Current State in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
CHARLIE ROSE: Richard Holbrooke is here. He is the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. As the Afghan War enters its ninth year there are growing concerns about the U.S. involvement. NBC News and the "Wall Street Journal" released a survey yesterday that public support for President Obama’s handling of the war has dropped to 43 percent down from 53 percent in March.
The killing of ten aide workers earlier this month was a reminder of the tragedy of this war and doubts about President Hamid Karzai’s commitment to fighting corruption continue. In neighboring Pakistan floods have killed close to 2,000 people and affected 14 million. And the relationship between Pakistan’s chief intelligence agency and the Taliban were raised again with the release of military documents by WikiLeaks.
I am pleased to have Ambassador Holbrookee back at this table. Welcome.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Good to be with you again, Charlie.
CHARLIE ROSE: Give us a sense of the Afghan situation today.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: OK, I’ll be happy to. But I will say that today, and I was at meetings with the White House by television, Pakistan and the floods is our main focus because 14 million to 20 million people are in tremendous danger.
Of course, Afghanistan and Pakistan have always been closely related. From the day Pakistan became independent they’ve had a bad relationship. And now we’re in a situation where the sanctuary for the Taliban in Pakistan poses the most serious of all hurdles to our objectives in Afghanistan, and also endangers our national security.
That’s why we’re in the region with combat troops in Afghanistan, and with massive aid, economic and military in Pakistan.
When you say where are we, I think the American public has a pretty good idea. We’re engaged in a tremendous and, I think, highly consequential conflict in Afghanistan. We’re following a strategy devised by General Petraeus and his colleagues, counterinsurgency, which involves a combined civilian military approach to the issues.
General Petraeus now is commanding a force that is still growing in size, headed to about 100,000 Americans, plus our allies, plus the Afghan forces. That force will -- has done great damage to the Taliban. I have absolutely no doubt about it. I’ve seen the intelligence. They are under increasing pressure.
At the same time the Taliban is a resilient organization with -- with, as I said already, this sanctuary in Pakistan. So it depends in the end on the ability of the Afghan Government to have a police and military which can take care of its own security as the international forces gradually leave the country over time.
That process will begin as the president announced December 1st in his West Point speech in July of next year. So that’s where we are.
And the key in my mind to everything in the end will be our ability to train the army and the police. And that’s a difficult, difficult
process, but it is essential. And the president is personally focused on every detail of that. We spent a great deal of time on it on our briefings.
One last point, we have a superb three-star general in Kabul, William Caldwell who now runs a unified training command with all our NATO allies. Until Caldwell got there, until we reformed the structure, there was for seven years, if you can believe it, there was no unified effort to train.
The international training efforts were scattered and there was no literacy training even though the police were 80, 88 percent illiterate. You can’t have an illiterate police force. You can’t have policeman who can’t read an I.D. card. And yet this is how the money was spent.
So even though everyone points out that this now in the ninth year of a long war, the fact is that in the training effort, until Bill Caldwell got there, very little was there to show for it. And this is a very serious problem given the importance of that issue.
CHARLIE ROSE: Just for my clarification, what is your responsibility?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: The president announced on his third day in office when he came over to the State Department and announced my appointment with Vice President Biden and secretary of Clinton, that I would be the counterpart to the CENTCOM commander who was then David Petraeus. Now it is James Madus as Petraeus went on to Afghanistan for civilian efforts.
I joked at the time that General Petraeus had more airplanes than I had telephones because the military is the overwhelming preponderance of the assets. However, we all agree that governance, corruption, building up the agricultural sector, dealing with drugs, rule of law, those are issues which will determine the outcome just as much as military operations.
Those operations are coordinated in Washington by my office. We have ten different agencies in that office. It’s a multiagency office that reports through me to the Secretary of State and through Hillary to the President. There has never been an office like this in the State Department. It covers both countries. Those countries were moved from the regular regional bureau to report to me and then to Hillary and the President.
