tv Charlie Rose PBS July 27, 2010 11:00pm-12:00am PST
>> brian: >> welcome to our program. tonight, as the president spoke out today about the leak of the documents about the afghan war, we speak to pakistan's ambassador to the united states, husain haqqani. >> are pakistanis concerned about what might happen in afghanistan? absolutely. our countries are joined at the hip. does pakistan want the return of taliban to afghanistan? absolutely not. >> we talk to greg mortenson, a man who knows afghanistan and pakistan well and who the u.s. military is increasingly listening to. >> i think one of general mcchrystal's legacies is that the elders really felt that we were there to listen and help them. although he was called the
architect of the kandahar operation, which means hope in pashto, which was supposed to materialize, he, by the means of the elders, was advised not to do this operation. >> charlie: pakistan's ambassador to the united states, and greg mortenson. next. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following. ♪ >> additional funding provided by these funders. >> and by bloomberg. a provider of multimedia
captioning sponsored by rose cmunications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> charlie: in the first public reaction, today, to the leaking of the documents about afghanistan and pakistan, president obama said that he was concerned about the leaks but there was no new information coming from them. >> while i'm concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is, these documents don't reveal any issues that haven't already informed our public debate on afghanistan. indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall. that's why we've substantially increased our commitment there, insisted upon greater accountability from our partners
in afghanistan and pakistan, developed a new strategy that can work, and put in place a team, including one of our finest generals, to execute that plan. now we have to see that strategy through. >> charlie: the pentagon is obviously concerned about the source of the leaks. administeral mullen, general of the joint chiefs -- admiral mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs spoke today. >> i am appalled by the leak, and i believe there is potential there to put american lives at risk. >> charlie: the pentagon has said that it is launching a criminal investigation led by the army to determine the source of the leaks. there are also questions about the information and controversy arising from these documents, about what impact it might have on the public conversation about support for the afghan war. also, there is the question of the reaction in afghanistan and in pakistan. joining me now from washington, pakistan's ambassador to the united states, husain haqqani.
i am pleased to have him back on this program. welcome. >> thank you very much. >> charlie: tell me what you would add to what the president said. and do you agree with what the president said? >> i fully agree with what the president said, and i would only add one thing. there is mountain made out from a molehill. what we are seeing in these wikileaks documents are the first draft of field reports, and we all know that intelligence always takes a long time to refine. you remember the iraq war. we had intelligence that there were weapons of mass destruction in iraq which was processed intelligence and even that turned out to be wrong, so what we have here are people complaining, people reporting -- one report says, for example, 1,000 motorcycles are getting ready tordeployed for suicide bombings. that didn't pan out. a lot of these reports didn't pan out. that said, they do not reflect what is happening today, charlie. today, pakistan, afghanistan and the united states are working together much better than they have ever done in the last 10 years to try and stem the tide
of the taliban and to make sure that al qaeda is defeated. >> charlie: what's the difference in the pakistan taliban and the afghanistan taliban? >> the biggest difference is who the target is. the taliban want to create their version of an islamic state in pakistan and on pakistani territory and soil and the afghan have the same purpose but their target is in afghanistan. all these extremist groups, whether al qaeda or the different factions of the taliban, they do tend to cooperate, and we all know about that. of course, there are some people in afghanistan who say that they are just against a foreign military presence. those are people that president karzai and his colleagues in the afghan government are trying to talk to, and say, "guys, come into the government" and pakistan reports that afghan-led reconciliation process. know other than that anybody who targets civilians in
afghanistan, pakistan, or any other country is a terrorist and we oppose terrorists and we fight them. >> charlie: today, the relationship between the president of pakistan and the president of afghanistan is, what? cordial? warm? what? >> friendly. president karzai and president zardari both have a shared vision for the region. they want the region essentially not to be a region of war. not to be a crossroads of conflict. they want it to be a crossroads of opportunity. only a few days ago, pakistan and afghanistan concluded negotiations on a transit trade agreement which hasn't been concluded for 45 years. we both have baggage of history, and we understand that. but our presidents understand also that we have to go past that history to build a future for our people. there are too many illiterate children in afghanistan and pakistan, too many people wogo
hungry, too many people that do not have jobs that we need to pay attention to and that's where our energy should be focused. it doesn't mean we don't disagree, it doesn't mean we don't need help from the united states, but we are working issues from the past some of which is reflected in the kinds of reports that we see in this little sideshow called wikileaks. >> charlie: was there a connection between i.s.i. and the taliban? >> charlie -- >> charlie: before a certain date? >> let's be practical. what we are dealing with is not just about the taliban, it goes back to the soviets in afghanistan. the mujahideen morphed into the taliban. the intelligence service dealt with the mujahideen and the taliban and it has been going on for a long time. now the pakistani military and
