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Virginia Governor Tells White Supremacists to Go Home; North Korea Tensions; Violent History of India-Pakistan Partition; Outrage Grows over Child Deaths at Indian Hospital; Battle against ISIS. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired August 14, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Charlottesville, Virginia is still reeling from Saturday violence during a white nationalist rally. And now the White House has stepped up its criticism of white supremacist groups.
Plus the top U.S. General arrives in South Korea while the North reportedly keeps working on plans for missiles aimed at the island of Guam.
And 70 years ago this week: the independence of India and Pakistan and a partition that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. We'll go to both sides of the border in the show.
Hi, everybody. Thank you very much for joining us.
I'm Cyril Vanier, live from the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta.
Virginia officials were telling white supremacists on Sunday to go home. That's after a deadly attack targeting counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally on Saturday.
A car rammed through the crowd killing one woman and injuring 19 people. Police have identified the woman as 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Now police are digging into why the suspect carried out the attack.
Our Brian Todd has more on the investigation.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're getting some important new information now about the suspect in the car strike which killed the young woman here in Charlottesville. The suspect, of course, named James Alex Fields, 20 years old from Ohio.
This information coming to us from our justice producer, Mary Kay Maloney. She, from a Justice Department official familiar with the investigation is reporting that federal investigators have enough evidence to be suspicious that this suspect James Fields intended to send some kind of a message with that strike.
Aside from just intending to harm these victims on the street, they say there may be some evidence suggesting he may have intended to send a broader message. Also according to this official, officials are investigating whether he had any accomplices in this attack. People who might have helped him plan this attack.
That is part of an ongoing civil rights investigation from the Justice Department.
Some other information we're getting about the suspect, a teacher of his from high school, a man named Derek Wimer has told reporters that James Fields had some kind of an infatuation with Nazis, that it was disturbing to him -- this teacher, and that is, you know, again what he's telling reporters indicating that there may have been some extremist views on the part of this suspect.
The suspect is due to be arraigned Monday morning here in Charlottesville. He's charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, one count of failure to stop in an accident which resulted in a death.
This all comes off another day of high tension here in Charlottesville, Virginia where one of the white supremacist leaders who staged that rally on Saturday tried to hold a news conference here on Sunday not far from where I'm standing. And he was shouted down. This man's name is Jason Kessler.
He showed up here. He was shouted down by counter-protesters. People played music trying to drown him out. Then people converged on him and he went down to the ground. Not clear if he was pushed or if he fell.
But at that point, the police swooped in and got him out of there for his own safety. They held him for a period here in the police department here in Charlottesville and then they whisked him away.
But again anger and frustration still boiling over here in Charlottesville.
Brian Todd, CNN -- Charlottesville, Virginia
VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump is facing backlash for his response to the violence in Virginia. While he condemned the hatred and bigotry he said that many sides were responsible and he wouldn't denounce white nationalism by name.
CNN's Brian Stelter has the latest on that.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: Hey, there.
A White House aide in a familiar position on Sunday trying to explain and defend President Trump's statement from the day before. We've seen this story before but this weekend it happened about a very serious situation, the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia that were attributed to white nationalists and white supremacist groups.
Some of the men, they were mostly young men, who turned out for this unite the right rally in Charlottesville, were out and out racists expressing, racist and anti-Semitic views to anyone who would listen in Charlottesville. Hundreds of counter protesters turned out in order to condemn their views and there were clashes in the streets of Charlottesville.
The President's response was widely criticized on Saturday afternoon. Many commentators including some on the right saying that it didn't go far enough because the President didn't speak specifically about white nationalists and white supremacists. That he didn't call out the racism that was obvious in Charlottesville.
Now, we've heard from some GOP senators and other lawmakers who agreed that the President should have gone much further. And now there's even more pressure on the White House to try to do clean up and to see if the President will say more.