Now, one other key point about this, and there’s been a misunderstanding. It’s not our job in Washington to do the job. Our job
is to get the other people in the agencies to work together to do their jobs both in Washington and in the field.
It is Ambassador Eikenberry’s responsibility in the field to coordinate these things, and that embassy reports to the Secretary of State through our office.
CHARLIE ROSE: What’s the difference in doing what you are trying to do and nation building?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, what I am do something coordinating the agencies. "Nation-building" has become a loaded word for some people. But I need to be very clear on this. We’re not nation-building. Afghanistan is a nation. It’s been a nation for centuries.
We are helping them rebuild institutions that were torn apart over 32 years of war after war after war. And nation-building with all its connotations just doesn’t fit. Afghans know --
CHARLIE ROSE: Why doesn’t it fit? Nation-building does not have to do with an expisting --
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Because the Afghans know they are a nation.
CHARLIE ROSE: Of they are. But nation-building by the definition I understand has to do with improving the capacity of a nation to function as a more effective nation. It to the going, creating some new nation where there was not one. It may be helping build political structures, civil structures, police, those kinds of things, which you said were your responsibility. That’s the goal.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: My responsibility is to coordinate those efforts. AID has the money. The Embassy has the coordinating responsibility in the field.
But when I resist the phrase "nation-building" as you used it is simple. We are institution rebuilding, we are nation rebuilding. This country was torn apart. Even the United States in 1865 was a nation splintered and it took awhile to rebuild. But in 1865 the war ended and we never had another war. In Afghanistan one war ended, the next one began, then the Taliban came in. Then to replace the second war after the Taliban came the United States, because of 9/11.
This country has had a series of mishaps, tragedies, and challenges that even for any other country would have been unimaginable. But this is the poorest non-African country in the world. And it needs the outside world’s help desperately.
CHARLIE ROSE: Everybody, I think you included and certainly the President said, in the end there is not a military solution to this.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: We absolutely agree on that.
CHARLIE ROSE: And the solution to this is building up the Afghan state so that they can defend themselves against Taliban, and therefore the Taliban don’t take over and make it a haven for Al Qaeda or anybody else.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Absolutely correct, but with two critical points I want to underscore.
Number one, we cannot repeat the 1989 mistake, the catastrophic mistake that when the Soviet Union was through, the west turned its back, the U.S. turned its back on Afghanistan which led the Pakistanis to say wait a second, we better get an insurance policy. And that insurance policy was known as the Taliban. That’s point number one.
Point number two, after the combat troops leave, the U.S. and the NATO and other combat troops leave, the world community led by the United States will have to have a continued commitment of economic and development aid and aid to the security assistance forces. The president, Hillary, myself, Bob Gates, we’ve all said that.
Let us be very clear. This is a long-term commitment just as the United States stepped up to the plate in Korea when the fighting stopped in 1953 with aid and kept military troops there to this day but without fighting. So I want to be very clear on what it is that will require stability in the region.
And finally, and most importantly, our enemy is Al Qaeda. And they lurk across the border in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the very areas that have been just hit by the floods. The point I want to make is there are about five of our most dangerous bad guy groups all grouped in this area in Pakistan where the floods are going on now.
Al Qaeda targeting the U.S., Britain, et cetera. You have the Afghan Taliban, their expeditionary force in Afghanistan closely allied. You have the Pakistani Taliban. Now the Pakistani Taliban targets the Pakistanis, but the Times Square bomber went and got trained, luckily badly trained, by the Pakistani Taliban. That’s three.
Fourth, you have the infamous Haqqani group, a ruthless separate group focused in north Waziristan, which is in Pakistan but raids all the way into Kabul.
CHARLIE ROSE: Fair enough.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Finally, the last group, just so that your viewers get the complexity of the situation, is a group that the Americans don’t pay any attention to called the LET, but the Indians sure play pay attention because it is the LET who attacked Mumbai in December of 2008.
