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Wrap-up of the Week's Interviews

Aired July 13, 2012 - 15:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to our special weekend edition of the program, where we bring you two of the big stories that we covered this week.

The marriage from hell between Pakistan and the United States, the U.S. finally said it was sorry for an airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. But that may not be enough to patch up a highly dysfunctional yet vital relationship. I talked about all of this with Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman from Karachi.

But first to Libya, which is bucking the trend among the Arab Spring countries. Egypt and Tunisia have ushered in democracies with an Islamic flavor. But elections just concluded in Libya had a different result.

A liberal secular party has dominated in the race to elect a new congress there, and that is because of this man, Mahmoud Jibril, an American-educated political scientist who led Libya through its transitional period and who may just become its future leader. And I spoke with him from Tripoli.


AMANPOUR: Mahmoud Jibril, thank you so much for joining me from Tripoli.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, today the results of your election have been announced. How is it that you did so well? What accounts for Libya bucking the trend, if you like, whereby in other countries that have had elections, the Islamists have won?

So how did the Libyan people, then, have the opportunity to put, let's say, a more secular, a more liberal group over the top?

JIBRIL: The Libyan people have nothing to do with liberalism or secularism or ideology in general, you know. What matters to them is to restore stability order and start their own life and be convinced of that for 42 years of deprivation, of every sort of development. This what matters to them.

I think our program, which we presented to the Libyan people, to a large degree, was compatible with those needs.

AMANPOUR: You just mentioned something that, of course, everybody is looking at. You talked about the absence of the state, not just now in this transitional period, but throughout the Gadhafi regime. We see a systematic destruction of the state, of civic systems there, civil society. Is that a challenge or is that an opportunity as you look ahead?

JIBRIL: I think it can be looked at both ways. It's a challenge in the sense that there is no sense of order, of discipline in the minds of people. And this takes time, you know, to install and restore this sense of discipline and obedience to the law.

But for the other -- from the other side, I think it's an opportunity that all parties, all political forces can have a new start, where all of them can participate and take part and reestablish in the states. So the legitimacy issue can be granted.

AMANPOUR: Many talk about you as the next eventual leader of Libya. I know you've talked about it in the past. But is that something that you look forward to? Will you run for the highest office in the land?

JIBRIL: I don't think that question has to do anything with votes, whether a president or a leader or the prime minister. I think the question in my mind is a question of role. If there isn't a role that I can play, what matters to me is the effectiveness of that role.

If I can contribute to the national interests of my country, I will not hesitate. But if there is a role that I cannot do anything from within that role, then I will not take part in it.

AMANPOUR: So you're leaving the door open to seeking further high office?

JIBRIL: That depends, you know, sometimes I'm just a consultant. I can provide consultancy to the next government, the next president and that role can be more effective than the post itself, you know. So it depends what role I can play, you know, where I can find myself.

AMANPOUR: So what is the biggest challenge, now that this round of elections has taken place?

JIBRIL: I think the biggest challenge right now is to convince our potential partner, especially the Islamist forces, with the fact that now it's time that we sit around one table and talk about one destiny that's the interest of the Libyan people. Consensus is the name of the game. It has nothing to do with who prevails in those elections and who does not prevail.

AMANPOUR: Well, again, it gets back to where you are on the Islamic spectrum, so to speak. Are you secular? Are you liberal? Are you Islamic enough? You know that the political wing of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood has said that you just aren't. What role in your mind should Islam play in the new Libya?

JIBRIL: I am a true Muslim, you know. But I have nothing to do with ideology, with their secularism, liberalism, political Islam. I believe in knowledge that builds societies. I'm a part and member of the world, the future society since 1987.

My obsession and my love is the futurology (ph). I believe that planning, knowledge, science is what builds societies. I think the cause of the Libyan people is development first. We have to take care of our education system, which has to be rebuilt again.

Our health services is totally a mess. We need to rebuild it again. Housing, unemployment, we have a vast amount of wealth. The questions of how to manage that vast amount of wealth to create an alternative economy to this interior (ph) -- economy, to the all (ph). I think these are the real challenge that can sustain life on this Earth (ph).

AMANPOUR: And are you optimistic about that? Again, in the framework of what Libya has been, basically the fiefdom of one man, one family, a lot of corruption, a lot of unemployment that you have to deal with right now, and yet, yes, you're very, very rich country with a very small population.

Are you optimistic that you can get all these challenges under control and that Libya can be developed economically?

JIBRIL: With what I have seen on 7th of July, yes, I am very much optimistic. I think in the 7th of July, the Libyan people have managed to prove one thing, that they are the real decision-maker, that the destiny of this country is not in the hands of any individual or of any political force or political party. It's only in their hands, you know. And this is very comforting for me, you know.

AMANPOUR: I think it was a huge surprise that the elections went off as well as they did, given all the violence and the chaos, actually, leading up to the election.

Can I ask you something? You were fundamentally vital to get the Libyan opposition, the rebels, if you like, recognized by the West, get them international approval. When you look across at Syria, what do you think has to happen there? Why haven't they been able to get that same kind of recognition and approval? They're struggling for the same things that you all struggle for.

JIBRIL: Well, I have talked to many members of the Syrian National Council, and I always tell them that the name of the game is unity. You have to be united. I think as long as they are not united, I think there is a problem there.

When they are united, they can have effectiveness. And when they have effectiveness, they can make the whole world listen to them, you know. But as long as there are divisions among them, I think the degree of effectiveness is still very much -- very low.

AMANPOUR: And what chances do you give? Or how do you see the future there? Do you think the forces of opposition will win? Or do you think the state will remain in power?

JIBRIL: Oh, yes, they will win. But too much sacrifice, as you know. I've been in the regime in the world and my opinion, the moment they spill just one drop of blood of their own citizens, they have lost legitimacy for good. Period. It's just a question of time. The more united you are, the shorter the time it's going to take. The more divisions there, the longer time it's going to take.

AMANPOUR: And, finally, about Saif al-Islam, Moammar Gadhafi's eldest son, who brought you in to do some economic reform but who now is going to face justice, as you know, the international courts would like to put him on trial. Can you see that ever happening, or do you insist that it happens inside Libya? And do you think he'll get a fair trial?

JIBRIL: Well, legally speaking, I think Libyan law has supremacy over international law. Two, we're not members to the ICC. Three, I think it's the natural right of the Libyan people to have whomever committed the crimes against them to be tried on Libyan soil.

AMANPOUR: Mahmoud Jibril, thank you --


JIBRIL: But having said that, I think that -- the ICC can have international observers attend in this court, just to make sure that it's fair and it's carried out according to international standards.

AMANPOUR: An important distinction.

Mahmoud Jibril, thank you so much for joining me from Tripoli.

JIBRIL: Thanks for having me. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: So we've just heard that Libya is trying to chart a new democratic cause, and one that takes it from being a pariah and an enemy of the United States to a strong U.S. ally.

Now consider Pakistan. It's supposed to be a strong U.S. ally, but the two countries behave more like enemies these days. A peek over the pointed picket fence with Pakistan's ambassador to the United States when we come back.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program, where we want to take a look at what we've been calling the marriage from hell. That's the one between Pakistan and the United States. Since 9/11, the two countries have been forced to stay together for the sake of Afghanistan, also to fight terrorism and not to mention keeping an eye on Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Like many another unhappy couple, they bicker a lot, finally reaching an impasse when one of them refused to say "I'm sorry." Last week, they patched things up. After seven months of angry Pakistani demands, the United States did choke out an apology for a NATO airstrike that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman, was instrumental these latest negotiations, and I spoke to her from Karachi.


AMANPOUR: Ambassador Rehman, thank you so much for joining me.


AMANPOUR: Ambassador Rehman, tell me how this "sorry" came to pass. As we all know, it was demanded. It was asked. It would have been liked by Pakistan had it happened in the last seven months.

You spent a lot of time pressing for it. I read that you were shuttling back and forth between the White House, State Department, and you were told no, it's not going to happen. Walk me through how it did happen.

REHMAN: In effect, it was about Pakistan seeking the apology or the word "sorry," really, for the death of 24 soldiers at an incident at what we call a tragedy in Salalah (ph) in November last year, when 24 of our soldiers were killed.

So it did cause a huge, not just moment, but interlude of public grief and shock over an ally, you know, doing this and not apologizing. So I think we needed very importantly to get over that glitch. And it wasn't just that it needed to be done for us to move on and to seek some closure on issues that were holding us back.

AMANPOUR: So, Ambassador, why do you think that it was so hard for this to be forthcoming? Why did it take seven months for, apparently, national security adviser Tom Donilon to first say no to the secretary of state, you can't apologize; and then say yes, you can?

REHMAN: Well, I haven't been privy to the inside --


AMANPOUR: But you were, Ambassador. You were privy to it.

REHMAN: -- (inaudible) --

AMANPOUR: -- You were privy to it.

REHMAN: -- yes.

AMANPOUR: You were the interlocutor.

REHMAN: Well, I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm -- my job is -- my job, Christina (sic), is to talk about what we can do from here. It really is not going to help both countries for me to go into details that might hold us back. And I think we need to look forward.

Certainly, there was a delay. And there were occasions when I think that it was almost on the table. And there were occasions when it looked like it's off the table.

AMANPOUR: Well, in the last seven months, this very vital relationship has basically been on hold. Some here in the United States have said the fact that the "sorry" was eventually forthcoming, seven months later, despite the fact that the White House put a lot of pressure on Pakistan -- the U.S. tried to shame Pakistan in the news media.

You know perfectly well that your own president was denied a bilateral meeting with President Obama at the NATO summit. It's been described here as a failure for the U.S. policy of bullying Pakistan.

Do you see the U.S. as bullying Pakistan? Or do you believe you have a better relationship than that?

REHMAN: I certainly think that there were pressures on Pakistan and I don't think they were all applied in one coerced (ph) advice or a series of articulations that were constructed or planned by the administration. I think that what did really happen was it perhaps may be the politics of election year in Washington playing itself out.

And as far as Chicago was concerned, we were told from day one that there was going to be no bilateral -- for Pakistan, it was very important to demonstrate that we are committed to a responsible global enterprise of bringing peace and stability to Pakistan, to an alliance, rather (ph), and that Pakistan wants to play a clear and responsible role in that, and a constructive role in that.

AMANPOUR: You know, to all of use who follow this quite closely, it really does look like simply the latest episode in a really embarrassingly and appallingly dysfunctional relationship. We're told that this is the most important relationship for the United States and perhaps even for Pakistan. And yet it looks like a horribly, consistently squabbling couple that really should be headed for the divorce court.

What on Earth is going to make it something better, as you rightly point out? There's a war and a country to stabilize next door.

REHMAN: We need to understand that certainly Pakistan is looking for some amount of strategic sympathy in the losses we have incurred over the last 10 years. Christina (sic), we didn't have more than one suicide bombing before 2001.

So it's not that we are saying that all our troubles or volatility, even within parts of Pakistan, have come as a result of joining force with the United States and NATO. But much of it has. I think there needs to be less tough talk in public.

There's a trust gap, also, a trust deficit that you know about between the two countries, and we must work to build that, because both people are quite able to work together when left on their own.

It's when we get into the complexities of, you know, for instance, drones, that the whole drone program is seen as -- it tests the relationship at every juncture. And we honestly feel that there are better ways now of eliminating Al Qaeda, which has been done with our help. And we have been doing that consistently. We're the heavy lifters in this relationship.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you, clearly, the apology seems to have meant that the drone program continues. That's correct, right? You have agreed that the drone program continues?

REHMAN: No, we have not agreed on anything. In fact, those conversations are yet to happen. As I said, the apology has opened the space for an opportunity where we can have constructive conversations that might be -- might -- that might be to the satisfaction of both sides. Right now, we have given no go-ahead at all. There's no question of it.

We also consider it -- the drone program, we consider it counterproductive to all our goals in the sense that it radicalizes for the -- it radicalizes foot soldiers, tribes and entire villages in our region. And what we see, really, is that increasingly Pakistan is feared as a predatory footprint.