[00:04:50] An anonymous White House official said on Sunday that it's obvious the President was speaking about groups like the KKK and other white supremacists when he condemned hate and bigotry. But because the President didn't actually use those words, there remains a lot of skepticism.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe called out the President and others on a Sunday saying that we should hear from public officials and leaders about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: I call upon every elected official from the White House to the State House to all the local officers. We've got to call it out for what it is. It is hatred, it is bigotry and our leaders got to be very frank, unequivocal -- we will not tolerate that in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: President Trump was relatively quiet on the matter on Sunday.
Back on Friday he did promise to hold a quote, "pretty big press conference on Monday when he briefly returns to Washington during his 17-day visit to New Jersey to his golf course in Bedminster.
So he'll be in Washington on Monday and we'll see if he follows through on that press conference promise. It would be an opportunity in front of the country and the world to say more about the violence in Charlottesville.
Brian Stelter, CNN -- New York.
VANIER: And joining me now are CNN political commentators -- Marc Lamont Hill and Ben Ferguson. Gentlemen -- first the Vice President weighed in a short while ago. Let's listen to Mike Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.
The President also made it clear that behavior by others of different militant perspectives are also unacceptable in our political debate and discourse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: So Marc -- to you first. Over the last 36 hours now, the President Donald Trump was criticized for not naming white supremacists. Do you feel with the response -- with this intervention by Mike Pence -- that the overall response by the President and the Vice President was appropriate?
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the Vice President's response was appropriate and clear enough. We wish that Donald Trump had been as clear in giving his first (inaudible)?
Obviously Mike Pence represents the White House and I'm glad that he extended the conversation. But this is something the President should have done. Mike Pence should not have had to come in and pinch hit for the President any more than he has on Middle East issues, any more than he has on domestic issues.
This is the one issue where the President Donald Trump has fallen short of his own commitment to saying whatever he's thinking and whatever he's feeling if in fact he feels as strongly as Pence does.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look I think the President when he walked out there initially knew that there was a state of emergency that had been declared. He just talked to the governor. He realized that was both sides were very angry.
The number one concern of the governor from what we understand at that point, and the state police and local authorities was that there was going to be major problems last evening. And that it could cost people their lives.
And I think when the President walks out and I want to quote him exactly, he said, I condemn the quote, "egregious displays of hatred, bigotry and violence --
VANIER: We can actually play the sound bite from the President. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides -- on many sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: On man sides.
VANIER: So the U.S. President got a lot of criticism for that, Ben.
FERGUSON: Right. And I think what his point lies is that we did not need to have more violence spill out into the streets overnight. And that's what he was trying to avoid.
A state of emergency had been declared in that state by the governor, for goodness sakes. I mean this is a situation where I think being a leader is actually saying to both sides that were involved in violence, go home. And there was violence on both sides. I know that --
VANIER: But Ben -- let me, let me read to you Ben -- I want to read to you how some white supremacists actually reacted to that. This is what one of them wrote on the "Daily Stormer" --
VANIER: -- if you're not familiar with it -- a neo-Nazi Web site. The Trump comments were good, they said. He didn't attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.
Also he refused to answer a question about what nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn he just walked out of the room. Really, really good.
So you've got some white supremacists feeling that the President is on their side apparently.
FERGUSON: Or you just took the bait and gave white supremacist groups free advertising which is exactly what they do in these situations. That's the reason why I don't look at what these individuals say.
And I certainly don't give it the air time because whether it's David Duke or whatever the name of that publication was that you just cited, that's exactly why they write things like these because then the media will grab it and run with it and it gets them free press and free attention.
[00:10:00] VANIER: Ok -- Marc.
FERGUSON: Here's what I'll say. Those people are crazies. And guess what, they now are able to reach more people and to bring more crazies into their group, which is unfortunate. But I don't think we should give them any air time because of their disgusting, racist, bigoted, God-awful human beings and we should never mention their groups in my opinion.
VANIER: That is precisely what the President did not say -- the words that you said.