CHARLIE ROSE: And their all based in Pakistan.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: All based in Pakistan and they’re all based in an area roughly the size of California in the tribal areas.
If that enemy -- so to get back to your core question, as the -- as we diminish our combat troops over time according to the conditions, we have to retain the residual capability to strike at these groups while we build up the Afghan security forces.
The sequencing and the level and pace of all that is something that the president will determine after he holds his policy review later this year in December, and then he will examine the conditions and the president will decide. But the general structure of what we are do is very clear, it seems to me.
CHARLIE ROSE: OK, are you convinced that President Karzai is committed to doing something about corruption?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: My colleagues and I have talked with President Karzai many, many times about this issue. And it’s no secret that it is widely believed, and I share this belief, that corruption is the levels it now exists in Afghanistan -- of course corruption has always been an issue in societies like Afghanistan. There’s corruption everywhere in the world.
But corruption at the current levels as perceived by the Afghan public is a serious advantage to the Taliban. It’s one of their main recruiting tools. And therefore the American Government and our allies at every level has talked about this with President Karzai and members of his government.
All I can tell you is what President Karzai has said publicly and privately. He knows it’s a problem. He set up these anti-corruption task forces. He’s working with us. We’re giving him advice. Since this Administration took office we have made this a primary priority.
CHARLIE ROSE: Is this a fair statement -- "Ambassador Holbrooke is satisfied with President Karzai’s efforts to root out corruption in Afghanistan"?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: No, even President Karzai says he’s not satisfied.
CHARLIE ROSE: With his efforts?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: No, we, nobody in the U.S. Government feels that we have reached the goal on corruption. President Karzai himself has said to me and to other senior American officials that he knows it’s a huge problem and he wants to do more about it. He has said he’s committed.
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you believe him?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: We can only judge by the events. They have upgraded the high commission on oversight, the major anti-corruption group. They set up the major crimes task force and the sensitive investigative unit. They have arrested a lot of people.
But the corruption levels remain very high and everyone is concerned about it, including President Karzai. Are we satisfied? Of course not.
CHARLIE ROSE: Does it stand in the way of you doing and wanting to achieve the objectives you have in the civilian area?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Does it stand in the way? You know, the way you phrase it, I’m going to say no because we have to continue the other things. Agriculture, our highest non-security priority, training the police and the army, and trying to get the police to be less corruption. They’ve been a huge problem.
And policing ourselves, Charlie. Look, the major source, or a major source, to be more precise, a major source of the opportunity for corruption is the international presence and especially these huge contracts for private security firms, for trucking, for logistics, for the goods that come up for Karachi over the Kaibur pass and into Afghanistan and down to Kandahar. These are huge problems.
General Petraeus has set up a task force called Task Force 2010 simply to focus on the American procurement contracts and their relationship to corruption. All of this is new.
I know the American public is saying, you know, we’ve been in this war for all these years. All we can say is we took office only 17, 18 months ago. We inherited things which even I, and I have been a long time critic of operations, found stunning and the illiteracy of the police, the lack of attention to corruption.
Now David Petraeus who is a great general and a very, and somebody I feel very close to, I have been his counterpart for all these months and still working closely with him on a daily basis, David is focused on this stuff and really drilling down. Our staff is. Our treasury and FBI people, DEA people work on it nonstop.
But it is a continuing issue. And let nobody watching your program tonight think other than corruption is an ongoing struggle in which we will not relent on because it’s so important.
I need to be clear. No one person in Afghanistan could personally end a problem this deep in the culture and the history of the country. The question is it reaches levels which are incompatible with the goals that both President Karzai and President Obama have. And it is on those grounds that we jointly work on it.
We’ll never be satisfied. It’s an ongoing struggle. That is true in every country.
CHARLIE ROSE: All right, on the ground in Afghanistan -- in the end was Marjah successful as a military situation.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: I was in Marjah three weeks ago -- very dramatic trip because our Osprey got hit coming in and there were some people in the marketplace who had designs on us but we never got to the marketplace because our schedule changed.
