FAREED ZAKARIA GPS
Aired April 19, 2009 – 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I’m Fareed Zakaria.
After months of growing instability, serious foreign policy analysts are now speaking about the prospect of the collapse of Pakistan. David Kilcullen, once a key adviser to General Petraeus and a frequent guest on this program, argues that we need to face the possibility that the Pakistani government could fall within a month.
This week, we’re going to devote our entire show to the problems around Pakistan and Afghanistan, which are clearly the most explosive powder kegs in the world.
You know, we worry that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons and have them in a few years. Pakistan has them now — along with al Qaeda terrorists who move freely across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A crucial, disturbing recent development has been that the Taliban are making bold inroads into a new region of Pakistan, Punjab, the province that is home to more than half of the entire Pakistani population. As one Punjabi police official told a reporter, “If you want to destabilize Pakistan, you have to destabilize Punjab.”
Meanwhile, defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan might be one way to lessen their power in Pakistan. And some observers believe that the best possible chance to do all of this is to try a repeat of what worked in Iraq. We divided our enemies. In military-speak, we co- opted the reconcilables.
It sounds simple. And perhaps it was in Iraq. But it’s not so simple in either Pakistan or Afghanistan.
So, what to do?
Well, maybe we’ll figure it out today. We’re certainly talking to the right people.
In just a second, the man who at the moment has the power over much of Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Then, President Barack Obama’s special representative to the region, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
And finally, a Pakistani journalist who has written more deeply and widely about the Taliban than anyone else, Ahmed Rashid.
It’s going to be a great show. Stay with us.
ZAKARIA: And now, President Hamid Karzai joins us from the presidential palace in Kabul.
President Karzai, thank you for agreeing to be on the program.
HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: Most welcome. Happy to be with you.
ZAKARIA: You signed a law recently that put into place a kind of Muslim personal law for the Shia of Afghanistan.
This is a law that many regard as quite reactionary. It requires that a woman take permission from her husband before she leaves the house. It allows the husband to have sex forcibly with the woman, with his wife.
President Obama has called this law abhorrent.
You said you didn’t want Westerners interfering in this, but now you have Afghan women marching in opposition to this.
Why did you sign this law?
KARZAI: This law was signed without the knowledge of the articles in it. This is a huge, you know — huge in terms of the many articles. This law has so many articles. And I was…
ZAKARIA: And you hadn’t focused on those ones?
KARZAI: I will come to that.
I was approached by our human rights commissioner, Dr. Sima Samar, about four months ago about two or three of the articles of that law that needed correction. Nobody knew that the law also included these details. And neither the minister of justice nor even some people who worked on this law did not find these articles in the law when they were working on it.
And once I came to know of this law and the details of it, I asked the minister of justice to come and inform me in detail as to what it is, and what should be done about this. Now I have instructed, in consultation with the clergy of the country, that the law be revised, and that any article that’s not in keeping with the Afghan constitution and with Islamic Sharia must be removed from this law.
I assure you, my friend, that the Afghan people understand this, too. We do fully.
Fortunately enough, Afghanistan is today a country where there can be a demonstration of women in the city of Kabul, in other parts of the country, for or against a law, this law or any other law. So, that is great progress in this country.
And I assure you that the country is aware of this, and the country will deal with it appropriately and with satisfaction to Afghans and to the rest of the world.
ZAKARIA: The last time we spoke, Mr. President, it was mid- February, and you were a little concerned that the Obama administration had not really sorted out its Afghanistan policy. You said to me, once they settle down, we will see better judgment.
Since then, of course, we have had the announcement of the strategy. So, is it your sense now that the Obama administration is pursuing the right strategy in your country?
KARZAI: We agree with almost all the elements of this strategy. Now, we must see to it that it’s implemented in cooperation with Afghanistan and Pakistan in a manner that will get us closer to success.
ZAKARIA: President Obama says that a core part of the strategy is to defeat, disrupt al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But you have often said to me, Afghanistan — al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan.
So, who exactly are we fighting in Afghanistan?
KARZAI: Yes, indeed, al Qaeda is not in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan in 2001, by the combined forces of the United States, our other allies and the Afghan people.
