put it through their parliament, their representative government. And so our ambassador, Jim Jeffrey is in talks with political leadership right now. As we continue to drawn in, we've got some 45,000 troops there. When I took this job over, I think it was about 165 or 170,000 in '07. So we've come down dramatically. We are now in a plan to withdraw all troops by the end of the year. That's under the current agreement we have with the Iraqis. And it's, it's truly extraordinary. I was there a couple of months ago. Truly extraordinary the term and that the turnaround that I've seen, and there's a chance. There's out there for 26 million people that just didn't exist four years ago.

So it is a nation democracy, we understand that. We went through our own challenges as we stood up our country from a democracy point of view. And I think they are, as well. But I hope that they can be a long-term friend and ally to us. And that's particularly important in that part of the world.

ZAKARIA: You once said that you thought it was it was a tragedy that the United States and Iran had so little contact and communication with one another. And that you actually worried about the possibility of miscalculations because there was so little contact and there were so many suspicions. Do you think we should make an effort to resume relations with Iran?

MULLEN: This is a country we haven't spoken to since desert one in 1979, since they took the American hostages there. And I do think that that does not bode well. One of the ways I characterize that is that even in the darkest days of the cold war we had contacts with the soviets. We had channels so we could, we could talk.

And so I do worry that we don't understand each other, that, that ,that this day and then we could misunderstand, miscalculate, and escalate what could be a minor situation into something much bigger in a part of the world that's dangerous enough already.

ZAKARIA: You've said that you thought our debt was the biggest national security challenge we faced long term. As we grapple with it, the Pentagon's budget is necessarily going to come under greater scrutiny.


ZAKARIA: Do you think that there is a responsible way to pare down Pentagon defense spending over the next decade or two in order to deal with our principal national security challenge?

MULLEN: I do. And from the overall threat to the country, it's really - it is simple math. I mean, the more our debt goes south, I think the fewer resources will be made available to the department of defense, and it's an extraordinarily challenging time in our history from a national security perspective. And we've got to sustain the capability to address the challenges, whether it's Iran or North Korea or rising China or Cyber or the focus on counterterrorism. These issues are not going to go away. We're going to have to make some choices here. We're working our way through now almost a half a trillion dollars worth of cuts. I think we can do that. It's very difficult, but we think we can manage it. I funding we had to do that again, we've got to fundamentally change our strategy and dramatically reduce what we're going to be doing as a military.

ZAKARIA: What has been the, the most fulfilling part of this job for you?

MULLEN: I think the opportunity to represent the 2.2 million men and women in uniform and their families, to listen to their voices, to lead the best military I've ever seen, to engage with their families, to listen to their - the challenges and trying to make it better for them who have sacrificed and given so much.

And then the other is just the privilege in this country to be the individual that provides advice to the president, in my case, to two presidents. It's an extraordinary privilege. It's one that I obviously take very, very seriously. So when I think about the most fulfilling part of it, of the job, it's really been those two things.

ZAKARIA: What was your best day?

MULLEN: Well, the best day was when we got bin Laden. And for a couple of reasons, one was huge impact in al Qaeda. And I indicated earlier, al Qaeda is not the organization that it used to be, though it's still trying to kill as many of us as possible. And - but the other part about that that sometimes gets lost for me. I've been around long enough. I was here for desert one. I was here when our military in the late '70s was deteriorating, if you will. And actually, I have felt the effects in my own life where I was assigned at the time, which was on a ship at sea.

And so that operation culminated not in just the capture or the killing of bin Laden but the culmination of 30 years of work, not just in the special operations world, although certainly it was done there, as well, but for our military. And I think it represents a tremendous improvement and focus in this all-volunteer professional force that's the best I've ever seen.

ZAKARIA: Admiral, pleasure to have you on.

MULLEN: Thanks, Fareed. It's great to be with you.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.