In Marjah the U.S. and the NATO command, British particularly went into an extremely difficult area. But one that had had a long pro-American tradition in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. They were greeted as liberators. Thank you, you’re back. We remember the Americans. We want agriculture, we want security, we want roads, we want culverts, we want seeds.
With the troops came our civilians. We have some of the bravest civilians, unarmed, working these streets -- they’re not even streets, they’re just dust bowls in Marjah. The dust is so fine in Marjah that it gets through every mesh have you ever seen. It is astonishing and it is hot down there, and these joint civilian military teams are extraordinary.
The process of bringing in the Afghan Government officials behind them is slow and difficult because of mobility. It’s really hard to move down there without security, secondly, because of where, the isolation of it. And it’s a dangerous area.
So the press reported that Marjah is a failure. What I would say is what General McChrystal said before he left, and what General Petraeus has said, that Marjah is a slow, difficult, work in process. But to say it is a failure would be to misread it. And to say it is a success would be to misstate it. It is a work in progress.
CHARLIE ROSE: Is it less than expected?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, you’ll have to ask the military for a very simple reason. It’s their operation. I’ll let them talk for themselves.
CHARLIE ROSE: Has the Kandahar mission, which has been delayed, been influenced by what, the success or lack of success in Marjah?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Again, since it’s a military operation I want to defer to David Petraeus, and I know you’re going to have him on your program soon. But on General McChrystal’s last day, last two days before he left Afghanistan, he and I went down to Kandahar, and with Ambassador Eikenberry and our aid people and we spent the whole day planning it.
And I think there was a big misunderstanding in Kandahar it was not Baghdad or Fallujah. It was a different kind of operation. And the military details of it -- served no purpose by going into them by in detail. But it was never going to be a huge force going into the city. The city is not held by the Taliban.
It’s a complicated, shadowy thing. There’s one district of it which the Taliban are dominant in, the central districts, our government. You can walk around them. Troops are coming in to create a security perimeter and then behind it have to come more services.
And the key service in David Petraeus’s mind is electricity. We have to bring more electricity to the people on a per capita basis every other city in Afghanistan has more electricity than Kandahar. So we have to show that services come with it.
CHARLIE ROSE: What’s the difference between counterinsurgency and counterterrorism?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: It’s a very perceptive, should I say typically perceptive question after all these years of doing your program. I think this is 20 years since you and I first did this.
CHARLIE ROSE: The very first one we did, we did our very first national broadcast.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: With you, me, and Barbara Walters.
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: So this is a very interesting question for theorists. So I will give you the theory. Counterinsurgency, -- no, let me start with counter-terror. Counter-terror is just punching at the enemy. Boom, you hit them in the nose. You find the Taliban, you go after them with a night raid or a --
CHARLIE ROSE: It sounds like special ops to me, like what General McChrystal did in Iraq.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Exactly. Exactly right. And it takes less forces.
But it carries with it some downsides because you are focused only on very kinetic operations and you’re ignoring the population.
Counterinsurgency is a much more expansive theory in which the military forces create a security environment in which the government can provide its services and the people then rally to the government.
Now here’s the critical factor with counterinsurgency, and it goes back to earlier conversation about the police and the army.
Counterinsurgency only works when the security is undertaken by the local government. It can’t be forever the foreigners.
And I, you know, I lived all this in Vietnam, with the same theories in a very different environment against a very different enemy. And I’m not comparing the two except to say that I studied and lived this theory. And it will only work when the Afghans take over their own security responsibility because, as President Obama said in his West Point speech, our commitment in Afghanistan is not open-ended.
Now as far as Al Qaeda goes, wherever they are, the president has said repeatedly that he will strike at them when and where he needs to to protect our national security. As far as counterinsurgency goes and the Taliban, in Afghanistan, that is a different kind of proposition.