the pakistani intelligence services are conducting successful military operations. we've had successful operations in swat and south afghanistan, we've taken out leaders on taliban from both sides of the border and moreover 74 i.s.i. personnel have been killed in the last two years and killed in the attacks by the taliban -- that should be alone sufficient to convince people that that is then and now is now and pakistan is now standing firmly on the side of those who want to eliminate the taliban and the extremists in our region. >> charlie: listen to this clip from a interview last night. >> we have to other than, kiani was head of the i.s.i. from 2004
to 2007 when a lot of this was going on, when the afghan taliban were going over into afghanistan and where they continue to do, and general kiani has made it perform clear that the afghan taliban is an asset of pakistan and they think it's a very important asset, because when the end game is over in afghanistan, the afghan taliban should have for pakistan a kind of sphere of influence in southern afghanistan, and i think we're rather naive to think that the pakistanis are ever going to give up -- >> charlie: that's why they don't do something about the hakanni network? >> absolutely. >> charlie: what do you say to that observation from jane? >> what i say to that is i don't know how "the new york times" works, i don't know how much autonomy reporters have vs. their editors but different branches of government have only a limited amount of autonomy from their top leadership. she's referring to a period when
the president was general pervez musharraf. pakistan has a parliament. i know that some people think pakistan's civilian government is relatively weak. that's because it is a democracy that has come back only two years ago after several years of dictatorship. but within pakistan, we must understand that where it's the interservices intelligence, the i.s.i., or the army, they all operate in the context of pakistan's politics, in the context of pakistan's constitutional arrangement and the government in pakistan including our military and our intelligence services are very clear about the future direction. we want good relations with our neighbors. have no intention of trying to carve out a sphere of influence in afghanistan. we are concerned about the influence of india in afghanistan because we have had conflict with india and we dont want to have a situation in which we are caught in a pinser movement. but the solution to that lies in -- caught in a pincer movement. but the solution lies to that.
>> charlie: is the concern about the end game in afghanistan that somehow the united states might leave because of pressure from a wide range of sources, and pakistan will, because of the aforementioned india connection to afghanistan, need a player there that they feel comfortable with? >> i would say yes to the first part. we do worry about a sudden withdrawal from afghanistan that might leave us in a situation similar to the one immediately after the soviet withdrawal in 1988 when the soviets withdrew from the americans withdrew as well, leaving us in the lurch, and the afghans without any direction and without any resources to deal with the aftermath. so we are concerned about that. but the solution to that, charlie, is not to try and have a future potential -- having
various kinds of people in afghanistan that we can use -- proteges or having various kinds of people in afghanistan that we can use, the future is defending the leaders of afghanistan which is what we're doing, our leadership, our intelligence leadership, our political leadership have all been engaging with president karzai. the united states has facilitated a process between pakistan, afghanistan and itself which is really moving quite well forward. i think the chairman of the joint chiefs, admiral mullen said today that we have made tremendous progress in pakistan in the last two years. unfortunately, a lot of the references to the past take place without any understanding of the substantive changes that are taking place both in the way pakistan sees the situation and how pakistan is dealing with it. >> charlie: it's also fair to say that admiral mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs, has made a number of visits to pakistan and developed quite a
good relationship with the head of your military. general kiani. >> absolutely. he has. that is a relationship that is useful for both our countries in understanding our perspective. are pakzis concerned about the future of afghanistan? absolutely. our countries are joined at the hip. we are concerned about what happens in the other. but does pakistan want a return of the taliban to afghanistan? absolutely not. why would we want people who behead people to run our neighboring country? the last time the taliban governed afghanistan, notwithstanding wat political views of some people in pakistan were -- what the political views of some people in pakistan were, the pakistani taliban as a consequence and we dont want a situation in which these extremist elements have a home in afghanistan, the governing or leading of afghanistan and thereby destabilizing our country and moving you us away from our dream of entering the 21st century as a modern muslim
democracy. >> charlie: let me ask you about two other groups and admiral mullen spoke about them today when he spoke about the leaks. he said i.s.i.'s links to al-taba as well as the hakanni network was unacceptable. >> i think that admiral mullen's views are understood and also shared at the highest levels of the government in pakistan. any group that is found to be an extremist group, and by the way, lashkara al-taba is banned in pakistan. there are elements of that group that still operate and pakistan is dealing with that. 30 years of this whole business that started with the jihad against the soviet union is what we are trying to deal with the aftermath of it's 30 years of cultivating these groups. supporting them. funding them. the opening of radical mother cells in various parts of the country.
