Today, in a Hot Air exclusive, I interviewed Ambassador Said Jawad of Afghanistan on a variety of topics, but mostly focused on the war and relations with Pakistan, India, Iran, and the West. I first met Ambassador Jawad last year when I traveled to Washington DC to interview him in person. The technical arrangements for the live show turned into quite the fiasco, and Ambassador Jawad graciously watched me disassemble his telephone and the wiring at his desk as I tried to get the connections to work. Perhaps wisely, he chose this time to tape the interview ahead of its airing.
Ambassador Jawad gave frank and honest answers to the questions I posed regarding the Afghan nation and the challenges it faces. Among his observations:
- On the focus of both presidential campaigns on Afghanistan: “We are grateful for the fact that there is a greater degree of understanding of the magnitude of the problem in Afghanistan and therefore a greater degree of commitment …”
- On the shortage of Afghan security forces: “The fact is that Afghanistan is larger than Iraq, with terrain that is more difficult and more complicated … The forces only just got increased to 85,000 …. and this is not enough to defend the country against terrorism.”
- On accusations that Pakistani intelligence aids terrorist groups: “These were not accusations — these were clear facts. While some of our international friends didn’t agree with [our decision] to take a stronger stand against Pakistan over the last six years for political reasons, we were very clear to point to the real origin and the real source of terrorism in the region.”
- On the commitment of the Gilani civilian government in Pakistan to fight terrorism: “The civilian government understands the danger of the Talibanization of Pakistan, which is coupled with another serious threat I call the Pakistanization of al-Qaeda … Do they have the necessary capability? We’ll have to see. The military has the capability, but they don’t have the commitment.”
- What don’t Americans know about Iran and the drug trade? “Iran has a huge problem of addiction and consumption, particularly in heroin and opium. This has been a historic problem in Iran. There has been a very good degree of cooperation between the two countries, especially along the border.”
Want to know more about Afghanistan, its challenges, and what we need to do to win the war? Be sure to tune in to The Ed Morrissey Show tomorrow at 3 pm ET, when we’ll talk with Jim Geraghty of Campaign Spot and then play the interview in its entirety!