Return to Transcripts main page

HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Trump and Kim Arrive in Vietnam For Second Summit; Cohen Testifies Privately before Senate Intelligence Committee; Theresa May Proposes Votes on No Deal and Delay; Cardinal George Pell Convicted of Child Sex Abuse; Vatican Held Sex Abuse Conference Earlier This Month. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 26, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN Center in Atlanta, I am Paula Newton in for Hala Gorani.

Tonight, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un get set for those high-stake talks in Vietnam. Backing down on Brexit, Britain's prime minister offers lawmakers

a chance to delay the UK's exit from the EU. And 36 hours with the Taliban. CNN gets rare and exclusive access to the fighters in

Afghanistan.

The stage is now set, the players are in place. U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are both in Vietnam at this hour

for their second summit. Mr. Trump arrived by plane after a day long flight from Washington. Kim

arrived on a special armored train after a two-and-a-half-day trip. The big question not where they came from but where all of this is headed.

Paula Hancocks is part of a team, a very large team covering this summit. She joins us now. We have to say you've been covering these issues for

quite a few years as they continue to make headlines. This is, as we've said, the second summit. What are the expectations going forward as a lot

of people have said that expectations have lowered and perhaps the timetable is a bit different than what would have been envisioned a few

months ago?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We did have a few interesting comments from the United States President Donald Trump before

he left to come here to Hanoi. He did say that time was not of the essence, effectively saying that he is not in any rush trying to secure a

denuclearization deal. That did raise eyebrows that time is of the essence. Obviously not for Kim Jong un the North Korean leader is

expecting to be the North Korean leader for life.

When it comes to the U.S. President there's time limit on the amount of time he can serve. So clearly there were hopes and he had said in the past

that he would like to secure denuclearization within his first term. So that is before 2020.

What we're hearing from the President is time doesn't really matter. He's in no rush. And that also as long as North Korea is not testing missiles

and not carrying out nuclear tests. Then he is happy. That was of some concern to officials and to critics of the President in his previous summit

with Kim Jong un because clearly that was a vaguely worded statement that came out in Singapore last year. There are definitely hopes that they will

be something more concrete, more tangible this time around.

Certainly, something more than just a moratorium on testing.

NEWTON: The moratorium and testing being one issue and a lot of people as you have said raised eyebrows thinking a freeze is enough. It's made the

United States and the world safer. When we get down to what happened at the summit, North Korea wants to alleviate the sanctions. The United

States wants something concrete to show for denuclearization. Is there any sense that the parties are getting closer? I know in his interview with

our Jake Tapper here on CNN, Secretary of State Pompeo said he didn't want to get ahead of the news but he seemed to have something that he would be

able to offer at the end of the summit.

HANCOCKS: What we have been hearing from the U.S. side, from Stephen Biegun the U.S. Special Representative to North Korea. And the South

Korean Blue House is there potentially what could be offered to North Korea is the end of Korean War. This declaration which is symbolic. It's

political but ending the Korean War that ended in armistice in 1953. It's something that North Korea wants. It's something many in the region want.

What does North Korea give in return for that? There hopes that they would say in a concrete way and write down in a very detailed fashion the fact

that they would invite inspectors into the country.

Potentially to look at the nuclear test site which they say has been disabled but there has been no independent verification of that. The same

at the missile watching site. Will North Korea put the facility on the table? We heard through South Korea and the South Korean President Moon

Jae-In that this is something that North Korea is willing to put on the table if there are corresponding measures from the United States. But as

you say, Paula, the one thing North Korea wants more than anything else is to alleviate sanctions and it's something Washington up until this point

said they are not willing to do until there is full denuclearization.

[14:05:15] Of course, one way around that is to potentially give the green light or ask South Korea to raise -- to lift some of its unilateral

sanctions to be able to give North Korea some of the hard cash that it needs.

NEWTON: A lot to chew over there. It's interesting and just the compact meetings what they'll be able to come up with, they've been discussing it

and we'll see what they can get done. Paula Hancocks will continue to cover the story for us the next few days. Really appreciate it.