i think we've done a decent job in the last two years of beginning the clean-up. we haven't cleaned it all up and we don't say we have -- we acknowledge that we have a lot more to do but what we have done needs to be appreciated and we can't just have the past thrown at us because we can't change the past. what we can change is the present and the future. >> charlie: fair enough, a lot of people will confirm the observation that you just made that things have become considerably better in the last couple years in terms of cooperation against going after a whole range of groups. there is always the haqqani network. >> by the way, i might add despite the similarity of my last name and them has nothing to do with me or my family.
>> he was considered a hero by many in the united states, he was among the many groups supported by the c.i.a. and the pakistani intelligence service and intelligence services of several western nations because he was a major fighter with tremendous issue through his jedran tribe in the border areas of pakistan and afghanistan. because of his tribal sons still have considerable influence. pakistan does not say that it will act against any particular group identified by our american partners. the only question is how, when, and whether we have the capacity to do it at a certain time. as you know, since you and i spoke about it for the first time had when i first became ambassador and came into your studio for a conversation we started our operation in swat. you may remember at that time people didn't trust us, they thought we were trying to cut
deals with the extremists. we weren't. what we were doing was trying to deal with the people, and at that time public opinion in pakistan was very reluctant to move against these people, that these guys cannot be negotiated with and if they are negotiated with they do not keep their end of the bargain, which is what happened. we moved in. we cleared swat. now we've cleared several other parts of what are known as the pakistani tribal areas. the haqqani aircraft is located in what is called north waziristan. pakistan has 38,000 military and paramilitary troops. we dont have sufficient sources in terms of air power and other military assets to be able to go into that area and conduct the kind of operations we did in swat and south waziristan. it's a matter we are conducting with our american partners. a lot has to be taken into account. the tribes and their alignment. we dont want to send our troops in and let them become fodder
for the butchery of the various groups of taliban that have the right mix of tribal alliances so a lot of it is actually work in progress. the problem, charlie, is that -- the speed at which pakistanis embrace change is not the speed at which our friends in the united states are usually used to dealing with change, so here when they recognize a problem, they want to solve it yesterday. >> charlie: right. >> we understand that sometimes it needs a lot of little elements to be put in place but the good news is that general petraeus and general kiani, our army chief, president zardari and several other leaders, our foreign minister and ambassador holbrooke and secretary clinton, they have all been working various elements of this problem consistently and regularly for the last several months, and i really would say that if people would just bear with us they
will see positive results in days to come even about which groups people have been worried in the past. >> charlie: here is the way i will translate what you said. if you give us time and have a little bit of patience we are prepared to go to north waziristan and go after the haqqani network. >> since i didn't it explicitly the way you said it i am not going to say it now either, because i have to play the role of diplomat sometimes. >> charlie: that's a "no comment"? what is that? >> i think i will let your viewers understand and i think your understanding of things is usually very correct. >> charlie: the obama administration from the national security people to the pentagon people to the state department people were very concerned about the leak of these documents because they wanted their new relationship with the pakistanis to stay on course. >> kaerl, we must understand that we have a democratic
government after a long hiatus, and what we have is a public opinion that is generally wary of the united states. we have a government that wants to be close to the united states, understands the benefits that could bring to pakistan and yet, a public that does not have a very high opinion of u.s. foreign policy, or, for that matter, of the united states in our region. the approval for united states is in very low double digits -- 17-18% at any given time. under such circumstances, our bigger worry is not just how somebody like me who deals with the u.s. on a day to day basis, or our foreign minister or somebody else with sophisticated understanding of american foreign policy making would take it but how public opinion would take it. if the pakistani public felt that this was just another attempt by the americans to leak documents as a means of embarrassing our government, our military or our intelligence
service, then that would not have helped our cause and that's why the obama administration was rightly concerned because look, we are mending a relationship in which a lot of distrust has crept in over the years. pakistan and the united states have been allies at different times. and yet we have been at loggerheads at different times. we're trying to bring consistency into it, we're trying to make it strategic rather than tactical, we're trying to give the impression to the people of pakistan that americans really care about pakistan and many do. and so those are concerns which need to be addressed even as we deal with something like the wikileaks controversy, because many people in pakistan, especially the hard-liners who think that the united states is not really a friend of pakistan, they would just be able to argue, look at these americans. you can do anything you like for them but they will never be