CHARLIE ROSE: I think the vice president has said we’re in Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, I’m not sure which quote are you talking about, but he -- but we, our goal in Afghanistan-Pakistan is to dismantle, destroy, and disperse Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that threaten the United States. And if you drop the additional phrase, which the President has said in every speech, then people get confused.
CHARLIE ROSE: All right this is the front page of the "Financial Times," "High profile U.S. aircraft to aid Pakistan flood relief effort." You just said that’s the thing that is on the minds of most people and the Pentagon and the President. What, tell us how severe these floods are and what the potential danger is.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: May I make a point about this picture?
CHARLIE ROSE: Sure.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: This picture which is from the back of a U.S. transport plane shows what looks like the Mississippi River. That --- two weeks ago that was a small stream through the town of Mingorha in the capital of swat. That town is now under that water. There are floods.
CHARLIE ROSE: So give a picture of the size of the floods, the historic dimension of these floods, and the danger they provide both in terms of human life but beyond that terms of other considerations.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: This is not just another flood in Asia, a headline which doesn’t get much attention here. This is the worst floods, monsoon floods in Pakistan’s history since well before independence. 1926 was the last thing this size.
Secondly, it looks like the area affected has at least 14 million to 20 million people in it. So far the death, that’s far more than the
tsunami and Haiti combined. The deaths are far less so far, thank god, about 2,000. But we don’t know what’s out there. And 14 million people are in harm away.
At least 350 bridges have been washed out. Nobody knows how many roads are gone but the roads in that picture are all gone. Schools, health clinics, homes, they’re all gone. The -- there’s talk now that cholera is beginning. Some of the natural gas fields are underwater and the gas to some of the major cities have stopped.
One city near the Indian border has been evacuated, 700,000 people. Hydrobad, almost 2 million people lies in the path of an ancient British era dam with some sluices that don’t work anymore. If that dam doesn’t hold this will be even more unbelievable. And I could go on and on.
It is an economic catastrophe, it’s a political catastrophe, and it has huge implication for us because it’s also in the area we’ve been talking about.
Petraeus sent two or three Chinooks immediately that started rescuing people. The USS Pelio is on the Karachi, I think it’s at the port now. Their helicopters have been deployed. The United States immediately gave about $70 million dollars in increasing. We’ve been going to country after country to get them to do more. The U.S. has done the bulk of the aid so far.
The U.N. put out an appeal yesterday for a half a billion dollars for starters, and that’s just the rescue phase. The reconstruction phase is going to be staggering. We’re -- we have -- we’re doing a worldwide appeal.
One of the things that’s kind of interesting is that we’ve done this new technology which we also did in Haiti where you can take your cell phone, text S-W-A-T for swat, S-W-A-T, and then send it to 50555. That will, and then you punch "yes" and that means $10.
But it’s interesting. When we did this for Haiti, we raised millions of dollars. When we did it for the Swat refugees last year we raised a couple million. So far we’ve raised very little until tonight. And I hope this program helps change it.
Why? Because people don’t relate to a flood the way they do to an earthquake or tsunami which hits then it’s over. The press comes in and does the incredible stories of rescuing people who have survived. Here the press can’t get in, Charlie. We don’t know what’s happening on the ground. All we have is aerial photos so far.
CHARLIE ROSE: Everybody should be doing everything they can. But it seems to me that with the United States having the kind of presence and commitment it has to Afghanistan and Pakistan, you know, it’s an opportunity to both do well and do good.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: We absolutely agree with you. And the President is very conscious of this. And we had a discussion of this in the White House.
CHARLIE ROSE: A very visible demonstration of America’s commitment to --
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Yes. My friend and colleague Tom Donilon, deputy national security advisor, chaired a meeting at the White House this morning and made that exact point. And we all are conscious of it.
We -- it’s very simple. If we do the right thing t will be good not only for the people whose lives we save but for the U.S. image in Pakistan. It’s simple.
