India’s Envy: Wants ‘POF-EYE’ type weapon to combat terror


December 31, 2009

Times of India

After Pakistan Ordinance Factory (POF) succesfully unveiled its ‘POF-EYE CornerShot’ at IDEAS-2008 last year, India has launched its own hunt for a similar weapon. Currently Pakistan and Israel are the only two countries who manufacture the CornerShot gun.

NEW DELHI: Having learnt lessons from the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, the Army has launched a global hunt for suitable weapon systems `for shooting around the corner’ for its troops involved in counter-terrorism operations.

These `cornershot’ rifles and pistols, with detachable high-resolution video cameras and monitors mounted on them, will help Army special forces like the Para-SF units to effectively tackle terrorists in urban warfare scenarios.

“Such close-quarter combat weapons will help our commandos to observe and engage targets from behind a corner — for instance, while storming a building or a room — without exposing themselves to direct fire from terrorists,” said an officer.

“American, Israeli, Pakistani and a few other forces already use such weapons… The front parts of their barrels, mounted with video cameras, can swivel 60 to 70 degree on either side to scan and direct fire around corners,” he added.

Floating the Request for Information (RFI), the Army’s weapons and equipment directorate wants armament companies to submit their proposals by January 30. This comes soon after elite counter-terror force National Security Guards launched the process to acquire cornershot weapons as well as wall surveillance radars to monitor what is the situation inside a room without actually entering it.

“Such new-generation equipment is very effective in neutralising terrorists in situations like 26/11, where commandos had to clear the five-star hotels in room-to-room flushing out operations,” said the officer.

The Army’s RFI specifies the cornershot weapons must be able to `engage targets effectively beyond 200 metres’ and have day/night vision capability.

While the exact number of the weapons to be acquired is yet to be finalised, officers said transfer of technology to manufacture them indigenously was being sought since “a large quantity” was required.

“The weapon systems should also have image downloading and transmission capability so that the enemy can be located and information shared with other troops to enable the commandos to take the best positions to engage the targets,” said an officer.

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US behind attacks on Pakistani civilians: Ex-ISI chief


Former ISI chief Asad Durrani says private US contractors such as Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) and other intelligence agents may be behind the assassination of civilians across Pakistan.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Durrani said on Friday that the local militants led by Hakimullah Mehsud primarily target the government and military instillations.

Arguing against the local militants involvements in civilian assassinations, Durrani added that the militants consider Islamabad as a close ally of the US in the so-called ‘war on terror’ and that they have been launching retaliatory attacks against the government targets, particularly since the Pakistani army launched a major offensive against their stronghold in South Waziristan.

Durrani said that he doubted the notorious militants groups were behind a recent surge in attacks on civilian targets across the country.

The former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) claimed that certain theories were circulating among Pakistani intellectuals suggesting that the foreign agents or private US contractors could have been orchestrating assassinations on the civilian targets in the nuclear-armed country.

According to Durrani, these attacks were being carried out to encourage Islamabad to be more involved in war against the militants.

Pakistan has experienced a wave of violence over the past two years. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed in bomb attacks and other terrorist operations across the country.

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The US military is exhausted


Sarah Lazare

The call for over 30,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan is a travesty for the people of that country who have already suffered eight brutal years of occupation.

It is also a harsh blow to the US soldiers facing imminent deployment.

As Barack Obama, the US president, gears up for a further escalation that will bring the total number of troops in Afghanistan to over 100,000, he faces a military force that has been exhausted and overextended by fighting two wars.

Many from within the ranks are openly declaring that they have had enough, allying with anti-war veterans and activists in calling for an end to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with some active duty soldiers publicly refusing to deploy.

This growing movement of military refusers is a voice of sanity in a country slipping deeper into unending war.

The architects of this war would be well-advised to listen to the concerns of the soldiers and veterans tasked with carrying out their war policies on the ground.

Many of those being deployed have already faced multiple deployments to combat zones: the 101st Airborne Division, which will be deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010, faces its fifth combat tour since 2002.

“They are just going to start moving the soldiers who already served in Iraq to Afghanistan, just like they shifted me from one war to the next,” said Eddie Falcon, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Soldiers are going to start coming back with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), missing limbs, problems with alcohol, and depression.”

Many of these troops are still suffering the mental and physical fallout from previous deployments.

Rates of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been disproportionately high, with a third of returning troops reporting mental problems and 18.5 per cent of all returning service members battling either PTSD or depression, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.

Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007, and army suicides are at the highest rate since records were kept in 1980.

Resistance in the ranks

US army soldiers are refusing to serve at the highest rate since 1980, with an 80 per cent increase in desertions since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the Associated Press.

These troops refuse deployment for a variety of reasons: some because they ethically oppose the wars, some because they have had a negative experience with the military, and some because they cannot psychologically survive another deployment, having fallen victim to what has been termed “Broken Joe” syndrome.

Over 150 GIs have publicly refused service and spoken out against the wars, all risking prison and some serving long sentences, and an estimated 250 US war resisters are currently taking refuge in Canada.