Of course, there may be al Qaeda-sent terrorists to Afghanistan that we should fight and we should defeat. But as you know, as we all know, Afghanistan does not have any al Qaeda base or center or any such structural presence.
ZAKARIA: So you say we are fighting the Taliban. But you yourself have asked for the Taliban to be removed off the U.N. blacklist, because you want to try to make peace with elements of the Taliban.
So, the Taliban tends to be used as a very broad concept or entity.
You tell us. What do we mean when we talk about the Taliban in Afghanistan? What is it?
KARZAI: In 2001 — and this is a very pertinent question, Mr. Zakaria —
in 2001, the Taliban and their destruction of Afghanistan and al Qaeda were driven out in less than a month-and-a-half.
And many of them, their senior commanders, their mid-level commanders and their foot soldiers, they went back to their villages and stayed in the country, and began to live their lives like other citizens of Afghanistan.
But the thousands of them who stayed in Afghanistan who were, because of circumstances, or because of the bad behavior of the Afghan forces or the international forces, driven away from Afghanistan and forced into exile and forced into taking up arms against us, are the ones that you are talking of peace with.
ZAKARIA: But many American troops on the ground report that when they try to make peace with elements of the Taliban, the problem is those people are often killed, they are intimidated, that the process is turning out to be quite difficult.
KARZAI: Well, peace cannot be made at tactical levels. So, when an American commander on the ground tries to make peace with a certain Taliban commander on the ground, that’s not going to give us the results. That’s an obscure activity.
ZAKARIA: Now, that’s a big difference, though, with current U.S. policy. The current policy does have U.S. commanders at a local level trying a kind of bottom-up reconciliation process.
You’re saying you want a top-down one, which is negotiated presumably by you and other members of your government.
KARZAI: That’s tactical and parochial and local.
If you want to accomplish a local deal with a certain Taliban commander at a tactical level, good enough. But even that has to be done in agreement with the Afghan administration at the local, provincial level.
Without that knowledge…
ZAKARIA: Do you…
KARZAI: … in the Afghan administration, this peace process will not go anywhere.
So it has to be at a bigger, national level, backed by the international community, in full knowledge of the Afghan people and the international community and at the local level for peace-building. Tactically at the local level, it’s good enough, but it has to be in full view and knowledge and participation of the Afghan authority there.
ZAKARIA: In order to make peace at the national level, do you need that Mullah Omar be taken off the U.N. blacklist?
KARZAI: I have spoken about this issue very openly in the past. I have mentioned that, if he wants to come and participate in the peace process, if he wants to return to the country and give up violence against the Afghan people, against the international community, and declare that intention very, very clearly, we should be willing to consider.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you how your relations with the Obama administration are going, specifically with one person, Richard Holbrooke, who is the special representative. He’s a tough negotiator. People in Washington call him “the bulldozer.” Are you working well with him?
KARZAI: Well, relations with the U.S. government, with President Obama’s administration are very, very good. We have a good relationship, especially with the announcement of the strategy on Afghanistan. We now know where we are leading. So, that is a great plus.
With Ambassador Holbrooke, the relationship is very good, and a working relationship. As far as bulldozing is concerned, Afghanistan is known to be a bulldozer, so that’s what we do.
ZAKARIA: On that note, President Karzai, you’re very kind to have joined us. Thank you again.
KARZAI: Good to talk to you. All the best.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: You have people who committed 9/11, who attacked Mumbai, who attacked Islamabad, who killed Benazir Bhutto, and without any doubt at all are planning attacks on the United States and our allies, as well as the government of Pakistan, as we speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: Richard Holbrooke is the man at the center of American policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As the U.S. special representative to those two countries, he is responsible for negotiating the difficult path to peace.
He joins us now from Tokyo, where he is attending an international aid conference aimed at stabilizing Pakistan’s precarious finances.
Ambassador Holbrooke, thank you for joining us.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: Good to be with you, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, ambassador, about a personality. When you were a private citizen, you often expressed some misgivings and, in fact, criticized President Karzai of Afghanistan.
