Entries in This Week (6)


Sunday Spotlight: Malala Yousafzai 

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- This week marked the 16th birthday celebration of Malala Yousafzai, an education activist who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban last October. Yousafzai delivered a speech at the United Nations on Friday, which was commemorated as “Malala Day.”

“We call upon the world leaders that all the peace deals must protect women and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the rights of women is unacceptable,” Yousafzai declared to a chamber of hundreds of young people hailing from more than 100 countries, who convened for the first U.N. Youth Assembly.

U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education and Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown reminded the audience that Yousafzai’s enemies had hoped the young advocate wouldn’t reach this milestone.

“Let me repeat the words, the words the Taliban never wanted her to hear: Happy 16th birthday, Malala!,” he said.

Deeming her “a symbol of Western culture” for promoting female education, the Taliban shot Yousafzai in the head on her way to school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. After the shooting, a representative of the Taliban said, “Let this be a lesson.”

Yousafzai was unfazed.

“They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed,” she said. “Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

Friday marked her first public speech since the incident.

Malala Yousafzai’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who ran one of the last schools to violate the Taliban’s ban on women’s education, told ABC News’ Bob Woodruff in an interview for This Week that his daughter has been reevaluating her original ambition to become a doctor.

“She came to the conclusion that if she becomes a doctor she may have patients in hospital, but she wanted to be the doctor of society, the doctor for the country, and a politician can do that,” he said. “They make a difference.”

On “Malala Day”, the eponymous activist shifted the focus away from herself and toward the cause of education access.

“Malala Day is not my day,” she said.

“I speak not for myself, but so those without voice can be heard,” she added.

About 57 million children around the world are not attending school, the majority of whom are girls, according to a report by the U.N. agency UNESCO and Save the Children.

Yousafzai called for people to pick up their “most powerful weapons”: books and pens.

“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world,” she said.

Yousafzai will be offering a book of her own. She’s writing a memoir, I Am Malala, scheduled to hit bookshelves this fall.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Egypt's Ambassador to the US Defends Ousting of President Morsi

ABC(CAIRO) -- Despite delays to name an interim prime minister and days of violent protests, Egypt's ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed Tawfik defended the military's ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, telling ABC's This Week it wasn't the army who took over but the army acting on behalf of the people.

“Egypt has not undergone a military coup and it is certainly not run by the military,” Tawfik said Sunday. “Today there is an interim president in place.”

Tawfik said that they plan to form a new government that represents the people of Egypt, something he claims Morsi did not do. “President Morsi did not act in the interests of the vast majority of Egyptians, he only looked at his own clique. You can't be a democratically-elected president and act that way,” the ambassador said.

He called upon the Muslim Brotherhood to come back to the negotiating table, acknowledge the mistakes they made and then join in the efforts to create a brighter future for Egypt.

“There is room for everyone in Egypt but there is no room for violence,” Tawfik said. “There is no room for incitement to hatred and incitement to commit acts of violence.”

The Muslim Brotherhood sees the situation quite differently.

“It's military junta,” said Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad , who denounced the military's move as a coup against democracy. “Tanks on the streets, troops on protests, military people shooting civilians, I mean it's every ingredient of a full police state. I mean what else are people waiting for?” he told ABC News.

“I lived most of my life under the oppressive state of Mubarak, my father did the same under different regimes, my grandfather did the same, it's been too long and this country has been robbed for its freedoms. I'm not willing to let my son and my daughter inherit this state in that mess.”

El-Haddad said that he, and other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were willing to die for their cause.

“I will stand in front of that tank even if it rolls on our dead bodies,” he said. “There is no plan B. We will stick by our principles. We either return the president back to his rightful place, or they are just going to have to shoot us in the street.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Leon Panetta Calls Pakistan Doctor’s Treason Sentence ‘Disturbing’

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it was “disturbing” and “difficult to understand” Pakistan’s 33-year prison sentence for a doctor who aided the United States in finding terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Shakil Afridi, a 48-year-old Pakistani doctor, was convicted last week of high treason by a Pakistani tribal court for working with the CIA by running a fake vaccination program near the al Qaeda leader’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in an attempt to collect DNA samples from bin Laden’s relatives to try to confirm his location.