They also see it as something that -- and quite rightly, no way to be in countervention of international humanitarian and human rights laws. So these are important, I think, points to consider. They can't just be brushed aside.

AMANPOUR: Well, Ambassador --

REHMAN: And Pakistan is facing up to this challenge --

AMANPOUR: Ambassador --

REHMAN: -- on a daily basis.

AMANPOUR: Are you saying that the United States is in violation of international law when it conducts drone strikes on your territory?

REHMAN: This is something that Pakistan has consistently said.

AMANPOUR: Do you buy the administration's way of recognizing militants? As you know, they say that any male of military age is a militant when they strike. You accept that accounting? I know you don't accept the program. Do you accept the accounting?

REHMAN: I think that is also worrisome because this leads to what you call signature strikes, if I'm not mistaken, where a certain level of suspect activity generates or motivates the trigger for -- I really don't know what motivates the trigger for X level or Y level of drone strikes.

But I do appreciate that, while it may be seen as a tool that is absolutely precise and reduces collateral damage, I think that it is -- it has far outweighed its -- the damage it does really doesn't outweigh its benefits.

So it is something that is not only radicalizing large swaths (ph) of the population and it is also seen as predatory. It's seen as against the law. And it continues to challenge a relationship that can actually accomplish a lot more on the ground than we are doing today in eliminating terrorism.

AMANPOUR: Are you aware that President Obama himself personally oversees the strike list in certain sensitive cases?

REHMAN: We have not heard that that is actually the case. We need -- we would need to be told officially for me to give you a state response to that.

AMANPOUR: You talk about a lack of trust on all sides. When people here look at what one can do together, they point to the sentencing of the Pakistani doctor for helping in pinning down and tracing Osama bin Laden before the strike on Osama bin Laden's compound. I mean, sentencing him to 33 years is something that, here in the United States, people simply couldn't understand.

REHMAN: Dr. Afridi was, number one, he had no knowledge that the goal that he was working for -- he knew he was contracting with a foreign intelligence agency, but he had no knowledge that he was seeking to bring Osama bin Laden in, number one. So let's not lionize him.

Number two, he was contracting with many terrorist outfits, at least one that we know of on the ground. He was even kidnapped by one, and he was in many transactions on the ground, all over the place. He is one of many such people who have been convicted for such actions.

And his conviction is really for contracting with one of the terrorist groups that is waging or attempting to attack our soldiers. We've had several beheaded recently. Certainly our government would have considered a feather in our cap to get Osama bin Laden.

We do not want to play host to terrorists, international terrorists. They haunt our own people and our own children, our girls' schools, our hospitals, our Sufi shrines. They have bombed almost every day, including our police and security services. So it's not on your television screens, but our daily reality has, over the last 10 years, changed.

We are a resilient people, but it doesn't help to tell us to continue to do more. It is our fight as much as anyone else's, because we are committed to eliminating terrorism at its root and source.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Rehman, thank you very much for joining me.

REHMAN: Pleasure. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And from Pakistan, we'll turn next to embattled Mali, where the legendary city of Timbuktu is under assault by culture warriors, destroying an ancient civilization, brick by brick, when we come back.


AMANPOUR: And now for a final thought. Casualties of war, of course, we think of the human toll. But there are other losses. Imagine a world where a nation's ancient culture is marked for execution.

This week in northern Mali, Islamic militants have gone on a rampage, desecrating and destroying the tombs of Muslim mystics as well as other priceless shrines throughout the legendary city of Timbuktu. It's endangered treasures of wood and mud date back to the 15th century, when Timbuktu was the center of Islamic learning.

But the Mali marauders, who styled themselves the Ansar Dine and a link to Al Qaeda, considered these Sufi shrines to be monuments of idolatry and vow to raze them to the ground.

It brings to mind another desecration in the name of fundamentalism, the Taliban's wanton destruction of the two gigantic Buddhas in Afghanistan back in 2001. Like the ancient walls of Timbuktu, they cannot be replaced, nor can centuries of collected memory of who we are and where we came from.

That's it for our special weekend edition. In the meantime, you can always share any story you see on our program through our website, Thank you for watching and goodbye from New York.