LAMONT HILL: So a couple of things. One, you know, President Trump or even Ben in this case is talking about this whole both sides. To use the language of both sides suggest that there are two groups people who are of equal moral footing who are simply disagreeing with each other.
This was not a clash of the titans between extremist groups. This was white nationalists, anti-Semites, white supremacists who started a protest and a riot in a public space. They should be condemned.
And then to say that those who resist them are on the same brand as all sides (inaudible) -- that is absurd. All the President has to say is these people are wrong and everyone else should go home.
But instead he said both sides. That way it doesn't frame the white supremacists as bad.
One more thing, one more thing -- Ben. My second point is, when we talk about -- yes, you can say we shouldn't give advertising to white supremacists I'll probably be inclined to agree with you. However, that doesn't negate the fact that if you give a message that black people read as support of a white supremacist, that journalist read as support of white supremacists, and that the white supremacists themselves read as white supremacist that is troublesome.
If Barack Obama gave a speech that al Qaeda said we love it, he just made us look good, the right would be jumping on it and saying oh my God, this proves the point. Now somehow we can't acknowledge the point because we don't want to give credence or publicity to the white supremacist groups.
FERGUSON: Let me say this --
VANIER: To both of you gentlemen because --
FERGUSON: For example. Let me say this though -- two things. David Duke, for example, is going to bring out every single time there is a --
VANIER: He's a former KKK leader, by the way for our international audience.
FERGUSON: -- right. Sure. He's going to bring out Donald Trump's name. Why? Because then he gets on TV. And I think we just literally we're not going to take your bait. Now, let me say something else about what was going on the ground
there. You do have to be clear. There were people on both sides that were violent. There are pictures tha show people using spray paint cans as blow torches.
I tweeted one of them out from --
VANIER: Ben -- the governor of Virginia, Mr. McAuliffe says that the white supremacists were coming with automatic weapons. He didn't say that there were automatic weapons on both sides. He's saying that they were armed like the militia and had weapons, superior firepower to what the police had.
VANIER: Gentlemen -- I want both of you now to listen to what the mayor of Charlottesville said earlier this morning to general question that some have asked as to whether the presidency of Donald Trump favors this kind of moment.
Listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL SIGNER, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA: Well look at the campaign he ran. I mean look at the intentional cording both on the one hand of all these white supremacist, white nationalist group like that, anti-Semitic groups and then look on the other hand the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, you know, put to bed all those different efforts just like we saw yesterday. I mean this is not hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: So the question the mayor is raising is, is the U.S. President -- has the U.S. President through his policies, and through his previous campaign emboldened racists, Nazis, white supremacists? Marc -- you first.
LAMONT HILL: Well, certainly they feel emboldened. They say they're emboldened. And that's just a public statement because Ben has a point that we don't want to just give credence to the public.
If we look behind the scenes, if we look in their private chatrooms and listen to their newsletters, their transmissions we see that they clearly say we're emboldened by them. Their published statements say the same thing. Public policy reflects that.
The fact that that Donald Trump during his campaign was very, very reluctant to denounce David Duke and when he finally did it, he said, yes, yes, I denounce them -- right. And so there is this way in which they feel inspired by his campaign. White nationalist groups are getting more and more public and more and more powerful during the Trump era. That is an empirical fact.
So whether we think it's Trump's fault or not isn't even the point. They certainly feel and act -- are acting empowered by his presidency.
VANIER: Ben -- I want to give your right of response but it's got to be real quick.
FERGUSON: Yes, look, these groups have been dying out and getting smaller and smaller. The majority of the white supremacists, Nazis that they were there yesterday weren't even from the state of Virginia. They came from across the country and they figured it out. If you show up, and then you get the media and you say that somehow Donald Trump, you like him, they put you on TV. And it makes these groups bigger than what they are and it helps them recruit people, crazies that may not even know they exist or where they're coming from.
We've got to stop propping them up with their propaganda in the public when they play the card of, oh, I mentioned Donald Trump's name now look at me, me and my extremist, racist group Is on TV.