“It is so difficult to understand and it’s so disturbing that they would sentence this doctor to 33 years for helping in the search for the most notorious terrorist in our times,” Panetta said during a This Week interview.

“This doctor was not working against Pakistan. He was working against al Qaeda,” Panetta added. “And I hope that ultimately Pakistan understands that, because what they have done here … does not help in the effort to try to reestablish a relationship between the United States and Pakistan.”

Afridi’s conviction was met with harsh criticism by U.S. officials, amid already-strained relations with Pakistan after the discovery that bin Laden had hidden in the country for more than five years, before Navy SEALs raided his Abbottabad compound and killed him last May.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Afridi’s treatment “unjust and unwarranted” on Thursday, while Congress proposed cutting aid to Pakistan by $33 million -- $ 1 million for each year of Afridi’s sentence.

When asked if Pakistan can still be considered a U.S. ally, Panetta acknowledged the “complicated” relationship with the country.

“This has been one of the most complicated relationships that we’ve had, working with Pakistan,” Panetta said. “It’s an up-and-down relationship. There have been periods where we’ve had good cooperation and they have worked with us. And there have been periods where we’ve had conflict.”

“So our responsibility here is to keep pushing them to understand how important it is for them to work with us to try to deal with the common threats we both face,” Panetta added. ”And what they did with this doctor doesn’t help in the effort to try to do that.”

Afridi’s sentencing could also complicate negotiations over the re-opening of land supply routes through Pakistan for use by U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. After once charging $250 per truck, Pakistan is now pushing for $5,000 for each truck that passes through Pakistan carrying supplies.

“We’re going to pay a fair price. They’re negotiating what that price ought to be,” Panetta said of the deadlocked discussions. “We’re not about to get gouged in the price. We want a fair price. ”

Pakistanis for their part have criticized the U.S. for its drone strike campaign in their country, with the U.S. using unmanned aerial drones to target potential terrorist targets -- but sometimes leading to civilian casualties that spur resentment towards the U.S.

Panetta, however, called drone strikes “one of the most precise weapons that we have in our arsenal,” and said that protecting U.S. security by leveling terrorist targets in countries like Pakistan and Yemen takes priority.

“Our responsibility is to defend and protect the United States of America,” Panetta said. “And using the operations that we have, using the systems that we have, using the weapons that we have, is absolutely essential to our ability to defend Americans. That’s what counts, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Exclusive: ABC's Amanpour Interviews Gadhafi's Son

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, in an exclusive interview with ABC's This Week host Christiane Amanpour, insists Libya is calm, the military has not attacked any civilians and reports of Libyan diplomats abandoning their posts is simply 'miscommunication.'

There is a "big big gap between reality and the media reports" Gadhafi said. "The whole south is calm. The west is calm. The middle is calm. Even part of the east."

What will happen to him and his father – will they stay or go?

"Listen: nobody is leaving this country. We live here, we die here," he insisted. "This is our country. The Libyans are our people. And for myself, I believe I am doing the right thing."

Until civil unrest in Libya exploded over the last weeks, Gadhafi, the second oldest of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's children, had been seen as the western face of the regime. Educated at the London School of Economics, he promoted Libya's potential, telling The New York Times in February 2010 that Libya "can be the Dubai of North Africa."

But, a year later, his emphasis was a bit different. He sat down with Amanpour in central Tripoli to answer tough questions about the future of Libya.

"The President of the U.S. has called on your father to step down. How do you feel about that?" Amanpour asked.

"It's not an American business, that's number one," said Gadhafi, who was dressed casually as he spoke with Amanpour. “Second, do they think this is a solution? Of course not."