Have you found it easier to get along with him? Do you think he’s doing a good job now?
HOLBROOKE: I want to be very clear on this point. First of all, whatever I wrote in the past, I stand by. My current job is to help strengthen the government of Afghanistan under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The number one issue in Afghanistan this year politically is the election. The candidates are not declared yet. But if there is a candidacy by any one individual, whether it’s President Karzai or anyone else, the U.S. is not going to support or oppose whoever is running, and that includes President Karzai.
ZAKARIA: Do you feel, ambassador, that it is possible in Afghanistan to have local reconciliation or reconciliation of any kind with some elements of what is sometimes called the Taliban?
HOLBROOKE: This is a work in progress, quite frankly, Fareed.
The Obama administration came into office only nine weeks ago, 10 weeks ago, without having inherited a clear policy on this from the previous administration. We are examining it at every level. It is an extremely important and interesting issue
But at this point — and I’m being very honest with you, Fareed — we don’t really know how this program or project might work.
But the importance of reaching out and making clear to those people fighting with the Taliban, who are not committed to its values, but are there because they misunderstand why NATO is present, that’s a very important thing.
ZAKARIA: And let me read to you something President Karzai said when I asked him about the local efforts being made, because some of them have already begun, as you know.
He said, “Well, peace cannot be made at tactical levels. So when an American commander on the ground tries to make peace with a certain Taliban commander on the ground, that is not going to give us results. That’s an obscure activity that neither the Afghan government nor Afghan society knows about, and sometimes never finds out about.”
So what’s he’s suggesting is, don’t do a bottom-up process. Basically let me, President Karzai, negotiate with the Taliban.
HOLBROOKE: Yes. And your question is?
ZAKARIA: Your reaction to that, Ambassador Holbrooke?
HOLBROOKE: Well, I’m very interested in the quote. I hadn’t heard him put it that way before. I’d like to ask him exactly what he’s talking about.
If local units wish to stop fighting, that would be welcome, and I’m sure President Karzai and I would agree on that.
ZAKARIA: All right, let me ask you then about the other country in your gambit, which is Pakistan.
Who is running the national security policy of Pakistan, President Zardari or General Kayani? HOLBROOKE: I think the clear answer is that President Zardari is the president, and General Kayani is the chief of staff of the army. In Pakistan’s tradition and its complex arrangements of power, like any government, the power is distributed under the president. And the army has played a very powerful role.
General Kayani has said repeatedly — and I take him completely at his word. He’s a sincere and intelligent and decent person. He has said repeatedly that he does not wish his military forces to get involved in political issues. And as I said, I really take him at his word on that.
ZAKARIA: Is the democratically-elected government — does the president, though, have the kind of power and legitimacy that would allow him to act?
In a “Wall Street Journal” article that was largely an interview with you, there was a quote from President Zardari saying, “I am losing my country. I am losing support in my country.”
Is it possible for this government to deliver in Pakistan?
HOLBROOKE: You’ve raised a critical issue. I’m not sure what was implied by the phrase “losing Pakistan.” I think he gave that interview at a time right after this intense political confrontation, which came to a climax on the weekend of March 15, 16.
That was a near-run thing, Fareed, as you know. There were over a million people on the streets of Lahore and Islamabad. There was a threat of violence. There was a threat of assassination. There was — some people thought there might be military intervention.
And I think the important thing to point out is that that particular crisis, that confrontation between President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, who is the senior political figure in the Punjab, was resolved peacefully. Had it not been resolved peacefully, you and I would be having this conversation today under very different circumstances. It was very dangerous thing, and I think passing it was a positive step.
But I’m not going to pretend that the situation in Pakistan is not difficult. It is very difficult. I can think of no other place in the world where history hangs more heavily over the situation, and current economic conditions makes it more difficult in Pakistan.
And I would say one other thing. Pakistan really matters to the national security of the United States.
In its western areas along the border, the so-called Tribal Areas, you have people who committed 9/11, who attacked Mumbai, who attacked Islamabad, who killed Benazir Bhutto, and without any doubt at all are planning attacks on the United States and our allies, as well as the government of Pakistan, as we speak.