grateful and they will always abuse you. why don't we go back to doing what we used to do in the past. >> charlie: this is what you wrote today in "the wall street journal." pakistan's existence and traditional way of life are at stake. we fight alongside our friends all over the world to protect freedom. the u.s. could not have a more committed ally in this defining battle of the third millennium than the people, the government and the military of pakistan." who is the enemy? >> absolutely. >> charlie: who is the enemy? >> the enemy are the extremists who want us to shun modernity, who want our little girls not to go to school, who blow up schools in the tribal areas and in the northwest region of pakistan. the enemy are people who think that pakistan should become an isolated nation. the enemy are all those who think pakistan should not be a democracy. and above all, that pakistan should not be part of the 21st century and should not be part of globalization.
>> charlie: so do i also understand that the commitment of this government is even to do more -- which you have suggested here. what restricts it from doing more today? is it preoccupation with india? is it the internal dynamics of the united states? where we have a low approval rating in your country? what is it? >> all of the above. basically, this is a government that has come into office with a very mixed sort of parliamentary structure. at the same time, there are constitutional issues that needed to be attended to. we've attended to them. there are economic issues. we have severe power crisis, energy crisis because the previous government did not invest in power generation, so several hours pakistan does not have electricity and people are sitting in their homes in the heat of 100, 105, 110 degrees
with no fans, let alone air conditioning. there is a water short-yardage. and then, above all, there is a concern -- there is a water shortage. and then above all there is a concern that india is not reconciled to our sort of nationhood and statehood, and so those are concerns that are reflected in public opinion. and the government also has to deal with the view that the united states has not been a consistent friend of pakistan. and if we do too much at the behest of the united states, the u.s. could leave us in the lurch and walk away again. >> charlie: that's the pakistani fear right there, isn't it -- that the united states might walk away and you will have backed the wrong horse and you are in trouble? >> it's one of the many, many concerns but the biggest concern is the united states can actually leave projects incomplete -- it has happened in the past. u.s. assistance and economic aid has been suspend
-- u.s. assistance and aid has been suspended arbtraely and at short notice and things have been left incomplete. pakistan and the u.s. have had difficult last six decades. we were part of the southeast asia and the central treaty organizations and yet pakistan's concerns about india were not addressed by the americans and several concerns about our region were not understood or fully comprehended by pakistan's various leaders. we are trying to address the totality of the issues, and i have seen other leaders and figures who are dealing with the regional situation, admiral mullen has been on your show if i'm not mistaken. >> charlie: yes. >> i have seen ambassador holbrooke. all these point out that for the first time americans are trying to take a long-term view. we are grateful to senator john kerry of massachusetts and senator richard lugar of indiana
and howard berman for bringing about the kerry-lugar-berman bill which promises $1.5 billion in unconditional economic assistance of pakistan over the next five years. five years is as long a commitment as the united states makes at any time to one country and that will help pakistanis start getting a level of comfort with the united states. once that level of comfort is restored, the trust deficit is addressed, we can get back to being friends, allies and stop sort of worrying about what the other is doing. there are people in pakistan -- and i'm not one of them, but there are people in pakistan who are suspicious about what america's long-term intentions are in relation to afghanistan, and for that matter even in relation to pakistan. the pakistani government is working very hard at bringing about normalcy in relations with india, but there are outstanding issues that keep cropping up there as well. so what we are trying to do is
deal with several of these issues at a time when we have severe economic and social pressures within our society. >> charlie: before i go, mr. ambassador, i raised this point in a conversation with you today on the telephone. following you is greg mortenson who you know. tell me what it is about him -- because you gave him a huge award personally in pakistan -- what is it about him that makes him a person that the u.s. military and others want to hear from. >> let me just say that i haven't yet had the opportunity of meeting him in person, although i recommended mr. mortenson for the pakistani star of service, which is a huge honor in pakistan conferred by president zardari on mr. mortenson. i read his two books and i am familiar with his work.