"He says if a person can only keep control by using force, then legitimacy is gone," Amanpour pressed.

"Right, but what happened? We didn't use force. Second, we still have people around us," he said.

Amanpour noted the extensive reports of attacks on civilians.

"Show me a single attack, show me a single bomb," he said. "The Libyan air force destroyed just the ammunition sites," Gadhafi said. "That's it."

"What do you make of your diplomats in Washington and New York who are resigning because they can't abide this policy?" Amanpour asked Gadhafi.

"I talked to him. You know, we are the victims of miscommunication," he said. "And they were under the influence of a strong media campaign, well-organized. So, you know, they are human beings at the end."

"But they've defected," Amanpour said.

"Not defected, none of them defect. They were so moved because they--"

Amanpour interrupted. "But they are calling on your father to step down," she said.

"C'mon, they are employees working for the government," Gadhafi said. "It's not their business."

Gadhafi emphasized that the most important issue for him was to correct what he saw as the falsehood that forces backed by his father had attacked civilians.

"The most important issue for us is show me a single evidence that the Libyan army or the Libyan government bombed civilians," he said, slicing the air with his index finger. "I challenge the whole international community to give me a single evidence."

Asked about the potential of international sanctions and the freezing of some of his family's assets, Ghadafi said, "First of all, we don't have money outside. We are a very modest family and everybody knows that. And we are laughing when they say you have money in Europe or Switzerland or something. C'mon, it's a joke."

And what about all those western-orient reforms he tried to implement?

"I worked very hard to implement many ideas, but things went wrong," he said.

"So now we are [in] a difficult situation," Gadhafi added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hillary Clinton Calls for End to Violence in Bahrain

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an end to violence in Bahrain and for the government there to move towards democratic reform. But in an ABC News interview aired Sunday, she declined to hold Bahrain to the same standard that the Obama administration held Egypt to during the 18 days of protests there.

She warned, speaking generally about the Middle East, that there were dangers in the transition to democracy and that the process could be hijacked. Iran loomed large in Clinton's view of democratic transition. She twice used Iran's 1979 revolution as an example of how a people's movement could result in a non-democratic government.

"We've been very clear from the beginning that we do not want to see any violence. We deplore it. We think it is absolutely unacceptable. We very much want to see the human rights of the people protected including right to assemble, right to express themselves and we want to see reform. And so Bahrain had started on some reform and we want to see them get back to that as quickly as possible."

Pressed on what the consequences might be from the United States if Bahrain continued to violently crack down on protesters, Clinton said the administration’s been clear in its expectations.

"We want to see transparency, accountability," Clinton said. "We deplore violence and we expect that the government will take the steps necessary to try to restore confidence, to reach out and continue the path of reform that they were on."

Bahrain, a Shia-majority country ruled by a Sunni monarch, is an island nation in the Persian Gulf. An essential ally for the United States -- in large measure because of its key geographic position near Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran -- Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. One-fifth of the world's oil supply passes through the Persian Gulf.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egyptian Ambassador: US Can Count on Egypt as an Ally

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Egyptian ambassador to the United States says the Egyptian military, led by the Minister of Defense Field Marshall Mohamad Tantawi, is in charge of his country and that the post-Mubarak Egypt will continue to be a strong U.S. ally.

"Can the U.S. count on the same kind of support it had before?" Christiane Amanpour, host of ABC’s This Week, asked Ambassador Sameh Shoukry.

"Certainly," Shoukry said. "These issues are driven by mutual interest, by Egyptian interest and the interest remains a close association to the United States."

Shoukry said that Egypt's emergency law would be lifted, as the military had communicated, "as soon as the current conditions of protest have been terminated."

The emergency law allows agents of the government to arrest anyone without charge.

The government, Shoukry said, would focus on restoring security, and restructuring the police force and economic welfare.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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