CHARLIE ROSE: All right --
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: And so I’m focused only on the rescue mission and to get the word out. And the people of Pakistan will see that when the crisis hits as it did in 29005 earthquake, as it did last year in Swat, as it did again now, it’s not the Chinese. It’s not the Iranians. It’s not other countries. It’s not the EU. It’s the U.S. that always leads.
CHARLIE ROSE: What’s interesting, it is often as it was with the tsunami, it is an opportunity for the U.S. military which has the kinds of equipment that’s necessary, aircraft carriers and helicopters, to make a difference.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Absolutely. And nothing is as dramatic as a helicopter in a situation like that.
CHARLIE ROSE: All right. So you’re hopeful that the funds will be raised by this and that there will be more attention and there will be more direction.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: You know, there’s somewhere between a million and two million Pakistani Americans in this country. A lot of people can’t afford big contributions. And -- but if they feel moved by it, as so many of my friends do, $10 goes directly -- by the way, people ask me, that money goes into some corrupt situation. No. The money goes to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. I should have missed that.
CHARLIE ROSE: Let me talk about Pakistan. We had these WikiLeaks about ISI and the relationship to the Taliban. Tell me what you think the situation is today between ISI and the Taliban.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: I have to start by saying that all of us who served U.S. Government take a solemn oath of office. And the person or persons who gave that information out to the public violated that oath in the most egregious and self-serving way.
If they have a problem with policy, fine. Let them quit the government and state their dissents. But to leak stuff which could damage the national interest or more specifically endanger people’s lives is unconscionable.
Now on the specifics, I don’t know anyone who has read all 90,000 documents including, I’m sure, the leaker himself. But the stuff I’ve read is stuff I think everybody was aware of. It’s just a little bit of --
CHARLIE ROSE: But is it true today. They happened to raise it one more time of this link between ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, and the Taliban. Are they --
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, 90 percent of the documents --
CHARLIE ROSE: Is there a relationship that continues?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, 90 percent of the documents are in the previous administration’s watch. They allude to a pattern which has been well-discussed, a pattern which has concerned us, that we’ve discussed with the Pakistanis repeatedly.
CHARLIE ROSE: And how serious an issue is it in August of 2010?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: I’m not sure what "it" is.
CHARLIE ROSE: "It" is the relationship between ISI and the Taliban today, not what these documents showed last year in 2009, but today?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: We have -- we have continued to work with the Pakistanis to get them to work with us to do something about the Taliban in the sanctuaries. They have worked with us in regard -- remember the five groups I mentioned earlier. They’ve worked with us closely on going after the Pakistani Taliban.
And they’ve taken over 4,000 killed of their own troops in that fight, and we’ve assisted them in that and we’ve had a lot of success. That’s the group which trained the Times Square bomber. We worked with them very well on Al Qaeda.
We are making inroads in regard to the other groups, but it’s slow and tough going. They have a resource problem. A lot of their forces are still deployed against the larger country to the east. And they feel they don’t have enough resources. And now with the floods, everything is in suspension.
CHARLIE ROSE: Who is protecting Al Qaeda in north Waziristan?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: You know, I don’t know, and it’s a very good question. I’ve asked it too.
CHARLIE ROSE: What answer do you get when ask you it?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: The intelligence clarity on that is not, there’s an opacity to that issue.
CHARLIE ROSE: It’s opaque?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Yes, it is opaque to a certain extent. And furthermore, I don’t think I can go into classified material.
CHARLIE ROSE: I don’t want to you go into -- this seems like so fundamental. The Haqqani group network is very much involved with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, as you well know. They seem to have some special relationship within Pakistan. They have not seemed to be an object of intent by the Pakistani Government so far.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Let me try to be a little more clear because I don’t want to you think I’m trying to be evasive. There are a lot of things we don’t know. If we knew them we would have been more successful in finding bin Laden.