what he brings to the u.s.-pakistan relationship is the human dimension. pakistan is a nation of 180 million people. half that population is below the age of 18, and greg mortenson stays engaged with these people, teach the children, when you go in to build a school you have no enemies. it's when you are talking only politics and military strategy that you actually have people who disagree with you. so embrace the people, and that is what will win hearts and minds. that's what makes greg mortenson important to us and that's what makes him a figure who is appreciated in pakistan and hopefully, increasingly, appreciated in the united states. >> charlie: thank you for that segue. again, thank you. we'll be back in a moment. stay with us. we continue looking at the afghan war with greg mortenson. he wrote the best-selling book "three cups of tea" about his
life building schools for girls in the remotest villages of pakistan and afghanistan but "the new york times" calls him an unlikely tutor to the u.s. military in afghanistan. "mr. mortenson who for a time lived out of his car in berkeley, california has spoeng at dozen of military bases, seen his books on required reading lists for military commanders and had lunch with general david petraeus. he was recently in florida at centcom headquarters and met with the head of special operations command. his new book is "stones into schools, promoting peace with books not bombs in afghanistan and pakistan." here is our conversation with him, taped yesterday. a pleasure to meet you. very much so. for a man who tries to scale k-2 and find himself in a village of people who bring him back, so to speak and then -- pick up the story. >> 1993, i went to k-2 -- i went
there in honor of my sister krista who died from epilepsy, to honor her, i got within 600 meters of the summit, didn't quite make it to the top so i came off the mountain and i was very weak and emaciated and i walked five days and i stumbled into a little village called korfe where i was befriended by the people and they nursed me back to help. as i was recovering i walked behind the village and saw 84 children sitting in the dirt doing their school lessons with sticks in the sand, and although i grew up in tanzaniaia for 15 years and seen a lot of poverty -- i grew up in tanzania for 15 years and seen a lot of poverty, i promised i would help them build a school and that was kind of the beginning of the last 17
years. >> charlie: that's the story you you told in "three cups of tea." >> "three cups of tea" is more about the lessons learned, the first cup you're a stranger, the second cup you're a friend and the third cup you're family. for family, you're prepared to do anything, even die. for the next book i just wrote last year "stones into schools" is more focused on afghanistan, about my relationship with the military, it's also about the earthquake in pakistan and also some of the lessons i had learned from my father who set up a hospital in tanzania. he worked mr. 1958 until 1972 to get the hospital started -- he worked from 1958 until 1972 to get the hospital started but he insisted on having africans in charge which didn't set well with the americans and the europeans. he made a speech at the inauguration along with julius nirari, the revolutionary leader, he predicted in a decade
all the department heads would be from tanzania and basically he lost his job for having the audacity to believe that africans could run the hospital. my father came back to the united states and died from cancer but 10 years later we got the report and the department heads were from tanzania. i'm trying to learn the lessons from my father and even general petraeus who said this is more about listening than anything else and building relationships with the people of afghanistan. >> charlie: what i like about your father is he said "it's more important that you do than what you say." >> exactly. >> charlie: as people say, "go do it." there is this about when general mcchrystal was flying back, you received an email before he was fired but within nine hours of the time saying what to you? >> he said -- i had just sent him a note that i had appreciated his efforts and i
looked forward to having tea with him in a couple of weeks. i didn't know that he was going to get canned. and he quickly -- he sent me a reply saying that -- he mentioned it was a difficult time and he also said, "no matter what happens and what the outcome of this is," as he was flying to see president obama, he said, "it gives me great courage to know that there are people like you who are really helping the afghan people for the long-term solutions and long-term situation." and i received it about 1:30 in the morning, and it was -- i really hadn't thought the fact that he might be terminated -- even though what had happened in "the rolling stone" article, and over the last year, as soon as he replaced general mckier nan, who also was fired, -- mckiernan who also was fired he asked me
