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Neither protests nor military is threat to Pakistan government, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif says

September 2nd, 2014
08:56 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

With the military on the streets of Islamabad trying to restore order amid protests calling for the resignation of Pakistan’s prime minister, that country’s defense minister says that neither the protesters nor the military poses a threat.

“There is absolutely no threat,” Khawaja Asif told CNN’s Michael Holmes, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday. “The government was never under threat. It's just a perception. We still enjoy overwhelming majority in the parliament.”

“These protesters and their leaders, they claim that they have the support of the Pakistan Army or the intelligence agencies, which is totally incorrect.”

“It is purely a political dispute.”

Two separate groups of protesters are camped out at Pakistan’s parliament, calling on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. He was elected just last year, and took office in the country’s first-ever democratic transition of power.


Filed under:  Latest Episode • Pakistan

Pakistan's cultural crisis

September 1st, 2014
11:04 AM ET

It's a crisis that's become a norm to many in Pakistan, but for documentary maker Jamie Doran the sexual abuse of young boys was a tragedy hidden from vision.

As his new film, 'Pakistan's hidden shame', begins to make waves in country's like Japan and Australia, the Director told Christiane Amanpour what puts children at risk in Pakistan and around the world.

"Pedophiles by their very nature are inadequate, it's about power over children."

"Where these individuals are able to use and abuse vulnerable children, Pakistan in particular because of the poverty. That's one of the other factors that really plays here."

The film's release in Britain coincides with a horrifying report released from the Northern English town of Rotherham detailing the abuse, grooming and trafficking of 1,400 girls by Pakistani gangs.

"Culturally they're the same," Doran told the program. "In Pakistan you're having the abuse of young boys, largely because young girls aren't available, and in the UK that's different. If you really delve in to the reasons behind this you will find in such societies the role of women is so meager their power is almost non-existent and every survey in recent times has linked the lack of female power to pedophilia."

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Film • Pakistan

Former Pakistani foreign minister: 'Pakistan is still beaten and bruised'

June 5th, 2014
02:20 PM ET

By Henry Hullah, CNN

The first female foreign minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar's country and the region surrounding it has become entrenched in international condemnation as a stream of crimes committed against women are coming to light.

In particular, so-called "honor killings" are taking place on a large scale in Pakistan, with 869 committed in 2013 alone.

"I would say that the whole question of honor as being the protection of the men's honor as against the woman's life and the woman's honor," Khar says, "So the question of honor is actually the honor of the man."

"Therefore a lot of legislation is required."


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • India • Latest Episode • Pakistan

Pakistan charting new path of non-interference, says de-facto foreign minister

March 14th, 2014
12:15 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Pakistan is charting a new future of non-interference with its neighbors, that country’s national security adviser and de facto foreign minister Sartaj Aziz told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“Our policy – Pakistan’s policy – is non-interference and no favorite,” Aziz told Amanpour in London.

Pakistan supported the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s, thinking that the radical group would serve as a bulwark against India, Pakistan’s long-time enemy.

“Afghan has been a theater of great power rivalries, great power games for a long time,” he said. “One of the apprehensions of the Afghan government and President Karzai was the Taliban have a better chance because Pakistan is supporting them, and we have convinced him that is not in our security interest.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Pakistan

Taliban attack on Malala showed Pakistanis ‘who these people really are,’ Hina Rabbani Khar tells Amanpour

October 8th, 2013
05:25 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The attempted Taliban assassination of Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old girl who advocated for girls’ education, drew a line in the sand between extremism and progressivism, former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“The contrast is so overwhelming,” she said, “that in some ways it helps Pakistanis, and it reminds Pakistanis, to who these people really are, and the fact that we cannot have Pakistan be taken over by such thought and such people.”

Wednesday marks one year since the Pakistani Taliban boarded Yousafzai’s school bus, singled her out by name, and shot her in the head – a response, ostensibly, to her public advocacy for girl’s education.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Pakistan

Pakistan: Now comes the hard part

May 13th, 2013
04:46 PM ET

In a historic election – the country's first handover of power from one elected government to the next – Pakistanis have chosen to return Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to power.

In the video above, Christiane Amanpour speaks with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S., about what the election means and the challenges facing the new government.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Pakistan

Pakistanis to vote despite violence

May 9th, 2013
03:59 PM ET

CNN's Christiane Amanpour examines violence in Pakistan just ahead of the country's first ever democratic transition of power.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Pakistan

Will Imran Khan’s dramatic fall affect his campaigning?