As Paula was saying, a lot at stake there at Hanoi. I'll call it the continental split screen of news. There are major headlines to be had in

Washington with Donald Trump and that all-important Russian inquiry. Donald Trump's former attorney and fixer, at the same time he is spilling

new information with U.S. senators today in what will be a very public meeting tomorrow. Michael Cohen is back on Capitol Hill for three days of

hearings with lawmakers. Sources say Cohen testifying about Mr. Trump's role in some of the crimes Cohen pleaded guilty to last year. Again,

implicating the President in the crimes he's already been convicted of. Kara joins us from Washington. You have to say Donald truing Trump Junior

was here saying he's a liar. I ask you, what is going to be different that the Congressional hearings hope to learn given this man has already been

before them and has lied about it? Will he have evidence? Do we know anything about that?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, it's a very fair question. Michael Cohen has admitted now he has lied to these committees and, in fact, about

4 1/2 hours into his testimony before the Senate intelligence committee, that very committee he lied to, and one of the senators told one of our

colleagues on Capitol Hill that Cohen has spent a decent amount of time explaining why he lied to them the last time. You know, but the issue here

now is what will Michael Cohen have that advances this. And sources tell us that he has prepared to discuss the role that the President has played

in the crimes that Michael Cohen has committed and admitted to committing last year. One of the big ones are the hush money payments to Stormy

Daniels and Karen McDougal, two women who allege having an affair with Donald Trump. Michael Cohen has already said when he pleaded guilty in the

fall that he did this and facilitated these payments to the women in coordination with and at the direction of the President. So, the big

question today will be what more will he tell us either behind closed doors to the Congressmen and senators, or what does he tell the public about

this? He could provide a fly on the wall sort of testimony, setting the scene of what the President directed him to do. The big question is what

else is there to support it. That goes beyond this. This is something Cohen pled guilty to and prosecutors have acknowledged in their own

filings. To anything else Michael Cohen might say the President was involved in or business practices tells us something he was doing while he

was campaigning, will Michael Cohen have anything independent to back that up. We are told he will have some documents with him. It's not clear how

relevant they are, how they are going to be valued or viewed. But this open forum is actually very fascinating, though, because everyone can judge

Michael Cohen on his performance there. You're going to have the Democrats pushing him, looking for evidence. You'll also have some Republicans

trying to -- certainly the ones that are allied with the President trying to knock this down and make Cohen out as a liar. It will be the first time

we've seen anyone caught up in the Russia investigation, especially someone who pleaded guilty, testifying to questions. There will be debate and

discussion around this. If anything, anyone can evaluate Michael Cohen at the end of the day and see if he's just doing this with some vendetta.

It's really unique situation and at this moment and time to hear from someone who is in the midst of this investigation and who has admitted to

pleading guilty to crimes to it.

NEWTON: Unique is one way to put it. The President will be riveted. As he is in Hanoi, we can't keep him from staying up and watching this

testimony. Thanks so much.

Now we turn to more news on Brexit. I know you've heard it over and over again for two years now. Theresa May has made it very clear that Britain

is leaving the European Union on March 29th. That is, until today. In a dramatic day in Parliament, she shifted course for the first time saying

that the government is considering options to actually delay Brexit. Now, it's part of a number of votes being laid down. Here's how Theresa May

announced that to Parliament. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, UK PRIME MINISTER: If the House having rejected leaving with the deal negotiated with the EU, then rejects leaving on the 29th of march

without withdrawal agreement and future framework, the government will on the 14th of march bring forward a motion on whether Parliament wants to

seek a short, limited extension to article 15. And if the House votes for a future framework, the government will on the 14th of March bring forward

a motion on whether Parliament wants to seek a short, limited extension to article 15. And if the House votes for an extension, seek to agree to that

extension in the House with the EU and votes to change the exit date commensurate with that extension.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:10:00] NEWTON: OK, you heard her there, change the exit date. It is important that we break this down. We want to go through exactly what is

going to happen through these Brexit votes. Now, Theresa May says she will hold a vote on her deal by March 12th. If that passes, again, unlikely,

Britain leaves the EU with May's deal. If it doesn't, we move on to the next vote. That's whether Britain should leave with no deal. If that

passes, Britain, as I said, crashes out without a deal. If it doesn't, we move on to the final vote on the next day. This one is the vote on whether

to delay Brexit. Yes, something Theresa May has not wanted to talk about before. If that doesn't go through, Brexit -- sorry. If that does go

through, Brexit is delayed. If it doesn't -- all right. See that question mark right there, we need to answer that question and Bianca Nobilo is

outside the Houses of Parliament. Erin McLaughlin is in her perch as well in Brussels. I am going to start with Bianca here because it is important,

we go through these votes and what they actually mean and what happened today.