and several people, to set up meetings. we have really great relationships with many of the elders in the 34 provinces in afghanistan, and an elder is kind of like you, charlie -- an elder -- they're not elected but they're poets, they're warriors, humanitarians and they have integrity and every province has 50 to 200 elders, and so we were very honored to do that, and i should have a disclaimer that i did this solely voluntarily. i don't receive any money, no federal money -- >> charlie: no military money? >> no military money. it was the same thing. the elders also wanted to meet with the -- they call it sitara, the generals, so they were very eager to come to kabul, three days, on their own volition and expenses and there was -- we facilitated about three dozen meetings, with general mcchrystal and his advisory team
who, by the way, weren't the team that he was with on his paris trip. these are people who are in kabul 24/7, including his chief advisor, conditional colenda. >> charlie: you and colonel colenda -- >> colonel colenda is probably -- as you said, actions count so he was one of the first military commanders to put coin or counter insurgency from the manual into action in that ri district in north kunar province from 2007 to 2008, and he really changed the district around. had to do with dozens of meetings with the elders in the area. when he first came there, it was very volatile. the taliban were everywhere. there was also the shadow government. by the time he left, 16 months later, they had completely changed around, and it's still that way today -- we have 11 schools also in that district.
general petraeus -- he was -- i never heard once from him or any of his team any derogatory remarks. he's known for his fierce reputation as a warrior, but he is also an incredible listener. he is very culturally savvy. like in pashto, or tribal culture, there are certain places where you would sit or i would sit or how i walk behind you or hand you a cup of tea or you should always have -- the host should drink first to show that the tea is not poisoned, so he knew all these thing and he befriended many of the top elders, and they trusted him, so they were fairly devastated when he was replaced -- regardless of general petraeus's reputation, they had the reputation with general mcchrystal. >> charlie: what's important here and the reason the military
wants to talk to you and has developed this respect and friendship with you and listened to you is because you seem to, on the ground, understand the way the afghan culture and society works. what is it about it that we ought to know? what is the role of the elders? >> the elders -- first of all, they're very good people, and one of the things that i think the taliban and other groups have done is they're very deliberately trying to drive a wedge into society by destroying the relationship between the elders and the youth -- the kids are taken out and indoctrinated and put in very isolated conditions. the other thing is that traditionally, the elders have been the power in the country -- the integrity, back for 2,000 years. one of the things that happened after 9/11 -- in -- november 2001 was the bond conference,
countries made pledges and decided how to rebuild the country, it was set up as a very centralized, deprovincialized type of system and in afghanistan, that goes contrary to the credibility of the elders so we completely disavowed the elders in that process. there was a similar model after world war ii, the marshall plan especially in italy, the marshall plan was a brilliant plan especially in italy because it was provincialized and decentralized, so we flipped that completely around. in afghanistan, also, the elders -- when you have -- you need the consensus of the elders in order to do anything, also. the elders also have -- they still have the credibility -- the central government is not delivering what they need, and the things that the elders -- >> charlie: and the corruption
and other things that drive them between the elders and -- >> between the elders and the national government, or outside interests. the elders also -- when we set up a school, we meet with them, we put them in charge, and then we provide skilled labor, materials and teacher training. but the community and the elders have to recip rotate with free manual labor, free land, and -- reciprocate with free manual labor, free land and resources -- it becomes a 50-50 arrangement. what the elders were telling general mcchrystal and his team -- i was with mcchrystal five meetings and i was at a dozen meetings -- the other two dozen were with our team and his advisor team. the first thing they said is "please do not bomb and kill civilians." that was their number one request. number two, they were saying "we want to be involved in the
decision-making process." they were very angry that the government was totally making decisions. it was rather interesting that two months ago president obama had a meeting at the white house. he asked to be advised on what are the elders saying but ironically he asked the military and the n.s.a. to do that. i would like to have had a skype. >> charlie: he asked people in washington what the elders were saying and the people who knew what the elders were saying was -- >> ironically, the military. a month later, a copycat meeting june 2nd to 4th where president hamid karzai summoned about 1,800 elders to kabul called the peace jurga. he was asking the elders their consensus on the process of how to stabilize and rebuild -- or how to stabilize the country. so it's been only very recently that the elders have been involved. the other things the elders are saying is "we want education."