May 7th, 2013
04:09 PM ET

CNN's Christiane Amanpour looks at how Imran Khan's dramatic fall might affect his ability to campaign just ahead of Pakistani elections.

Filed under:  Pakistan

Inside America’s most dysfunctional relationship

February 21st, 2013
01:54 PM ET

By Samuel Burke & Ken Olshansky, CNN

Before the raid on the Abbottabad complex where Osama bin Laden lived and died, then U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter’s main concern was for the American community overseas.

“We didn't know what the response would be. I spent a lot of time talking with our team about how we would take care of the people in the embassy and the Americans overseas.”

Did he suspect that the Pakistani government and military would be so enraged?  FULL POST

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Pakistan

Pakistan’s protest preacher

January 16th, 2013
07:23 PM ET

Pakistani FM discusses political turmoil

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar discusses her country's political turmoil with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.


Pakistan's protest preacher

Islamic cleric Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri discusses the protests he is leading in Pakistan with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

Pakistan revolution or political theater? 

 By Samuel Burke, CNN

Every time the world’s attention turns to Pakistan, it seems like another wheel has fallen off the bus.

The country is seeing a new wave of suicide bombings and Taliban threats, while new tensions with neighboring India have arisen once again over Kashmir.

Last week brought some of Pakistan’s worst-ever sectarian violence. In just one day a series of bomb blasts killed nearly 100 people in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood.

Now a fiery Islamic preacher is drawing large crowds of protestors with his calls to fight Pakistan’s endemic corruption.

Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri gained prominence with his fatwa against terrorism in 2010.

Last month, massive crowds in Pakistan followed the 61-year-old cleric from Lahore to Islamabad. Now,  tens of thousands of followers  are  camped out around him at the doorstep of the country’s parliament.

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour  on Wednesday from the bulletproof container from which he preaches, ul-Qadri said that his aim is to make the democratic process more “free and fair.”

He denied accusations that he is putting Pakistan’s upcoming elections in jeopardy, saying that this is “the most appropriate time” for him to take up his cause.

The country is poised for its first-ever democratic handover of power from one civilian government to another.

Ul-Qadri also denied allegations about the opaque source of his funding. In addition to his protests, commercials with his image are running on Pakistani television. Many suspect he is backed by the military.

“I have no connection with the military establishment,” he said indignantly.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar dismissed ul-Qadri as a “non entity” in a separate interview with Amanpour on Wednesday.

“30,000 people is no big deal,” Khar told Amanpour. Pakistan has a population of over 176 million people.

She acknowledged that corruption is a concern for the government, but said ul-Qadri lacks credibility.

“This character has launched himself in Pakistan to deliver the Pakistanis from their own elected leaders,” she said.

Khar said that a date for elections will be called before March 16, and then occur some 60 to 90 days after.

Khar also expressed uncertainty about the source of ul-Qadri’s funding, but pointed out that the military issued a statement distancing itself from him.

“There are all sorts of conspiracy theories about him, but he does have an organization which is very well organized,” Khar said.

She does not think, however, that a coup is likely, despite the attention on ul-Qadri.

“That would be the worst case-scenario,” she told Amanpour. “I would not worry about it because Pakistan has now become a civil society.”

India and Pakistan’s border

There has been a recent outbreak of border violence and military tensions over Kashmir, but it appears that one of the worst flare-ups since a ceasefire was signed nine years ago might now deescalate.

“The best way to deal with this – rather than raising the rhetoric and any sort of negative commentary – is for a political-level discussion,” Khar told Amanpour. “I am open to dialogue with the Foreign Minister of India. I invite him for a dialogue at the political level so we can resolve the cross-LoC (line of control) issue, the crossfire issue, and to ensure that we continue to respect the ceasefire. This is crucial.”

Constant attacks against Shiite minority

Human Rights Watch says more than 400 Shiites were slaughtered in 2012.

In the most recent attacks against Shiites, the victims’ families refused to bury their dead until the government addressed their concerns.

“The government needs to step up the game. There’s no question about it,” Khar said, but stressed that tensions between Shiite and Sunni are not as deeply rooted in Pakistan as they are in other Muslim countries.

“In my school, in the parliament, in my workplace I don’t know who is Shiia or Sunni. For the broad majority of Pakistanis this is not an issue – ethnicity is not an issue. However there are these fringe elements who will try and make it an issue and create chaos through it,”

Khar said that the government needs to give the minority group additional protection, adding that the focus will be to go after the groups that are attacking the Shiite minority.

Pakistani leader meets protesting families of bombing victims

CNN’s Juliet Fuisz produced this piece for television.

Filed under:  Latest Episode • Pakistan
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