VANIER: All right. Ben Ferguson, Marc Lamont Hill -- really good to have you both on. Thank you very much.
VANIER: All right. Coming up after the break, the top U.S. General arrives in South Korea -- what this might mean to the soaring tensions with Pyongyang -- ahead.
[00:15:04] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The return of the sultry, southern air across the south eastern United States in the forecast here. We get a little bit of a southerly surge here.
So a lot of clouds and wet weather expected over the next 24 or so hours scattered about this region, predominantly around the panhandle region of Florida and eventually on into parts of the state of Arkansas on into the state of Tennessee where some heavy rainfall expected. Northern areas of Mississippi as well could see some tremendous thunderstorm activity so some flooding concern remains high across the region.
28 is what we look forward to around New York City, 27 in Montreal, another 28 back around northern portions there -- southern portions of Canada, northern United States into Winnipeg.
And also watching the tropics, of course. We do have a tropical storm there -- it's Gert (ph) and other areas medium chance of formation but Gert right now looks to be poised to at least make it up to a weak grade category 1 hurricane of the (inaudible) currents of the atmosphere want to push this off to the north and eventually off to the east. It is back out towards the Cape Verde island region where we're watching carefully.
Forty percent chance this will form some time this week. The storm system again, could threaten parts of the Caribbean so we'll watch that carefully. But right now, not too bad around Nassau 33, Havana Cuba comes in at 32 degrees looking at thunderstorms. Bogota (inaudible) gets in a few storms. Manaus -- another toasty day, it should be into the upper 30s across this region. And thunderstorms generally, hugging the northern tier of the continent.
VANIER: The United States' top general is now in South Korea to address the looming missile threat from North Korea. Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-In to discuss the situation.
And meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Secretary and Secretary of State both wrote an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" about the about the North Korea tensions. Part of it reads, "We are replacing the failed policy of strategic patience which expedited the North Korean threat with a new policy of strategic accountability. The object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
They go on to warn that "Any attack will be defeated and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an effective and overwhelming response.
CNN's Paula Hancocks joins me now from Seoul. Paula -- look, I'm curious to know what you think of this op-ed and what they wrote. We're getting a slightly clearer sense I think of what U.S. policy is after a week of pretty harsh rhetoric specially coming from the U.S. President.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Cyril -- I think certainly there is a case to be made that this feels like a pull back from the Trump administration. I mean certainly you had some incredibly strong words from the U.S. President Donald Trump last week. You had strong words also from the Defense Secretary.
[00:20:04] And so this op-ed by the Defense Secretary and the Secretary of State is really pushing forward the fact that they would like the diplomatic and the economic measures to work.
They said within this op-ed that, of course, the military option is there. That is the backup. But they are specifying that first and foremost they would like the sanctions to work and they would like the diplomacy to work saying that the object, as you say, of a peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization. That's the key, the peaceful pressure campaign.
So while at the same time you have the U.S. President saying that, you know, the military options are locked and loaded, you do now have this op-ed, this more measured op-ed from these two top diplomats pointing out that that is not the preferred option for the U.S. administration.
So I think certainly that will appease some people within South Korea, certainly within Japan. They will feel a little more easy, that this point of view has been put forward that what they believe, the South Koreans and the Japanese wanting sanctions, wanting diplomacy, certainly the Chinese wanting diplomacy, is also what Washington wants -- Cyril. VANIER: Paula -- a big part of that op-ed is also the pressure that they seem to be putting on China.
HANCOCKS: Absolutely. And this is consistent with what we've seen from the Trump administration really from day one, even before President Trump was sworn into office. They point out once again that roughly 90 percent of North Korea's trade is thanks to North Korea -- so calling on China once again to do more. The fact that China has this unique position to be able, the U.S. says to manipulate the situation to be able to pull North Korea back.