they also -- there is also differences. some elders from, like, rizgan process and rizguristan want to be armed. other provinces are not asking for arms. there is mostly the message from kabul and the u.s. government we are want going to rearm the locals. >> charlie: general petraeus seems to be changing that. >> about 10,000 militia will be armed. the best example is nuristan where general mcchrystal had a lot of meetings with the elders and his team. they had been trying to empower them. there was a lot of forward operating bases there that were a lot of fire. they were pulled recently. but part of the process was to empower the elders. two days ago -- the irony was general mcchrystal met with the
nuristan shura on saturday. he left kabul on a tuesday. they had a great meeting and he was telling them, "we have to pull out so you are going to have to maintain peace there. but he also said, "i can't give you arms right now" but they were really clamoring for them. by saturday, after he was fired, the nuristan elders met with the taliban. >> charlie: the taliban? >> the elders. said that this was a seamless transition from their perspective, they had lost all contact with the high command who had befriended them and part of their role was survival. it doesn't matter so much who you affiliate with, it's your relationships that are going to eventually secure who you are
going to be -- who you're going to work with. >> charlie: listen to this. this is a tape of an interview i did with general mcchrystal, december 9, 2009, talking about the elders. here it is. >> the concept of long-term strategic partnership is critical. when i go down into remote areas, i'll be asked by elders, "are you going to stay?" and i will respond, "yes, we will, along with our afghan brothers, we'll stay and provide security" and they will come back with the response, "you didn't stay last time." >> charlie: what do you say? what's the difference? >> that is where you try to communicate to them that we have a partnership with afghanistan. we don't have a short-term effort that we are going to meet our needs and then leave. and, of course, they're waiting to see what we do, not what we say. >> charlie: your thoughts? there was general mcchrystal and the elders.
i don't understand why they want to be with the taliban. >> i have seen the taliban over 17 -- since 1996 -- well, 1994, actually -- they have become more criminal. they're losing tside funding from saudi arabia, yemen -- so they have had to resort more to criminal activity, extortion, kidnapping, illicit lumber trafficking, heroin trafficking, also the taliban are very factionallized and i think in the west we often perceive them as this monolithic entity. there is also a differentiation between more the older, ideological taliban and some of the newer taliban like the haqqani network or the hikmanchur network, a week ago we had 11 of our workers kidnapped by the taliban in logar province which is near
where these two american soldiers had been kidnapped or killed, and our leader -- our manager, waqil within a few hours met with the elders in the province and they assurrender that the taliban who kidnapped our 11 workers -- they ascertained that the taliban who kidnapped our workers were basically outsiders, so they contacted the haqqani taliban, it's local, it's their turf, within 20 hours the workers were released unharmed, we obviously wouldn't pay any money for them but it had to do with their knowledge of how the factionallized taliban groups are within that province. these two american soldiers who were kidnapped or killed three days ago -- they were in chark, which is in southern kuinar, a dangerous network.
you have to understand how complex it is. it isn't just taliban. it's a very complex network and people resent the taliban. the people want education. they want peace. they want stability. but when there is a void and the taliban come in, often at gunpoint and they say, "we want five goats a week and we want 50 men and we want our dishes washed and we need a place to sleep, and if you don't cooperate we're going to start messing with you," and like for example, i have been criticized because i help the military, but i also get criticized here because we meet with the taliban sometimes. >> charlie: yeah. what do they say to you when you meet with them? >> they say, "as long as your schools are not propagating anything about western ideology, we teach arabic in our schools, we also teach english, we teach pashto, we teach dari which is required by the government --
>> charlie: you speak five languages -- >> i don't have any problem with it. >> charlie: ok. so is this winnable as the president defines winning? >> winnable to me is when the afghan people themselves can determine and run their country and their destiny. it's not about helping them. it's about empowering them. there is a little bit of a difference -- winnable to me, for example, when i have talked to admiral mullen or general petraeus or mcchrystal, they will tell you there is no military solution to this country. it's got to be a much broader solution. and i think in many ways our -- the u.s. and our government -- our leaders are putting far too much emphasis on the military to solve all our problems. we expect our soldiers to be warriors, diplomats and humanitarians, which -- >> charlie: and teachers. >> and teachers. to me, it's impossible -- i'm just a humanitarian.