ZAKARIA: You noted a recent deal that the Pakistani military made in the Swat Valley. In the Swat Valley the Pakistani military signed an agreement with the militants, and the Pakistani government also signed it, which seemed to allow the militants free rein to institute Sharia law and things like that.
You said you were puzzled by that deal.
Over the last three or four weeks, what is your sense? Was that deal a good peace deal, or was it a kind of panic surrender that hasn’t worked?
HOLBROOKE: I have expressed my concern and confusion about what happened, publicly, and I’m happy to express it again today. I have expressed it openly to our friends in Pakistan.
The Pakistani response is that they had no choice, given the stretched — how stretched thin their military resources are.
But I would draw your attention to the fact that the day before yesterday the chief spokesman of the Taliban in the Swat area publicly renounced the part of the deal in which they’re supposed to lay down their arms.
And it seems to me that that ought to be a wakeup call to everybody in Pakistan that you can’t deal with these people by giving away territory as they creep closer and closer to the populated centers of the Punjab and Islamabad. They’re less than 100 miles from Islamabad after this deal.
And I am concerned at the growing risk that you’ll have more terrorist attacks in Lahore and Islamabad, perhaps in Karachi. So we are very concerned about this.
ZAKARIA: And we will be back with Richard Holbrooke right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLBROOKE: It is hard. I mean, the truth is, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: And we are back with President Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.
Let me first ask you about these reports of the Taliban moving into parts of Punjab. The people on the ground in Pakistan seem very disturbed and seem to see this as a new and potentially very dangerous phenomenon. How do you read it?
HOLBROOKE: Well, I agree with that assessment. So does everyone in the U.S. government.
Our focus is equally on Pakistan and Afghanistan. No matter how good the government in Kabul, no matter how well we do in Afghanistan, if the situation in western Pakistan continues to deteriorate, success will be elusive and very difficult to achieve.
So our focus, which is symbolized by my participating as America’s representative in this conference in Tokyo, is very strong.
This is a really dangerous situation in Pakistan today. And we are focused on it very heavily.
ZAKARIA: What do you see as the worst case, ambassador? And is the U.S. government planning for this? I mean, can you imagine a situation where Pakistan just spins out of control?
David Kilcullen, adviser to General Petraeus, says Pakistan could collapse and that the U.S. government should be making contingency plans for something like that.
HOLBROOKE: Well, I respect David Kilcullen enormously, but I’ll let him speak for himself.
Are we concerned about Pakistan? You bet.
President Zardari himself, as you quoted a moment ago, is concerned about his country. Everyone I have met in recent trips to Pakistan is concerned.
What’s happened in Swat is a huge wakeup call. That is not in the Tribal Areas. That is 100 miles from Islamabad.
As I like to say to my friends in New York, it’s the same distance as East Hampton is from Manhattan. And it has the same psychological relationship to the leaders in Islamabad. They vacation there. And for it to fall under the realm of such murderous people preaching such hateful philosophies is really extraordinary. And we are concerned about it.
ZAKARIA: What is the strategy you would advocate? What would you urge the Pakistani government, to go after them militarily and hit them hard?
HOLBROOKE: First of all, I think you have to go at the economic and social roots of the instability in western Pakistan with more economic aid. The literacy rate is about — is in the single digits there. For women it’s half of what it is for men. It’s a breeding ground for the kind of rebellions which are now springing up.
There’s always been a lot of rebellions in that area historically, but this is the first time they’ve been tied to an international terror movement as opposed to local tribes. And for the first time since partition over 60 years ago, India, Pakistan and the United States face a common threat, a common challenge and a common task because of this.
So, we need more resources. Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar in the Senate, Congressman Berman, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, have put in a bill for $1.5 billion of aid for the next five years, each year, to deal with the economic and social issues in the Tribal Areas. In Tokyo we are pledging $1 billion in quick aid for the same problem. This is just the American pledge. Congressional approval, of course, is required. So, we’ve got a lot to do.
On the military side — back to your question — the necessity, in my view, is for the Pakistan Army to strengthen the Frontier Corps, to train its troops in guerrilla warfare and counter-guerrilla warfare, to win the propaganda battle — which, as I said a moment ago, they are not even in the game on.