But of course, many experts you talk to say that China doesn't have that t leverage over North Korea it once did. The friendship is very -- on very bad terms at this point. But it does have that economic pressure and with the recent sanctions, this op-ed is saying that if China puts those sanctions into place fully and make sure that they're implemented fully then it could make a difference -- Cyril.
VANIER: All right. Paula Hancocks reporting live from Seoul, South Korea.
Let's keep talking about this, the former U.S. intelligence chief that North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons. Here was James Clapper earlier on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Ideally I love a denuclearized North Korea, but as I learned when I went there and I had some pretty intense dialogue with that that is a non-starter with them. That is their ticket to survival. And I don't see any way that they're going to give it up.
So I think our process, our thought process here ought to be on accepting it and trying to cap it or control it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: For more on this I'm joined from Hawaii by Carl Baker. He's the director of programs at Pacific Forum, the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Carl -- it's great to have you on the show with us. And I'd like you to address something that has struck me. All week we've have current and former U.S. security officials weigh in on North Korea. The current officials, the ones who are in power now, like Mike Pompeo or like the U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Secretary of Defense, are saying the goal is to denuclearize North Korea.
The previous security officials who no longer have to really answer for their actions, that ones that worked under Obama, like James Clapper that we've just heard from, are saying it's not going to happen. The U.S. will just have to live with this.
Do you think ultimately the U.S. will agree to live with a nuclear North Korea? CARL BAKER, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Yes, I
think they will but ultimately it's a little bit of a tricky word there because certainly the goal remains to denuclearize North Korea. The fact is, in the short term, there's no real way to do that. So that's why there's always been an attempt to try to get China to do it for us, to get some way to gain leverage over the denuclearization.
The fact is that, in the short term at least, there is no leverage that's going to convince North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons.
VANIER: Now, despite Donald Trump's words, unprecedented words last week, his administration seems to be prioritizing diplomacy and economic pressure. That now seems clear especially in light of that op-ed that we're talking about in the "Wall Street Journal".
BAKER: Yes. And I think -- I think that's right. I mean I think they are. And I think if you ask the people in the current administration, they'll say that, and then they'll say but it's is more intense. And that's sort of the byword, I think is the intensity of the actions.
So in fact, you know, when you look at what the most recent U.N. Security Council resolution was and also with diplomatic pressure to isolate North Korea is more intense operation than it was under the Obama administration which was really strategic patience and it was not as aggressive.
[00:25:06] VANIER: All right. Carl Baker reporting -- talking to us from Hawaii. Thank you very much for your time.
BAKER: Yes, thank you.
VANIER: With independence came tensions that last through this day. A look at the milestone anniversary of the end of colonialism in India when we come back. Stay with us.
VANIER: And welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. Let's take a look at your headlines.
Protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, shouted down t the organizer of Saturday's far right rally when he tried to make a public statement on Sunday. And that comes just one day after a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting against that same white supremacist rally. One woman was killed by the car ramming.
U.S. President Donald Trump is being slammed for what he didn't say about the violence in Virginia. Mr. Trump condemned the hatred and bigotry but he failed to denounce white nationalism by name.
A neo-Nazi Web site even celebrated the President's remark as quote, "really good". Since then the White House said of course, the President' condemnation included white supremacists, the KKK and neo- Nazis. And state-run media in Burkina Faso say attackers barricaded themselves in a cafe in the capital on Sunday. At least 17 people were killed, eight are wounded. A security perimeter has been set up and the route leading to the international airport is closed.
It's now been seven decades since India won its independence from the British empire. Power was handed over and the new country of Pakistan was created as well. But the partition of India also led to a massive deadly migration and a legacy of hostility between the two countries that remains to this day.
[00:30:07] More now from CNN's Mallika Kapur.
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're neighbors with a shared history but a fractured present. Seventy years ago this week, British rulers sliced a giant Indian Empire into two new countries: a new Hindu-majority India and Pakistan, home to mostly Muslims.