i have enough to do -- >> charlie: using the definition that you success, empowering the afghans, is that doable within a time frame before the taliban take over? >> i think so. one example is called a national solidarty program. this is -- it's a government agency but it's pretty much run in the provinces. it's humanitarian work. very, very successful program. it's run entirely by the afghan people. there is the other example where the two best -- or maybe i would say -- the u.s.-aid programs that are working there in jalala bad, an agricultural program, another program in kandahar run by the local people. i also -- as you are aware, we have 100,000 troops in
afghanistan, roughly, u.s. soldiers, 35,000 ice africa coalition troops, 90,000 afghan troops, 230,000 troops because an estimated 30,000 taliban. we outnumber them 8-1 not only in firepower but with the $100 billion budget and everything. obviously, what we're doing is not really working. >> charlie: what do you think of president karzai? >> president karzai -- i have met with him a couple of times, and he's very committed to -- i think helping the country. he's also -- he's got a brother in kandahar who is very deep involved in corruption. and i also think -- >> charlie: why does he tolerate that? >> people disagree with me, but in afghanistan and pakistan, if i ask you or you ask me who i am, i would probably say i'm an
american and then i might say i'm a norwegian lutheran. >> charlie: he might say he's a pashtan. >> in afghanistan or pakistan people first tell you they're sunni or shia then they identify by tribal affiliation and third of all they might say i'm an afghan. so they're willing to die for their faith, they're willing to die for their tribal affiliation but as far as their country, that's another story. you've got to really think about going out and dying for your country. >> charlie: after all the amount of money that we have spent there and the lives that have been lost there, should we stay? >> i think we could stay, but not necessarily with the military, and i also think we need to look at more a longer-term solution -- for example, it cost a million dollars per soldier per year. to deploy troops there. they've just discovered, in
afghanistan -- or they knew about it -- a trillion dollars of mineral resources. why aren't we pulling about 50 troops and building a school of mines in afghanistan so that in 20 years the russians, iranians or even the west can't exploit the country? at the recent conference in kabul, the kabul conference attended by 60 countries, the minister of higher education -- or the education minister, faruq wardak asked for $260 million to completely refurbish or enhance the higher education system in afghanistan -- 246 troops. i talked to him, and he thinks he might get $50 million. i also think the irony is many of our troops now have been in afghanistan for three or five
times, like the tenth mountain division and i really think they get it, and i think they realize that there is no military solution so they're really invested in trying to come up with other solutions in the country. >> charlie: it seems to me this is like one of those situations in which everybody now knows what they have to do but they don't know if it's possible. >> i think one of general mcchrystal's legacies is that the elders really felt that we were there to listen and help them. although he was called the architect of the kandahar operation -- operational mid, which means hope in pashto, which was supposed to materialize this summer, he, by his means with the elders, advised not to do this operation, and then when he was replaced, general petraeus -- there was some talk of starting
the operation right away, but i noticed, now, three days ago, that whole operation has been called off and there is emphasis -- >> charlie: you're saying mcchrystal was listening to the elders -- >> they said do not do this now, they said, "you don't have the relationships. we need to galvanized people and find out if that's right." so he put in a very strong appeal to delay the operation. and i think our political leaders, because they had listened to mcchrystal and deployed 30,000 more troops, they wanted something to happen, so it's -- i think it's really -- the elders felt that for the first time they really have been involved in a very big decision there not to do this operation right now. >> charlie: so somebody is listening to them. >> this is a really golden window to really opportunize on
what happened to not do an operation there. >> charlie: what do you make of the release of all of these documents about afghanistan? taken from people on the ground through 2009? >> i think that the public in the u.s. yearns and needs to know about what's really going on in afghanistan and pakistan, and so there is maybe some security interest, but also we have been there 10 years. we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars. and the thing that i would like -- i wish it would have been in those leaks is the fact that in afghanistan, today, there are over eight million children in school and 10 years ago there was 800,000 children in school, something nobody in the u.s. is aware of and 2.5 million of those are females and i really think one of their greatest hopes for the future is specifically in education. >> charlie: "three cups of tea,