It’s a tremendous set of problems. And I want to underscore again, that if these problems are not addressed, success in neighboring Afghanistan is going to be virtually impossible, no matter how good the government is or how effective our troops are.
So the issue you’re raising is at the center of our current concerns in the Obama administration.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about General Kayani. You had very nice things to say about him.
But there are many who feel that he and the Pakistan military still don’t get it. They don’t think that the real threat they face is from these groups within Pakistan, these militant groups, and instead are still focused on a kind of a strategy, a military strategy, that is focused on India, an enemy they are comfortable with, they have planned and prepared for for decades.
In your opinion, has the Pakistani military shifted its focus? And does it see the problem of the Taliban as the existential threat to Pakistan?
HOLBROOKE: I hope they do.
And when you say Taliban, I think your viewers around the world should understand that you’re not just talking about Taliban. The word “Taliban” in this case embraces al Qaeda and really dangerous other groups in the same area, loosely affiliated.
The question you ask about the Pakistani military and its chief of staff is one that I hear constantly. And therefore, as everyone is very well aware of all the allegations, all I can say is that we work with General Kayani, particularly our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.
We work with General Kayani and his colleagues on the basis of a reasonable assumption that they are absolutely sincere in their efforts to take on the militants.
However, all of us have said — and I don’t think there is anything improper about saying it — that the Pakistani Army has traditionally been arrayed in a conventional deployment in the east, against its historic adversary and neighbor, India.
And that I believe — and I think my colleagues in the military would agree, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen — that they need more resources in the West.
One of the things we think the Pakistanis ought to do is strengthen the famous Frontier Corps, a group that was set up by the British in the colonial era and is now part of the Pakistani military structure, but has not been equipped with modern weapons and needs training for what is called counterinsurgency. It’s a different kind of war against a different kind of enemy.
ZAKARIA: Ambassador, you brought peace to the Balkans by ending the war there. Does this seem a lot harder than what you did at Dayton, Ohio?
HOLBROOKE: Yes, it does. It does, Fareed. It’s almost as difficult as enduring an interview with you, actually.
ZAKARIA: Well, I won’t make you endure it any longer.
HOLBROOKE: I was just kidding, Fareed. Just kidding.
But I do want to say that, what we did in the Balkans was a thrilling thing to be part of. And it is relevant in one key sense to what we’re doing today.
This was a Muslim country in the heart of Europe, and American intervention under President Clinton ended that war and saved that community, and four years later did the same thing in Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim society.
I say this with great passion to you and your international audience, because I am tired of people saying that the United States is anti-Islam or is fighting a religion.
That is certainly not true. Quite the contrary. We are helping the Afghan people restore themselves in history.
People don’t remember that 30 years ago, before the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Afghanistan was a food exporter. It was a poor but emerging country with ethnic harmony. We want to help Afghanistan get back to that.
And people who are genuinely bad, and backed up by al Qaeda itself, are trying to destroy that dream for the Afghan people.
It is hard. I mean, the truth is, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted. But I see no alternative for the United States in its own national security interests but to continue to try to do the best we can in this extremely difficult situation.
ZAKARIA: Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, thank you so much for joining us.
HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Fareed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AHMED RASHID: Right now in the middle classes in Pakistan, in the cities, people are saying, well, if the army is not killing the bad guys, and the Americans are killing the bad guys with a minimum of civilian casualties, let the Americans carry on and do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAKARIA: There is probably no journalist anywhere who knows more about Afghanistan and Pakistan than my next guest. Ahmed Rashid is based in Lahore, Pakistan, and has written for publications all over the world. And he also writes great books.
Back in 2001, his book “Taliban” shot to the top of the “New York Times” bestseller list after 9/11. His latest is “Descent into Chaos,” and it paints a grim picture of what is going on in the region.
AHMED RASHID, PAKISTANI JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Thank you.
ZAKARIA: David Kilcullen, whom I’m sure you know, says that the Pakistani state could collapse within weeks, months, that there is that danger. At least we should be thinking in those terms.