ZAKARIA: Now for our "what in the world" segment. What do Hugo Chavez and Glenn Beck have in common? The socialist populist president of Venezuela and the right wing talk show host often have strange ideas, just not the same strange ideas. But it turns out they are both gold bugs.


GLENN BECK, TV HOST: I bought this gold coin.


ZAKARIA: Now many people have been investing in gold, but Hugo Chavez wants to hoard it, physically, literally. The Venezuelan government controls the world's 15th largest stockpile of gold, about 365 tons. But like most gold investors, it doesn't really have that gold, at least not physically.

More than half of Venezuela's reserves are held overseas in London, Zurich, and New York. If you ever visit the New York Federal Reserve, you can even see it in the underground vaults, neatly labelled as Venezuela's.

Mr. Chavez you know doesn't like the west, he doesn't like his predicament. So, he's now announced he wants his gold. But how do you transport 211 tons of gold across the seas?

Well, by spending lots of money. You have to ensure against the gold heist like the one in "The Italian Job." **Experts say Mr. Chavez could spend at least 4 percent on insurance alone, with more on security and transport. Add it all up, and you could get about a half billion dollars spent. That's serious money for any country, let alone one that has negative growth rates as Venezuela does these days.

What in the world is Hugo Chavez thinking? Actually, he's not alone. From the ancient times of Egypt's study common to the gold rush in the mid 19th century right through the modern day, we've always been attracted to gold. Who can ever forget the appropriately named Auric Goldfinger from the James Bond movie?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Gold, Mr. Bond. All my life I've been in love with its color, its brilliance, its divine heaviness.


ZAKARIA: There are many who share Mr. Goldfinger's sentiments around the globe, especially in times of confusion and uncertainty about governments. People worry that governments are keeping interest rates too low, that will cause inflation and could weaken the dollar and other currencies. So the answer -- store gold. Something that has always been seen as a solid, substantial hedge against inflation. If everything else collapses, the theory goes, gold will hold its value. For this reason, in the last decade, gold prices have risen more than 600 percent. Is this a rational response to legitimate fears of inflation? Or are we in the middle of a bubble? There are certainly signs that suggest a bubble. The fact is global demand for gold in industry and jewelry has actually declined by 18 percent since 2004.

And yet over the same period, prices have surged. So, it's clear that the market is flooded with speculators who see gold as an investment, not as a usable currency or product. What's really changed in the last few years is access. It's easier to buy gold over the internet than it is stocks or shares these days. In places like Abu Dhabi and some European cities, you can buy grams of gold at ATM- style dispensers. All over the world, there's a new gold rush. You switch on the TV, and commercials warn you that you need to put your money in gold.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Talking about gold prices. Gold has risen to new records.


ZAKARIA: Glenn Beck says, if you haven't switched your savings to gold, you're nuts.


GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: God, gold, and guns.


ZAKARIA: And Donald Trump is now accepting gold bars instead of wire transfers for his luxury condos. This is bizarre. A lot of it is simply scare mongering. The truth is that for two-and-a-half decades, between 1980 and the mid 2000s, gold prices actually declined unlike many other commodities which have actual end uses, oil and minerals, gold is just a symbol. As such, its price rises have more to do with psychology and emotion rather than reason. So, when it falls out of fashion, the price could really collapse. So, the next time you watch Goldfinger --


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.


ZAKARIA: Or hear of the antics of a Hugo Chavez or a Donald Trump, be a little wary. Gold isn't the stock with real earnings. It isn't a bond with interest payments. It isn't oil. It won't help you drive a car, it won't help you light a fire. Yes, you can wear it, but you can't eat it. If doomsday really arrives, a can of baked beans might be worth a lot more than a brick of gold. We'll be right back.


ZAKARIA: Pakistan has been called the most dangerous country in the world. It seems more dangerous for Americans these past few months as public sentiment seems to be getting more negative and at the very highest levels, U.S. officials now believe that parts of Pakistan's military are in cahoots with insurgent groups that have been attacking Americans. Earlier on GPS, you heard chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen make those assertions frankly. Now, Pakistan's response.