From the 18th century through independence, the British Empire in India stretched from Afghanistan in the West to Burma in the east. By the 1940s, anti-colonial sentiment swelled in many British colonies around the world, including India.
Demands for India's independence grew, led by freedom fighters. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Jawaharlal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah favored a separate state for India's Muslim minorities.
India was burning; communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims spiraled out of control. Calls to end British rule were reaching boiling point.
On the back of a costly Second World War, Britain lacked the will and the means to defeat the independence movement. Britain decided to quit India. In March 1947, naval officer Lord Mountbatten was appointed the Viceroy of India to oversee the handover of power.
He assigned British lawyer Cyril Ratcliff to draw the partition line. In just six weeks, he finalized a plan to divide India along religious lines. There would be a new India, a secular India, though it's where the Hindu majority would live and a separate country called Pakistan for Muslims.
On midnight of August 14, 1947, the British Empire officially transferred power to India and Pakistan. After nearly two centuries of colonial rule, India became a sovereign nation and Pakistan was born.
Jinnah became head of the newly formed Pakistan; Nehru became the first prime minister of India.
JAWAHARLAL NEHRU, FIRST PRIME MINISTER OF INDEPENDENT INDIA: At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake united in freedom. KAPUR (voice-over): The partition saw one of the largest human migrations the world has ever seen. Millions of Hindus and Sikhs living in Pakistan headed to India; millions of Muslims migrated to Pakistan in trains, in mullis (ph), on foot.
In a matter of months, at least 10 million people moved across the borders. At least 1 million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs died in communal attacks as they crossed the border. Tens of thousands of women and girls were abducted and raped. Families were divided.
Twenty-four years later in 1971, the east wing of Pakistan split away to become a separate country called Bangladesh. The west side remained as present-day Pakistan.
India and Pakistan have fought four wars since 1947, mostly fueled by disputes over the northern mammalian (ph) state of Jammu and Kashmir. Both countries claim it in its entirety but only control part of it.
Though both sides have attempted to restore peace many times, they remain hostile, nuclear-armed neighbors even today -- Mallika Kapur, CNN, Amritsar, India.
VANIER: We're joined now by Mallika Kapur in Amritsar, India, who made that report and Sophia Safi in Lahore, Pakistan.
Let's first find out how the anniversary of the partition and independence is celebrated in both countries.
And, Mallika, in India, to you first.
KAPUR: Well, in India, Independence Day is actually -- we celebrate here in India tomorrow on the 15th -- is a national holiday and it's a day marked with great patriotic fervor. There are flag-hoisting ceremonies across the country. There's a big colorful parade in New Delhi; people gather to sing the national anthem.
And the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, will address the nation tomorrow. So it is a day of celebration Independence Day.
But this year, interestingly, because we are marking such an important milestone -- 70 years -- that the conversation for the first time has really turned to partition. For so many decades it's a topic that has not been discussed.
But this time around, people are talking about their painful memories of 1947, survivors are talking about what happened to them; families, people who lost family members during the partition are talking about that.
There have been conferences, exhibitions, panel discussions about partition this year. And the country's first Partition Museum is opening here in Amritsar --
[00:35:00] KAPUR: -- later this week.
VANIER: Sophia in Pakistan.
SOPHIA SAFI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Cyril, it's equally patriotic in here and Lahore as well. I'm in Bigbakliz (ph), where the idea of Pakistan originated back in 1940. We're celebrating our independence today on the 14th of August. And the skies behind me at midnight were completely lit up by fireworks.
There's going to be a flag-hoisting ceremony in the capital; we have foreign dignitaries visiting from China, from Saudi Arabia and from Turkey. And there are going to be big airshows by the Pakistan Air Force in the city of Karachi and in the skies of Islamabad.
And equally, as Mallika said, there has been a reopening of old wounds. And a lot of people are actually discussing what has happened, what was the bloody legacy of partition. and there's a lot of reconciliation of those memories today here in Pakistan -- Cyril.
VANIER: I was going to ask you, Sophia, how you would characterize, at this moment in time, India-Pakistan relations; 70 years after they separated in such a bloody way.
SAFI: Cyril, this was a land that has been united and (INAUDIBLE) for centuries. The subcontinent of India and over here, we've -- there's -- there are people who share a culture. They share languages. There is this division of religion in their two separate countries.
But yes, there have been four wars with India and Pakistan. Currently as has been said often, there is an all-time low in diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan.
But the unity that exists in cultural relations between the two countries, between the people of Pakistan, still exists. And there is always this need and this desire for the two people to reach out and have some sort of dialogue.
But at the moment, diplomatically, there are quite bad relations with India and Pakistan, with Pakistan and India, especially considering the recent skirmishes along the line of control on the border with the two countries.
VANIER: Sophia Safi, Mallika Kapur, thank you so much to both of you.
And we'll be right back with more right after the break.
VANIER: In India, growing outrage after the death of dozens of children at a government hospital. Reports say more than 60 children, including 34 infants, died over six days of the hospital in Northern India, partly because of a lack of oxygen on the children's ward.
The reports say that the oxygen shortage happened after the suppliers' bills were not paid. Local officials say there was a disruption of oxygen but they insist the deaths were caused by encephalitis and other health issues.
The head of the hospital reportedly has been suspended and an investigation is now underway.
Three aid groups are suspending operations to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Doctors without Borders, Save the Children and CI --
VANIER: -- say the Libyan government has made it too dangerous. Libya says it is asserting control over its waters and that it will carry out its own rescues. But activists warned that more migrants could die at sea as a result.
Charity groups have picked up more than a third of migrants rescued this year.
Seven Syrian rescuers killed in an attack have been buried now in an emotional funeral. The White Helmets say unidentified gunmen stormed the office of the volunteers on Saturday and shot them dead.
It happened in Idlib, which is one of the last provinces the Syrian government does not control. Meanwhile, Syria says it's making progress in recapturing areas controlled by ISIS. Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen has more from one of the front lines of the battle against the terror group.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): An assault on ISIS in the Eastern Syrian Desert. The Syrian government says it has drastically stepped up its offensive against the terror group on various fronts.
It recently released this video, showing their gains on the battlefield. Syria's military give us access to one of those front lines, where ISIS, too, is increasing the pressure, the local commander says.
"You feel that the fighters of ISIS are brainwashed," he says. "They're coming here to die. They're fearless. They fight until the end."
ISIS is attacking this area because it's near a strategic road and a pipeline. But also the Syrian army believes, because the group is losing so much territory in other parts of Syria and in Iraq.
PLEITGEN: As ISIS gets squeezed out of its urban strongholds like Raqqa, more and more of its fighters are coming down into this region. And the men we're with say they have had to deal with a lot more ISIS attacks than before.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): And sometimes those attacks amount to massacres. ISIS fighters invaded the village Akareb in May, killing more than 50 civilians, according to Syrian government media.
Nine-year-old Mudara (ph) says he was forced to watch his mother, brother and two sisters get executed by the militants, only barely surviving himself.
"I acted like I was dead," he says. "They started stepping on me but I didn't move at all."
The massacre in Akareb has fueled hatred towards ISIS among Syrian government troops vowing to rout the terror group at any cost.
"I am ready to fight day and night against ISIS," this fighter says. "We've decided already that ISIS will not get out of this area."
And the commander adds, "Getting rid of ISIS is only a question of time because Syrian army has decided to defeat them totally in this area. We tasted their massacres like the one in Akareb."
Both attacking and defending against ISIS are difficult in this desert area. Still, the Syrian army and its Russian backers say ousting the terror group from the southeast of the country is now their main priority and they hope to accomplish that task in the coming months -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Akareb, Syria.
VANIER: And thank you for watching. I'm Cyril Vanier in Atlanta. "WORLD SPORT" is up next and we're back at the top of the hour for more world news. Stay with us.