Theresa May for so long, Bianca, has said no extension, no extension, no extension. It's my deal or no deal, we crash out. Today we heard

something very different. It sounds very momentous. Tell us why it is important.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even yesterday, Paula, the Prime Minister ruled out the idea of an extension so it is a really big step

towards the government accepting this idea of a delay and an extension. The reason why that is so significant is because the 29th of March is

tentative in this entire process. It is a date the Brexiters had enshrined in law. That was a difficult process in itself. It is something Theresa

May articulated she thinks it is important to respect, to deliver on the will of the people. That has been her rhetoric. And aside from that,

Paula, it's the fact that the government has maintained its key negotiating card, is the fact that it could threaten to walk away without a deal and

all of the economic chaos that would ensue. And, yes, it would harm Britain in a concentrated fashion than it would harm the EU but the

government maintained that was their strongest negotiating ploy. By accepting the idea of an extension, she is striking into the heart of

Brexiters and those who campaigned hard for this cause, she is also removing one of the key methods of negotiation as far as the British

government is concerned. So, it's a big step. Many people breathing a sigh of relief at least that cliff edge on the 29th of March looks nearly

impossible now. We know there is a majority in the House of Commons to avoid no deal at all costs.

NEWTON: Anything possible now. We get to the issue of extension. We go want to go back to what happens next. If MPs vote down May's deal. The

first vote is done. If they vote a no deal, we're dealing with an extension. Is that a fait accompli, is there something where they can vote

out everything and you're still at a crash on the 29th?

NOBILO: That is a question mark which remains. If Theresa May's deal is rejected, they will vote on the possibility of a no deal. They had the

opportunity previously to express whether it would support a no deal. It voted overwhelmingly at every opportunity it had. We would assume -- the

next vote would be whether or not to ask the EU for an extension. That is important to remember. This isn't the British House of Commons voting to

extend the negotiation period and that's a fait accompli. They have to get that approval from the EU but if that vote doesn't succeed, then we're in

this legislative default of crashing out of the EU without a deal because currently the 29th of march is what's enshrined in law and technically it

would require another statute being passed by Parliament in order to change that. However, the Prime Minister did state to when she was addressing

Parliament that she would need the Houses of Parliament to actually sign off on the prospect of a no deal. So that does leave that question of what

would happen if all of those scenarios are rejected, still fairly murky.

[14:15:08] NEWTON: OK, stay with us. I know we have a lot we're chewing through. The bottom line is a lot has changed today and Europe has been on

the side lines just watching it all happen quite frankly. Erin McLaughlin is there for us from Brussels. I don't know if we can hand you a box of

Kleenex to the officials waiting for this. Did you get the exhale from Brussels thinking, OK, it's still confusing but at least we might have some

breathing room here?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, LONDON BUREAU: Well, I think there is more frustration being felt here more than anything, Paula.

We heard from the President of the European council earlier this week call an extension a rational solution to the current situation given that the

clock is ticking. I'm told by one EU official here in Brussels while there has been informal talk about the prospects of a potential extension, they

have yet to address this formally at the level of the 27 member states. And when they do, the leaders will essentially have three questions. The

first being how long is the extension requested, the reason for the extension, and, of course, the effect that could have on EU institutions,

namely, Parliament, Parliamentary elections are in May. But right now, here in Brussels, also, the focus is on what one diplomat calls the easy

solution, this gets through Westminster when it goes to vote in mid-March. Currently the British Attorney General has arrived here in Brussels to meet

with negotiators, the commission behind me. They are talking about a possible solution to that northern Irish backstop impasse. If they are

able to reach some sort of solution that is amenable to the Attorney General that he could change his advice, that could potentially change the

dynamic there in Westminster in favor of a deal which, as I said, is seen at this point here in Brussels as the, quote, easy option in all this. But

it must be said there is growing pessimism among diplomats and officials that I've been talking to that that's achievable at this point.

NEWTON: It's interesting. The only thing that has been a constant through this entire process there will be any solution any time soon. Erin

McLaughlin in Brussels. Thank you to you both as we continue to follow this saga.

Still to come tonight, one of the most important figures in the Catholic Church, the Vatican Treasurer, is now a convicted pedophile. When we come

back, a conversation with a former priest who has made it his mission to track sex abuse inside the Church. Plus, we go deep into the heart of

Taliban territory for an exclusive look at what few outsiders get to see. That's ahead.

[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: One of the most powerful men in the Vatican is now a convicted pedophile. Cardinal George Pell was found guilty of multiple charges by

jury in Australia back in December. Now, the delay in reporting is due to legal restrictions that have just now been lifted. CNN's Anna Coren

explains.