Do you think it’s that bad?
RASHID: Well, it’s certainly very bad. Pakistan is at a very precarious point in its existence. I don’t think it can immediately collapse. It’s a big country. It’s 170 million people, very many different ethnic groups.
But certainly, the spread of the Taliban in Punjab, what we’ve seen in the last few months, is really critical, because Punjab is the heartland, is the political fulcrum. It’s the economic heartland, also the main agricultural base for the country.
And if you have Taliban running mayhem in Punjab, you’re going to get, I wouldn’t say a breakdown, but you’re going to get a growing anarchic kind of situation where the state just loses control.
ZAKARIA: How has this happened? Because we have thought of the Taliban being able to radicalize and take control of these mountainous areas where, you know, the Pakistani state does not have much reach either politically or militarily.
But Punjab is — I mean, it’s like New York and California combined. So how is it that the Taliban are able to take control of this area politically, militarily? What’s going on?
RASHID: Well, I think two things have happened. First of all, they’ve, of course, moved out of the Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan. They’ve occupied these valleys, particularly the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan. And these valleys are just north of all the settled areas of Punjab. So now they have access to Punjab in a way that they didn’t have before.
But the other most important thing is that they have linked up with a lot of the Punjabi extremist groups, Kashmiri groups, groups that have been fighting India for the last two or three decades, which are largely urban-based, in Punjab.
They have linked up with the Taliban. They are providing support and access for these Taliban to come into Punjab.
And so what I’m saying is that the Taliban, which is largely a Pashtun movement relegated to the north, they have now Punjabi allies. And this is the first time that you’ve got this linkage between Pashtun extremism, as reflected by the Taliban from the north, and allies in the south.
ZAKARIA: So, to respond to this, you have the Pakistani government. Who is actually running Pakistan at this point, the elected democratic government of Zardari, or the army?
RASHID: Well, on the crucial, I think, issues of security and foreign policy, the army is calling the shots. You know, if — I don’t think if Zardari gives the order for the army to go into Swat, the army will take its own decisions of whether it will or not.
And unfortunately, I think, the government, the army are all in — at the moment they seem to be in a kind of — some kind of state of denial about the real threat. The army still says that India is a bigger threat than the extremists.
If you ask the Pakistani public, they will say, well, India is not about to capture Punjab. The extremists are about to capture Punjab. So you know, where does the bigger threat lie?
So, what is, I think, absolutely critical is that we have to get out of this state of denial, and we have to mobilize public support — the government, the army and some mobilized public support behind a campaign against these extremists.
ZAKARIA: And where does — how does the United States play into this? Because if we seem to be doing too much, it seems to provoke anti-Americanism. If we don’t do much, without the pressure, the Pakistani army doesn’t seem to want to really take this on.
RASHID: Well, I think, you know, in a sense the army was very spoiled during the Bush administration. They got $11 billion, almost with nothing going to the civilian population of this aid, no accountability, no transparency. We don’t know where the money went. The American Congress even doesn’t know where the money went.
Now, I think, obviously, that is not — as Obama said, you know, there is no blank check. There has to be accountability and transparency.
But I think what Pakistan really needs at the moment is economic support. It needs developmental aid.
ZAKARIA: But even this aid is not going to solve this immediate problem. So what do we do now?
I know that you’re here in the United States, among other things, talking to the U.S. military. So if you had General Petraeus listening to you, what would you tell him to do? What should his strategy be in Pakistan?
RASHID: I think the military and the government here have to be patient. They have to be committed, but they have to also be patient.
I think aid is a very important part. I think hammering away at the Pakistan military, because it’s in a state of denial about the threat of extremism, I think, you know, giving incentives for training and counterinsurgency, keeping those incentives on the table, I think are all very important.
So we need a really — it’s a very complex kind of array of incentives and pressures that need to be on the table all the time.
ZAKARIA: But better to let the Pakistan military ultimately deal with this problem militarily rather than have the U.S. go in, either through drone attacks or Special Forces and hit the Taliban?
RASHID: I think that there is no question about that. I mean, I think for the U.S. to get — to start going into Pakistan, then the U.S. will really get bogged down. And that would really turn into a quagmire.