CHARLIE ROSE: Fair enough.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: That has been the case since 2001. But my impression reading the intelligence is that of the five groups I mentioned earlier, the one that’s most protecting Al Qaeda and helping the most is Haqqani group, and they, because they are up in the same general area.
CHARLIE ROSE: If the Pakistani Government was serious about doing something to in Waziristan, would they be going after the Haqqani network with more aggressive tactics than they are so far?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: With great respect I would rather just punt on that question for now, except to say, except to say that it is a matter of great concern to this administration and the subject of much discussion.
But this is the Pakistani military. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to General Kayani and to his colleagues about these issues. They know our views very, very clearly.
CHARLIE ROSE: Admiral Mullen has been over to see him about 15 times.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: And in fact Admiral Mullen and I have gone together to see him.
CHARLIE ROSE: So give us a measure of him, the chief of staff of the army in Pakistan who just renewed his --
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: General Kayani.
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: General Kayani, first of all, he’s a very powerful person and a very important fact never this equation.
CHARLIE ROSE: And once led the ISI.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: He was head of the ISIS. He also went to Fort Leavenworth Command and Control College and is proud to say he is a member of the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame.
CHARLIE ROSE: That would be in Kansas?
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: I believe so, yes.
And he is -- among general officers I’ve known he’s a remarkable strategic thinker. He’s very smart. And he is -- he was involved from the war on Bangladesh when he was a junior officer in 1971. He is an enormously powerful political factor in the country. And we have extensive discussions with him. As you mentioned earlier Mike Mullen is his primary --
CHARLIE ROSE: OK, let me ask you this then, and you have had all these conversations. Is he worried and does he reflect this in questions to you and Admiral Mullen, the Americans have left Afghanistan before. If they leave now we need some allies over there because we have a relationship and so therefore the people who have the relationship are the Haqqani network, and there you go.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: Well, that’s a very, very well phrased. And I think I’m not betraying any confidences when I say that General Kayani has said repeatedly that his government, his country, and his army do not wish to see a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan against. That would be against their interests.
But they want and he has stated very clearly that he wants stability and peace in Afghanistan.
Now President Obama and the rest of us have also said publicly that to get to stability in Afghanistan, because it’s a poor country surrounded by more powerful neighbors like Iran on its western side and Pakistan on its eastern side, and just beyond them, India and China has a common board we are Afghanistan and Russia just over the horizon, given its location, which is why it’s always been the center of such drama and competitiveness, that the President has said that we recognize that other countries have legitimate interests in the security in Afghanistan just the way we have legitimate security interests in regard to our neighbors.
And in this regard we have said publicly and President Obama said publicly that we recognize that Pakistan and other countries, and other countries, have legitimate security interests in what happens in Afghanistan just like we have legitimate security interests in what happens in our neighborhood, whether it’s missiles in Cuba or what happens in Mexico or Haiti or whatever.
And that was a major step forward in policy development. And this opened up the door to a very sustained strategic dialogue with the Pakistanis which has been lead on our side by Hillary Clinton.
She hosted -- she’s been to Pakistan twice in the last nine months. The first trip was very contentious. The second one last month was very successful, total turn around because we’re giving them a lot of economic aid now, economic aid as a result of Senator Kerry and Senator Lugar’s leadership in the so-called Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation.
And now we’ve opened up a serious dialogue. They are coming back in Washington in October. In these discussions we have had open and candid exchanges with the Pakistanis on what kind of a security environment they want to have.
Now, before you go on I need to make a key point. There are other countries who are having similar dialogues with but not perhaps at this level and the two I want to single out are India and China because they also have legitimate roles in the area.
This came up when President Obama went to Beijing. It came up with Hillary went to India for the strategic dialogue. You know she has had strategic dialogues in the last few months with India, Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan.
So what we’re looking for here is to embed the Afghan challenge inside a regional approach, and I myself have talked to all of these countries including Russia. And we are looking very much at the bringing the region into a discussion of a peaceful country.
CHARLIE ROSE: Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan.