Sunday, October 7

Lara Logan to Gen. John Allen: "American soldiers continue to die because of the support Pakistan gives to America's enemies." Allen to Logan: "You've just stated the truth."

CBS correspondent Lara Logan has earned respect as a war reporter in the only way anyone can earn such respect -- through sheer slog work over years in very dangerous situations. So today her views are as much an important part of her interviews as those of the persons she questions.  Her latest report from Afghanistan, The Longest War, broadcast during last Sunday's 60 Minutes, features her discussion with a Taliban commander about al Qaeda in Afghanistan and 'insider' killings of NATO troops, and with ISAF/US commander Gen. John Allen and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai. The entire report is worth viewing (also available in transcript form) but here I focus on her exchanges about Pakistan:
Hamid Karzai to Lara Logan: I have letters from Gen. Allen who says that the security in Afghanistan is a lot better and the people are waiting for improved governance.

Lara Logan: Do you agree with him?

Karzai: I - No, I don't agree with that.

Lara Logan: You tell him that?

Karzai: Yes.

Lara Logan: What does he say?

Karzai: The security has improved but not - not completely.

Lara Logan to Gen. John Allen: He doesn't agree with [your view that security in Afghanistan has greatly improved].  He says that's wrong. And he's told you he's not satisfied with the answers he's getting from you. What do you say to that?

Allen: Well-- (LAUGH) I think we have a difference of opinion on that. The security situation isn't perfect around the country. I mean, there are lots of areas that remain 'insecure' probably is the word. But an awful lot of the population of this country is living in an area where there is vastly improved security from where it was just a few years ago.

[LOGAN VOICEOVER] They did agree on a few things. Right now there's no peace process at all with the Taliban and Pakistan is the problem. Enemy fighters from the Afghan battlefield have enjoyed freedom and sanctuary on Pakistani soil since the beginning of the war.

Lara Logan to Gen. Allen: Ultimately, it's not going to matter what you do if you do not address the critical element of the safe havens that the enemy has inside Pakistan, across the border, in many ways, out of your reach.

Allen: Well, we're doing a great deal right now. The relationship that we have between ISAF forces and the Pakistani military has improved dramatically --

Lara Logan: But it doesn't stop Pakistanis helping our enemies kill U.S. soldiers.

Allen: Well, that's not going to stop immediately. We've got to work at that. It's not a solution that can be had ultimately by a military solution. These are policy issues, these are government to government issues. I'm not going to be able to wage war in Pakistan. But this is hard. There's a very complex relationship with Pakistan. And we'll work very hard and very closely with the Pakistani military to achieve common objectives. But to some extent the Pakistani military has been successful in cooperating with us in the last several months with regard to complimentary operations on both sides of the border but much more needs to be done.

Lara Logan: Your deadliest enemies on the Afghan battlefield have complete freedom of movement inside Pakistan with the blessing of the Pakistanis. And every commander that's sat in your shoes has had to try and build a relationship and go through the same motions time and time again and the effect on the battlefield remains exactly the same. American soldiers continue to die because of the support Pakistan gives to America's enemies.

Allen: You've just stated the truth.

Lara Logan: [The situation] has got to make you mad.

Allen: Yes, it does. Yes, it does. And within the context of my authorities, we're going to do everything we can to hunt down and kill every one of those Haqqani operatives that we can inside this country. And those other elements that come out of those safe havens that ultimately threaten my troops, threaten the Afghan troops and the Afghan society, the Afghan civilians, and ultimately the Afghan government.

[LOGAN VOICEOVER] Karzai blames the U.S. for not confronting Pakistan years ago.

Lara Logan to Karzai: Why has the U.S. failed to address the issue with Pakistan do you think?

Karzai: Perhaps politics.

Lara Logan: What has been the cost of that?

Karzai: Heavy for us. Disastrous for us.

Lara Logan: Would Afghanistan look completely different today if the issue of sanctuary and safe haven in Pakistan had been dealt with years ago?

Karzai: Absolutely. Completely different. Much more peaceful. Much more progressed. Much more stable. And a society that would have been thriving on its own.

Lara Logan: Does that make you angry?

Karzai: Absolutely. Very much. And we have shown it.

Lara Logan: Was there much yelling and screaming behind closed doors?

Karzai: Plenty of that.

Lara Logan: Listening to you I get the feeling that there's a lot of anger towards the United States. There's been bad blood. What went wrong? Why do you feel this way?

Karzai: I don't feel angry. I'm -- Afghanistan feels let down.

[LOGAN VOICEOVER] Karzai has repeatedly expressed his gratitude for the sacrifices the U.S. has made in his country, but in recent years he's been outspoken and critical of his American partners.

Lara Logan: When Americans hear you criticize the U.S. they think of all the taxpayer money that they have sent to Afghanistan and the American lives that have been lost here. And some question what kind of partner you have been.

Karzai: So-- our criticism is not directed at the American people. Our criticism is directed at policies and behavior of those who are representing the United States people - and is in a manner of asking for change and improvement.

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