Hina Rabbani Khar was appointed foreign minister in July. She is the youngest person and the first woman to hold that post. Welcome, Foreign Minister.


ZAKARIA: Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been known to be a friend of Pakistan. He has had very good ties with the Pakistani government. He has been an advocate of engagement with Pakistan. Yet he felt clearly frustrated enough that he publicly pointed out something that frankly reporters and diplomats have said privately for a long time, which is that the ISI has links with the Haqqani Faction. The ISI being the intelligence wing of Pakistan's military and Haqqani Faction being the most deadly of the militant groups in Pakistan based in Pakistan that attack Americans and Afghans, Westerners, Indians. He points specifically to the attack on the U.S. Embassy and says that there are cell phone intercepts that show that the Pakistani military was assisting in that attack. Now, surely this is beyond a problem of misunderstandings.

KHAR: Uh-huh. Certainly, this is something that I have reacted to adequately, I think, before. We feel that public recrimination of any sort, of any sort at all is not the answer. We feel that we are allies in this effort, in this very, very large effort, which is very, very daunting, which is very challenging. And we feel very strongly, as I said before, that we need to engage more rather than disengage. Public recrimination of an ally is not the answer. It should not be the answer.

ZAKARIA: But clearly Admiral Mullen felt that his private conversations were not going anywhere, otherwise he wouldn't have taken this very unusual step.

KHAR: But Fareed, again, you know...

ZAKARIA: People have known these things for years. Clearly, there is some level of frustration in the U.S. government at the fact that these ties continue, and seem to actually be directed increasingly at Americans.

KHAR: Uh-huh. We strongly deny that. We feel that this is completely incorrect. That this is what could be called, you know, a biased statement. We feel that we are the ones who have reacted the most. We are the ones who have sacrificed the most. We are the ones who are fighting it on the ground, on a daily basis, we feel that...

ZAKARIA: You have never fought the Haqqani Faction. You have never moved into North Waziristan. So, there's always been the feeling and the U.S. government has always said this, you attack militants in Pakistan who kill Pakistanis. You do not attack militants in Pakistan who use Pakistan as a base to attack Afghans or Americans or westerners or Indians or anybody else.

KHAR: I would completely deny that. I think we've had joint cooperation. I think we have had joint cooperation which goes as recent as, you know, two weeks back when Al-Mauritani (ph) who's the number three supposedly in Al-Qaeda was arrested in a joint intelligence cooperation, assisted arrest. Now -- within that the recrimination on Pakistan is something that we have serious reservations about.

ZAKARIA: Well, the argument is that Pakistan has created a Frankenstein's monster by supporting these groups. Many of them have turned on Pakistan. This is, in fact, the argument that was consistently being made by Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistani journalist, the very brave Pakistani journalist who, again, it is widely believed was killed by the Pakistani military because he had exposed some of the ties that the Pakistani military had with Al- Qaeda.

KHAR: OK, first of all, this Frankenstein was not created by Pakistan. This Frankenstein was financed and assisted by many world powers, including that was the U.S. So, while we are left behind to sort out the mess as the fear of Pakistanis is and this might happen again, we must not forget the historical evidence that we have which has led us to the place that we have. This is my plea to you. Let's not try and oversimplify a situation which is very, very complex. And let's not try and alienate a populace. I'm not as concern about alienating the government of Pakistan, as foreign minister, my concern is you alienating the people of Pakistan.

You cannot afford to do that. It's 180 million people whose lives have been harmed, risked, affected as we speak today. Please understand, please accept the fact that our lives are being damaged, changing every day. We have lost far too many people, far too many important people, far too many ordinary men, women, and children. A school bus was attacked by the Taliban in Pakistan in which nine young children, ages 7 to 12 maybe, died. Was Pakistan doing it to itself? You take your responsibility, your share of the burden in creating the Frankenstein's which are haunting both of us, we are willing to share the burden. We are actually more than doing our share of the burden.

ZAKARIA: Will the Pakistani government launch an offensive in North Waziristan against the Haqqani Faction? This is the most deadly, brutal terrorist organization in Pakistan right now.

KHAR: Fareed, on that I will humbly say that I have said repeatedly that I do not like to carry my diplomacy with an important ally through the media. And let me also very humbly say that it takes two to tango. There are many things that the U.S. would have to do...

ZAKARIA: Like what?

KHAR: As I said, I do not like to carry out my diplomacy through -- and it is not, by the way, let me just assure you, it is not please do this for us and then we will do this. As I said, I think this relationship is over defined by aid syndrome. I think your congressmen and your senators feel too strongly about the assistance that they give. And let me just say over here that most of that is reimbursement for the expenditure that we are incurring out of our own pocket. We are not building schools and health facilities because some of those reimbursements don't come on time.

ZAKARIA: But do you understand how an average American might feel whatever the costs of a war that you have -- you are fighting presumably for your own reasons, you're not doing this to be nice to America. The United States has provided over $25 billion in aid to Pakistan. It has committed to providing much more. Americans look at that and say, not only what are we getting from that, but what kind of an ally is this if when there are attacks on American troops, it turns out that there are elements of the Pakistani government supporting it? Do you understand how that makes it very difficult for any American government to continue to provide the kind of engagement and support that you're describing?

KHAR: You have asked me many questions about what an average American feels. Let me just speak to them, average American directly and say, we need your assistance. We need your support. Not your material support, we need your moral support. We need to be seen as a worthy partner. We need to ensure that as partners, we can respect each other's dignity as sovereign states. That's just what Pakistan asks of you, that's it.


ZAKARIA: That might be all the Pakistanis ask of the United States, but I have much more to ask their foreign minister. Back in a moment.


ZAKARIA: We are back now with Hina Rabbani Khar, the 34-year-old foreign minister of Pakistan. We talked before the break about the challenges in U.S.-Pakistani relations. I wanted to know more about her own challenges.


ZAKARIA: You are a woman in a country in which it is not that usual to have women in very high levels of office, though of course you had a prime minister who was a woman. There are lots of people who believe women should not be in positions like yours, and believe that women should be covered even more, should dress even more modestly than you're dressing, even though you are dressed very modestly. How do you operate in this environment?

KHAR: Actually, that's a good question because I think that just shows what Pakistan is. I mean, Pakistan has produced the first woman Muslim prime minister. Pakistan has produced the first woman speaker of the National Assembly. I'm a foreign minister. There are, of course, other Muslim countries which also have foreign ministers. We have a lot of representation of women in parliament. We have a lot of representation of women in different workplaces. So, there is a perception that, you know, women -- it's difficult to be a woman in a society or a culture like that of Pakistan. But the reality is that I have never felt that being a woman has in any way impaired my ability to be able to work or has ensured that I'm not taken seriously. If anything, I think being a woman gets you more credit than you deserve because people almost don't expect it was you. And that doesn't only have to do with Pakistan. It has to do with many other countries also.

ZAKARIA: But if you don't find that there are mullahs or extremist groups that say that you shouldn't be in holding this position, that that kind of line of argument?

KHAR: There is -- I'm not denying the fact that there exists an element within society which is much more extremist than we would ideally like them to be. But that's their point of view. That's a minority in Pakistan, that is not the majority in Pakistan. Unfortunately in the western media, it has always been projected as an overwhelming majority.

ZAKARIA: As a woman, as a Muslim woman, modern, how do you feel you reform Islam or how do you ensure that that minority view, more extreme, more hostile to women, doesn't prevail? Is it a question of intellectually combating it? I mean, how do you make the case that a woman's testimony should be worth as much as a man's in court?

KHAR: First of all, I would strongly argue that we do not need to. That the need to reform Islam is not there. The need to reform how we implement some of the principles of Islam is certainly there. We have always argued that it is in the implementation of the blasphemy law that we have issues.

ZAKARIA: So, you actually defend the idea of a blasphemy law in 2011?

KHAR: There are many other countries in the world which also have laws which are very similar...

ZAKARIA: Like Saudi Arabia. Is that your role model?

KHAR: Like Iceland, for instance. That is not either, I mean, no country is any country's role model. I think every country has to really develop itself. But what I am seeing is that we must be mindful of the challenges that we face. We cannot pick up every reform at the same time. We must prioritize. Today, Fareed, I think if there is one issue that we face and face rather, you know, as a daunting challenge, it is that Pakistan has no depth of challenges. If you give me two minutes, I can count the challenges from humanitarian crisis leading out of major disasters. Since 2005, Pakistan has suffered, you know, one major earthquake, the floods of 2010 which displaced 20 million people. Before that, they internally displaced persons of, you know, a similar proportion running into millions. Today, even as I speak to you, all of -- most of Sindh is under flood. Five million people have lost their homes. So with the other challenges which are far more well-known, we have faced these challenges which have literally pulled us down in many ways.

ZAKARIA: Foreign Minister, thank you very much.

KHAR: Thank you, pleasure being here.


ZAKARIA: And we will be back.


ZAKARIA: One note about last week's interview with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan before we get on with the show. The translation heard on the show had Mr. Erdogan saying that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had been killed by Israel. That's how Mr. Erdogan own official translator translated his boss' words. We had an outside translator to check the translation, and that's how she translated it, as well. There was critical reaction to the remarks, including from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who told the "Jerusalem Post" that Israel, quote, "Certainly has not taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians," unquote. That prompted us to seek a new translation and a re-examination of the tape shows that Mr. Erdogan actually said, quote, "Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed," unquote. Not, "hundreds of thousands." We hope this clarifies the matter, and we regret the error.

Now, if you heard a small sigh of relief this week, it might have been coming from Europe. On Thursday, German lawmakers voted to boost that nation's contribution to a bailout fund for its neighbors. The entire fund is now $600 billion. My question of the week is, how many billions of bailout dollars is Germany contributing to the Euro fund? Is it, A, 87, B, 187, C, 287, or D, 387 billion dollars? Stay tuned. And we'll tell you the correct answer.

Make sure to go for ten more questions. While you're there, check out our Web site, the "Global Public Square." You will always find fresh content, analysis, and insights into the stories that are changing our world. And you can also follow us on twitter and Facebook. My book of the week is Tom Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum's " That Used To Be Us." It is a very intelligent and highly readable explanation of the challenges facing America today. More importantly, the authors prescribe solutions, most of which I agree with. So, pick up the book, and then tune in next week when Tom Friedman will be my guest.

Now for the last look. Kremlin watchers have historically looked for all kinds of signs to determine the pecking order of who will be the next leader. Well, the "Financial Times" has found one indicator that seems to be foolproof. Let's see if you can spot it.

The line of succession goes from Tsar Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia, to Lenin to Stalin, to Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, spotted trend? No, I'll keep going. Chernenko, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, Medvedev. Do you see it now? I'll tell you. Unfailingly, they alternate from having a thick shock of hair to being almost bald and then back again.

So, when Prime Minister Putin announced he was going to run for president again, it really comes as no surprise. There weren't any other bald candidates. So, I guess for 2024, we should be looking for a very hairy Russian president in waiting.

The correct answer to our "GPS" challenge question was C, $287 billion is Germany's total contribution to the Euro fund.

That means the nation will be shouldering almost half the cost of digging its neighbors out of debt. Go to our Web site for more.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week. Stay tuned for "RELIABLE SOURCES."