Pakistan is just too big a country. It has a very powerful military. If this military can be mobilized in the right direction — and, of course, that also means political support at home, it means public support at home — if the military can be mobilized, I think we have a sufficient army that can deal with this fundamentalist threat.
ZAKARIA: Do you think the Pakistani public now realizes that this is the crucial threat to its existence and would not see this as America’s war, but really Pakistan’s war?
RASHID: I think, you know, what we have seen in the last few months has horrified Pakistan. People like myself have been writing about this for years and years. But the general public was not convinced.
Yes, there is very strong anti-Americanism. Yes, there is some sympathy for the Taliban, because it’s perceived that the Taliban are anti-American.
But people are now seeing real fear, because, I mean, you know, they’re phoning up their relatives in northern Pakistan, who are now refugees. And they are now understanding that this Taliban phenomenon is a real threat. And I think there is an increasing demand that the army and the government get their act together and move against the Taliban.
Even on the drone attacks, let me tell you, there is a strong feeling now — you know, everybody was against the drone attacks.
Right now in the middle classes in Pakistan, in the cities, people are saying, well, if the army is not killing the bad guys, and the Americans are killing the bad guys with a minimum of civilian casualties, let the Americans carry on and do it.
So even the mood on the drone attacks, in my opinion, is changing.
ZAKARIA: That’s what we have to hope for, really, the change in the mood in Pakistan.
ZAKARIA: Ahmed Rashid, a pleasure as always.
RASHID: Thank you very much indeed.
ZAKARIA: And we will be right back.
ZAKARIA: Now, for our “What in the World” feature. Here’s what got my attention this week.
This picture. It’s remarkable. It doesn’t look remarkable to you, but consider this. This is Benjamin Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, surrounded by and talking with real Americans, in this case college students at Morehouse in Atlanta.
The only other people to have held the job of chairman since 1979, Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, rarely appeared in public, much less spoke to ordinary Americans. Greenspan did a grand total of one television interview during his almost 20 years in the job.
Bernanke has ushered in a new era of openness. He’s talking to the press. He’s toured his home town of Dillon, South Carolina. He’s letting America and the world know what goes on behind those thick, Georgian marble walls of the Federal Reserve Building.
It’s more than symbolic. Bernanke has redefined the role of the Fed in this crisis, using powers rarely invoked, pushing the envelope on others, inventing still more — all to keep the global economy from collapsing.
He has flooded the market with liquidity to prevent credit from drying up completely, which would put the economy in an irreversible tailspin.
And if the economy stabilizes and then recovers reasonably quickly, the man who will have been most responsible will be Ben Bernanke.
Of course, he will then instantly face the challenge of undoing everything he has done to prevent inflation from getting out of control. But compared with other central bankers around the world and with other policymakers in the United States and abroad, Benjamin Bernanke has reacted to this crisis with speed, energy and inventiveness. We’re lucky to have him.
And we will be right back.
ZAKARIA: Now, to the question of the week.
Last week, the question was preempted for viewers in the United States and many other parts of the world. But the question was whether the United States spends too much on its military. The feeling we got from those who saw the program was, yes, indeed it does.
For this week’s question, if it wasn’t obvious to you beforehand, it should have been after watching this show. Pakistan is truly in danger of collapse.
So, even though the U.S. is often harshly criticized for meddling in the affairs of other sovereign states, should it now take some drastic action and interfere in the inner workings of Pakistan — politically, even militarily — to keep it from falling apart or being captured by the Taliban?
Let me know what you think.
In addition to the question of the week, I want to remind you of the Fareed Challenge, the weekly world affairs quiz on our Web site, cnn.com/gps. It’s great fun. Please do try it.
And as always, I’d like to recommend a book. John Micklethwait, one of my guests last week, has written a fascinating book that’s just been published, “God Is Back.” It’s a look at the revival of religion happening around the world.
And don’t forget to check out our Web site, cnn.com/gps, for highlights from the program, the podcast and our current affairs quiz. And you can e-mail me at email@example.com.
Thanks for watching. Have a great week.