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No emotion on the face of Australia's top Catholic as he leaves court a convicted pedophile. A

judge's suppression order to protect a second trial now have just now been dismissed gave Cardinal George Pell time to come to terms with the guilty

verdict delivered by a jury back in December. On Tuesday, the world was told.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news to bring you one of the Vatican's most senior officials has been found guilty of child sex abuse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: The Vatican Treasurer was brought down by the testimony of one man. Who says he was sexually abused by Pell in 1996. Months after he was made

Archbishop of Melbourne, he doesn't want to be known but his lawyer read out a statement on his behalf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIVIAN WALLER, ATTORNEY FOR ABUSE SURVIVOR: Like many survivors, I have experienced shame, loneliness, depression and struggled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: His childhood friend who Pell was also convicted of abusing died five years ago. Drug overdose, ending a life shattered by childhood

trauma.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLER: Today's conviction won't bring their son back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Pell maintains his innocence and has lodged an appeal. But as the highest-ranking member of the Catholic Church convicted of sexually abusing

children, his fall will have reverberations all the way to the Vatican.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MARR, AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST, "GUARDIAN": It's kind of breath taking that somebody could climb so high and fall so low.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: But it was not only his piety that rocketed Cardinal Pell up the Church's hierarchy. In 1996, Pell created the Melbourne response after a

tidal wave of reports of sexual abuse. He offered a general apology and put a cap at 50,000 Australian dollars saving the Catholic Church an untold

amount of money. Among them were victims of Australia's worst pedophile, Father Gerald Ridsdale who lived with Pell in

1973. And has since pleaded guilty to sexually abusing more than 60 children. Paul Levy was one of his victims. He was forced to live with

him for eight months and was abused every single day. He also believes Pell knew what was happening to him and did nothing, a claim Pell denies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL LEVY, SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM: That's a man that's had his head locked on being the Pope, I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: In the morning George Pell will walk through these doors at Melbourne County Court and that is expected to be the least time we see him

as a freeman. He'll be remanded into custody and taken to prison where he will wait to learn his sentence. For now, the survivors of clerical sexual

abuse take comfort knowing that even the most important men in the Vatican are not immune from justice. Anna Coren, CNN, Melbourne.

NEWTON: The Vatican says the conviction of Cardinal Pell is painful and shocking. And while noting that the Cardinal has the right to appeal his

conviction, the Vatican statement says Cardinal Pell is prohibited the public exercise of ministry and in accordance with the norms any form of

contact with minors. Joining me now is Patrick Wall, he's a former Catholic priest who left the college ill and is now one of the world's

leading experts on priest sexual abuse.

You know, Patrick, I have to tell you, reading the details of this case was absolutely chilling. You know, you're a person who researches this,

researches the predator mentality that has occurred in the Church, the Catholic Church, on virtually every continent. You know, the impunity

granted these pedophiles, these criminals have been absolutely stunning. Do you believe that things will change now, that they are changing?

[14:25:00] PATRICK WALL, FORMER CATHOLIC PRIEST: Well, fundamentally they're changing because the tenacity and incredible power of survivors

coming forward proves that if they stay patient and tenacious that the system can change, that prosecutors can be successful, and that there are

many prosecutors around the world now are hearing this tectonic change of Thor's Hammer coming down that you can get a conviction, that sends a

message.

NEWTON: And the message it sends is important, and yet we had, certainly at the Vatican this weekend, what will -- what was a high-profile meeting

that was supposed to give a measure of comfort and, in fact, accountability for those survivors, for those victims. Do you think it did that just in

terms of looking at the message from the Pope and what came out of that?

WALL: Well, the Pope made no decisions on the multiple bishops around the world, not just Cardinal Pell, the multiple bishops around the world who

have sexually assaulted minors. And yet, Francis cannot make a decision. He wants to get a guidebook. He wants to have another set of meetings. He

wants to set up another set of protocols. Those are all words. There's no action. You know, there has been centuries of procedure, you know, the

code of canon law is powerful. He can move to remove these bishops and get them out of power. But I tell you what, kudos and -- to the people of

Australia. Thank you. Because between the royal commission and the criminal prosecutors, we finally do have action. That's what needs to

happen. There needs to be a worldwide meeting so that prosecutors get together, share information, use all the documents that are available, use

artificial intelligence to its fullest capability, and prosecute these crimes.

NEWTON: And yet there's no real indication that that is what the Vatican wants in terms of having that accountability full score globally. What do

you think it will take? I mean, you've been in there in terms of research. You've seen the culture of cover up within the Church, both at the lower

levels and at the highest levels. What will it take to get that to happen?

WALL: They're going to have to continue -- prosecutors are going to have to continue on the outside, not on the inside of the Church, to bring these

cases and put these guys behind bars. Treat them so that they're not above the law. You know, Cardinal Pell, even with his oxford historical

training, still believed he was above the law. They really felt until the very end they were going to beat this conviction. Even with the best

lawyers in Australia, the facts, the tenacity of survivors, that's what's going to do this. With worldwide communications now, if survivors rise up

and prosecutors now have the confidence that they're going to get convictions, bishops themselves are going to go to jail.

NEWTON: You know, you were a priest. Take us inside the people that are going to congregation right now. You know, I would wager that the Vatican

is completely out of step with the kind of accountability that Catholics themselves want.

WALL: The average Catholic believes and knows we should follow the 10 commandments. We should follow the golden rule, and we don't need books

and books and layers and layers of procedure. This really is a simple thing. This is a lack of moral courage in the leadership at the highest

levels of the hierarchy. You know, Richard Sykes said 30 years ago, god bless his soul, that this, if we follow this all the way through and we

research this properly, it takes us to the halls of the holy see, and that's where we're at finally now. It's taken 30 years. Hopefully in the

next 30 years we'll be able to prosecute the cases and the people in the pew will feel safe. They will be able to again trust their priest. Again,

the priest will be able to be shepherd. Right now, we still have a lot of wolves in sheep's clothing that are pretending to be clerics, and that's

what needs to be rooted out. And that way people can get on with their spiritual life. That's what religion is about, to be able to live a

spiritual life with peace and safety. That's what prosecutors need to step up now around the world and make this happen.

NEWTON: The criminal justice systems need to step up where the Vatican has not. Patrick, thank you for your insights on what continues to be a very

important story.

Now, still to come tonight, a CNN exclusive, we travel to a place few western journalists have ever gone. This is right inside Taliban territory

in Afghanistan.

Also, ahead, the latest on the alarming escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan. What both countries are saying about an Indian

airstrike in the Pakistan territory.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:17] PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, few outsiders have gone behind Taliban lines in Afghanistan. But as U.S.-

Taliban peace talks signal a possible end to America's longest war, the group granted our Clarissa Ward rare and very exclusive access inside their

world. A warning, some of what you will now see and hear may be disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what the Taliban wants you to know. Their moment is coming and they are

ready for victory.

This is a world you have probably never seen up close. And we are some of the only western journalists to enter it.

America's enemy in Afghanistan is best known for harboring Osama bin Laden as he planned the 9/11 attacks, for its brutal repression of women and for

meeting out harsh justice under a draconian interpretation of Islamic Sharia law.

We want to find out who the Taliban is today and if after 17 years of war with the U.S., their Islamic emirate has changed.

Our journey begins in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The Taliban was forced to withdraw from here after a bitter battle in 2001. Now, they are

just a few miles away.

WARD (on camera): We're heading out now to meet up with our Taliban escorts. And as you can see, I'm wearing the full facial veil known was

the niqab. I'm wearing it to keep as low profile as is possible because there are no western journalists in the areas we're headed to.

WARD (voice over): The government controls the highway out of the city, but once you turn off the main road, you are quickly in Taliban territory.

To reach our host, we have to cross a small river on a ferry. Billions of U.S. dollars have been poured in to building up Afghanistan's

infrastructure. But little of that has trickled down here.

WARD (on camera): That's our escort just there on the other side of the river.

WARD (voice over): After months of negotiations, the Taliban leadership has agreed to give Afghan filmmaker, Najibullah Quraishi, myself, and

producer, Salma Abdelaziz, extremely rare access into the group's territory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Salamu alaykum.

WARD (voice-over): As women we are ignored, seemingly invisible beneath the full veil that is mandatory in public.

The Taliban has allowed us to visit these areas because it wants to show that it is in control. But in our first moments --

WARD (on camera): Whoa, that's a lot of helicopters. One, two, three, four, five.

WARD (voice over): Our escorts tell us to stop. We are now on the other side of America's war. In recent months, the U.S. has dramatically stepped

up the number of airstrikes on the Taliban.

The militants' flag makes us a conspicuous target. But we have no choice but to push on.

Our first stop is a clinic that has been run by the Taliban since they took control of this area almost two years ago. A plaque at the door reveals it

was a gift from the Americans in 2006.

Suddenly, a young girl outside is hit by a motorcycle. A boy rushes over to help her. The driver is a Taliban fighter. He slings his gun over his

shoulder and wanders over, apparently unconcerned.

[14:35:24] Life here is brutal. The girl is rushed inside, her frantic mother following behind.

WARD (on camera): Is she OK? Is she OK? Are you OK?

WARD (voice over): But no one seems as shocked as we are. The doctor gives her mother some painkillers and sends her away. After years of

fighting here, he has seen much worse.

WARD (on camera): Who's in charge of the hospital? Who's managing it?

WARD (voice over): He explained that the Taliban manages the clinic, but the government pays salaries and provides medicine. This sort of ad hoc

cooperation is becoming more and more common, and there have been other changes.

WARD (on camera): So this is something you wouldn't expect to see in a clinic under control of the Taliban. It looks like some kind of sexual

health education. Talking about condoms, other forms of birth control.

WARD (voice over): 22-year-old midwife Fazela (ph) has worked under the Taliban and the Afghan government.

WARD (on camera): What has been your experience working under the Taliban here?

WARD (voice over): "The Taliban never interfere in our work as women", she says. "They never block us from coming to the clinic."

In the waiting area, these women say it's war and poverty that makes their lives miserable.

WARD (on camera): Has life under the Taliban changed now from what it was before? No?

WARD (voice over): "We are trapped in the middle," the woman says, "and we can't do anything."

WARD (on camera): It's just so sad to see how desperate people are here. The women telling me they don't have enough food to eat. They don't have

the proper medicines to treat their disabled children. All they want is peace and some improvement to their quality of life.

WARD (voice over): It's getting late and we need to get to our accommodation. The Taliban turn off cell phone service after dark. This

is when we are most vulnerable.

WARD (on-camera): Salamu alaykum

WARD (voice-over): The next morning we're taken to a madrasa or a religious school. Under Taliban rule in the 90s, girls were banned from

going to school. But we find boys and girls studying.

WARD (on-camera): Raise your hand if you know how to read.

OK. One, two, three. You can read and write.

Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? A doctor? Bravo.

What's your favorite subject in school? Math. You're smart.

WARD (voice over): Teacher Yahar Mohammad (ph) splits his time between the front lines and the classroom. His AK-47 never leaves his side.

"The emirate has instructed education departments to allow education for girls of religious studies, modern studies, science and math," he says, but

there's a catch. Once they reach puberty, girls cannot go to school with boys. And the sad reality is that few in rural areas like this see women's

education as a priority. The Taliban's focus now is on showing it can govern effectively.

Across the country, the group has appointed shadow governors, like Mawlavi Khaksar. For his security, Khaksar is always on the move.

When the villagers hear that he is visiting, they quickly line up to air their issues. There are disputes over money and landownership.

"Your petition will be dealt with tomorrow," Khaksar says.

Corruption is rampant in the Afghan government. The Taliban has a reputation for delivering quick, if harsh, justice.

"The Islamic emirate has laws," this man says. "It has an Islamic Sharia system in place."

Khaksar agrees to sit down with us. His bodyguard listens for security updates on the radio. But we start out by asking about the Taliban's

brutal tactics and the U.S. concern that they could once again offer safe haven to terrorists.

[14:40:02] MAWLAVI KHAKSAR, TALIBAN SHADOW GOVERNOR (through translator): Whether it's the Americans or ISIS, no foreign forces will be allowed in

the country once we start ruling Afghanistan.

WARD (on camera): Are there real efforts being made to stop killing civilians?

KHAKSAR: Those responsible for civilian casualties are the ones who came with the aircrafts, artillery, B-52 and heavy weaponry.

WARD (voice-over): In reality, the Taliban is responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in the last three years alone.

WARD (on camera): And what about these suicide bombings at polling stations, for example? These kill many civilians.

KHAKSAR (through translator): We deny this. This accusation is not acceptable to us.

WARD (voice-over): There are small signs that the Taliban is moving with the times.

KHAKSAR (through translator): I listen to the radio. Also Facebook and other media.

WARD (on camera): You're on Facebook?

KHAKSAR: Yes.

WARD (voice-over): But it's clear that the fundamental ideology has not changed.

WARD (on camera): So if somebody is found guilty of stealing, you cut off their hand?

KHAKSAR (through translator): Yes. We implement the Sharia. We follow Sharia instruction.

WARD: And if somebody is found guilty of adultery, you will stone them to death?

KHAKSAR: Yes. The Sharia allows stoning to death.

WARD (voice-over): As we're leaving the interview, the military commander for the district arrives and a dispute breaks out about us.

"They should have brought a man," one of them says.

WARD (on camera): So the issue right now is that they don't want us to walk outside with the government because I'm a woman. They think it's

inappropriate.

WARD (voice-over): We agree to follow the men at a distance, something I've never had to do in my career.

The commander, Mubariz Mujahid, takes us to a nearby safe house to be interviewed privately. We are warned that political questions are off the

table.

WARD (on camera): Do you want to see peace between the Taliban and America?

MUBARIZ MUJAHID, TALIBAN MILITARY COMMANDER (through translator): It would be better if this question was put to the spokesperson of the Islamic

emirate.

WARD: Do you feel like the Taliban is winning the war?

MUJAHID: God willing, we are hopeful. We are supported by God.

WARD (voice-over): He wants to show off his forces for our cameras. His men are gathering just outside the village.

It is exceptionally rare and dangerous for dozens of fighters to congregate in one place.

WARD (on camera): I have been coming to Afghanistan for more than 10 years. I never imagined that I would be reporting from here in the heart

of Taliban territory, but we're not going to stay long here because gatherings like this can be a major target for airstrikes.

WARD (voice-over): But the commander says America's military might can't keep them from victory.

MUJAHID (through translator): We are ready for any sacrifice. We are not scared of being hit. This is our holy path. We continue our jihad.

WARD (voice-over): Most of these men have been fighting U.S. forces since they were old enough to carry a gun. The question now is, are they ready

to put those guns down?

Our visit with the Taliban is coming to a close. It's time to leave.

For a large part of Afghanistan, the prospect of a Taliban resurgence remains horrifying. But for many here, it makes little difference who is

in charge. After decades of war and hardship, they'll turn to anyone who promises peace.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Clarissa Ward joins us now from New York. You can't overstate really the courage that it took you and our producer, Salma Abdelaziz, to

go there and do this story.

I mean, why do you think the Taliban wanted you there? They clearly wanted you there. And why do you believe at this point in time with the

Afghanistan story that it was worth the risk?

WARD: Well, Paula, I think for the first time possibly ever, the Taliban is now taking an interest in its public image. I'm not sure that they

wanted us there, but they certainly tolerated us there, and that is significant progress in a sense.

They don't want to show that they've fundamentally changed. And ideologically, they certainly haven't changed, but I think what they do

want to put out there is this idea that they can be pragmatic, that they can cooperate with other parties, that they can run institutions with the

Afghan government, that they can sit down at the negotiating table with the U.S. And that they can effectively govern areas under their control and

provide people with everyday services.

[14:45:01] The real question becomes, Paula, is this a genuine thing or is this simply them realizing that it's politically expedient in this moment

with victory, as they would see it, within reaching distance for them to put on an act, so to speak? And the real test of time, of course, will be

when we see if see it, within reaching distance for them to put on an act, so to speak?

And the real test of time, of course, will be when we see if U.S. troops do indeed withdraw, what -- in what ways the Taliban starts to behave at that

point?

And I think as to the second part of your question as to why we wanted to do it and take these risks, the U.S. has poured more than a trillion

dollars into this war, more than 2,300 U.S. military personnel killed, 17 years of war.

Americans deserve right now to know exactly what is going on and to debate among themselves whether this looks like victory, whether this looks like

loss, whether the U.S. continues to have a responsibility to the people of Afghanistan, and what the fallout will be in that country when U.S. troops

do indeed withdraw, Paula.

NEWTON: Clarissa, I have to let you go. But I have to ask you, it's been several years since I've been to Afghanistan. One of the most shocking

things I saw from your report is how little has changed. When you actually got a glimpse into the lives of, you know, those Pakistanis -- pardon me,

Afghanis. Do you really believe that they believe that peace will lead to a better life for them?

WARD: It's the only hope they have, Paula. They've lived under the Russians, they've lived under American occupation. They've lived under the

Afghan army. They've lived under the Taliban. They haven't seen any improvement in during any of those iterations.

Their best hope now is that peace could possibly bring some changes. They're not looking for radical reform. The people in the areas that we

were in were not as much interested in women's education as they are in having food to put on the table, having medicine to give to their children,

and having some degree of normalcy that allows them to have a daily life.

NEWTON: Clarissa, I can't thank you enough for such an important, especially as we continue to cover those peace talks. Thank you, Clarissa

Ward there from New York.

Still to come tonight, Pakistan is vowing retaliation after Indian airstrikes in Pakistani-controlled territory as hostility rises between the

two nuclear powers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: Now, to a major escalation of tensions between two nuclear armed powers. India has launched airstrikes across the de facto border in

Kashmir and into Pakistani-controlled territory.

Now, India says the strike hit a terrorist training camp. The Pakistan called that a fictitious claim saying that jet's actually struck inside

Pakistani territory, although no one was killed.

Now, this follows an attack on Indian soldiers in Kashmir earlier this month, which killed 40 people.

Pakistan has warned it is now preparing its own response. We want to discuss all this with our senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley who

is in Abu Dhabi.

And, you know, this is a conflict that goes back many, many years and there's a lot at stake now. Sam, in terms of escalation, what is the

danger going forward?

[14:50:08] SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the ultimate danger here is nuclear war. This is something that certainly

since the late 1990s, when both India and Pakistan declared that they had nuclear capability, nobody is quite sure exactly what that capability is.

But both sides have proven that they've got it, that any kind of a border clash could escalate. Border clashes are almost routine. There have been

back and forth government on government, soldier on soldier clashes as well, of course, as the perpetual insurgency almost that's going on inside

the Indian-held, Kashmir and that's been going on since 1947, since the partition of what was then the Indian raj into Pakistan and what became

Bangladesh in the end.

But, Paula, I think really this is getting worse all the time because of the level of tensions. We're talking there about Afghanistan is a great

deal of concern about certainly from the Pakistani perspective about Indian influence on its flank, on its Afghan flank, too.

So this creates an atmosphere of paranoia and that ultimately is what the international community is worried could escalate to something really

catastrophic. Here's my report, Paula, examining these issues.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KILEY (voice-over): the aftermath of an airstrike against nuclear power Pakistan by its neighbor India, also a nuclear power.

India said it had sent jets to bomb terror camps inside Pakistan. Retaliation for this suicide car bombing which killed 40 paramilitary

police almost two weeks ago inside Indian-controlled Kashmir. A region also claimed by Pakistan.

India blamed the mass killings on a Pakistan-based militant group, saying the airstrikes were aimed at preventing more attacks. Pakistan has denied

any connection with the convoy attack.

VIJAY GOKHALE, INDIAN FOREIGN SECRETARY: In the face of imminent danger, a preemptive strike became absolutely necessary.

In an intelligence-led operation in the early hours of today, India struck the biggest training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot. In this

operation, a very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, trainers, senior commanders, and groups of Jihadis who have been trained for Fedayeen

action were eliminated.

KILEY: India and Pakistan fought three wars over Kashmir. The areas they rule are separated by a line of control which Indian jets briefly crossed.

Pakistan was scornful of the incursion, insisting that an empty hillside had been hit. But vowed retaliation.

SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER: India has committed uncalled for aggression to which Pakistan shall respond at the time and

place of its choosing.

KILEY: This region is seen as a nuclear tinder box. The latest airstrikes provoking an immediate call restraint, not retaliation.

MAJA KOCIJANCIC, EUROPEAN COMMISSION SPOKESWOMAN: What we believe is essential is that all exercise maximum restraint and avoid further

escalation of tensions.

KILEY: In India, many are delighted at the latest cycle of violence.

KARMELA BA, WIFE OF POLICEMAN KILLED IN KASHMIR ATTACK (through translator): The attack in Pakistan today was revenge for my husband's

death in the blast. I'm very happy and proud.

KILEY: But it's the instinct for revenge that leaders on both sides must resist to avoid nuclear conflict and mutually assured destruction.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Yes, you can see there the reason that you would call for restraint, and yet it is an election year in India. To me these airstrikes

do look expedient.

KILEY: It could be something in that, Paula. I have to say, though, that both sides have been belligerent across this border for many, many years.

And the killing of 40 members of the paramilitary police in Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian-held territory disputed in Kashmir, was the biggest

death toll for many, many years.

So it was almost inevitably that the Indians would hit back. And I note with interest that they use language we hear more often from the United

States and her western allies, a doctrine of preemption, preemptive strike driven by intelligence intended to attack terrorist planning further

atrocities is the sort of language we've heard very often from the west. And now we're hearing it in a different part of the world, Paula.

NEWTON: Important context there, Sam, as we continue to await what will be that Pakistan -- Pakistani response. Sam Kiley there for us in Abu Dhabi.

Appreciate it.

And we will be right back after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:55:32] NEWTON: March 14th is the third annual My Freedom Day. CNN is partnering with young people right around the world for a student-led day

of action against modern-day slavery.

Now, this year, we're asking, what makes you feel free? Here's what tennis great, Boris Becker, had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS BECKER, FORMER TENNIS PLAYER: What makes me feel free is the ability to make choices about what I think, where I want to live, what do I want to

eat, and which God I believe in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: OK. We want you to tell the world what makes you feel free. Please don't be shy. Share your story using the #myfreedomday. Modern-day

slavery, unfortunately, is still a fact of life right around the world, including right here in the United States.

Please continue to tell us how you feel about what freedom means to you.

And I want to thank you for watching us here tonight. Stay with CNN. I leave you in the very capable hands of Mr. Richard Quest with quest "QUEST

MEANS BUSINESS" up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END