This resistance includes two Fort Hood, Texas, soldiers, Victor Agosto and Travis Bishop, who publicly resisted deployment to Afghanistan this year, facing prison sentences as a result, with Bishop still currently detained.

“There is no way I will deploy to Afghanistan,” wrote Agosto, upon refusing his service last May. “The occupation is immoral and unjust.”

Within the US military, GI resisters and anti-war veterans have organised through broad networks of veteran and civilian alliances, as well as through IVAW, comprised of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

This organisation, which is over 1,700 strong, with members across the world, including active-duty members on military bases, is opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and openly supports GI resistance.

“Iraq Veterans Against the War calls on Obama to end the war in Afghanistan (and Iraq) by withdrawing troops immediately and unconditionally,” wrote Jose Vasquez, the executive director of IVAW, in a December 2 open letter.

“It’s not time for our brothers and sisters in arms to go to Afghanistan. It’s time for them to come home.”

No clear progress

GI coffee houses have sprung up at several military bases around the country. In the tradition of the GI coffee houses of the Vietnam war era, these cafes provide a space where active duty troops can speak freely and access resources about military refusal, PTSD, and veteran and GI movements against the war.

“Here at Fort Lewis, we’ve lost 20 soldiers from the most recent round of deployments,” said Seth Menzel, an Iraq combat veteran and founding organiser of Coffee Strong, a GI coffee house at the sprawling Washington army base.

“We’ve seen resistance to deployment, mainly based on the fact that soldiers have been deployed so many times they don’t have the patience to do it again.”

As the occupation of Afghanistan passes its eighth year, with no clear progress, goals that remain elusive, and a high civilian death count, this war is coming to resemble the Iraq war that has been roundly condemned by world and US public opinion.

The never-ending nature of this conflict belies the real project of establishing US dominance in the Middle East and control of the region’s resources, at the expense of the Afghan civilians and US soldiers being placed in harm’s way.

The voices of refusal coming from within the US military send a powerful message that soldiers will not be fodder for an unjust and unnecessary war. By withdrawing their labour from a war that depends on their consent, these soldiers have the power to help bring this war to an end, as did their predecessors in the GI resistance movement against the Vietnam war.

And the longer the war in Afghanistan drags on – the more lives that are lost and destroyed – the more resistance we will see coming from within the ranks.

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Clashes in India over delay in creating new state


HYDERABAD (India)—Police with bamboo batons clashed with crowds of protesters in southern India on Thursday as outrage over a delay in creating a new state erupted into violent demonstrations in several cities.Hundreds of armed police patrolled the southern state of Andhra Pradesh after protesters burned dozens of vehicles overnight.

Advocates of the new state staged a general strike Thursday that paralyzed much of the region.
India has faced renewed calls to redraw its administrative map since the government’s surprise decision earlier this month to give in to a senior official’s hunger strike demanding the formation of a new state called Telangana in the northern part of Andhra Pradesh.
The announcement on Telangana prompted ethnic minorities and activists seeking states of their own to begin pressing longtime grievances anew, and India found itself confronting calls for a wholesale redrawing of the map in the diverse nation of 1.2 billion.

The Telangana decision sparked joy among its supporters but fury from opponents in Andhra Pradesh, who flooded the streets, set public buses on fire and clashed with police for three days.On Wednesday night, India’s Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram appeared to backtrack on the issue, saying the situation in Andhra Pradesh “has altered” since his initial announcement promising the creation of Telangana.

“A large number of political parties are divided on the issue,” he said. “There is a need to hold wide-ranging consultations with all political parties and groups in the state.”
Soon after Chidambaram’s comments, hundreds of angry pro-Telangana protesters took to the streets, torching and damaging dozens of buses.Police confronting angry student demonstrators used wooden batons to beat back crowds in Hyderabad, local television footage showed. An Associated Press photographer witnessed other clashes between police and protesters.
Violence was reported in at least two other cities, although details of casualties were not available.

At least 50 local lawmakers and 11 federal legislators who support the creation of the new state offered their resignation following Chidambaram’s comments.K. Chandrasekhara Rao, the politician who went on the hunger strike to demand the new state, called the delay “a betrayal of the people of Telangana.” “This is an attempt to put Telangana into cold storage. He has used the words ‘wide-ranging consultation with all political parties’ without giving any timeframe. How long this will go on?” Rao said.Activists in the Telangana area have long complained it was underdeveloped and ignored by powerful politicians from southern Andhra Pradesh. Demands for a separate state had erupted sporadically since the 1950s.

The 48-hour strike was called by Telangana supporters from various political parties.
On Thursday, businesses and shops were shut and vehicles stayed off the roads during the strike.
However, Rao told reporters late Thursday that organizers agreed to call off Friday’s planned second day of the strike in response to a call from Christian leaders to respect the Christmas holiday.

Several parts of India — the Bundelkhand region in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha in the western Maharashtra state and Gorkhaland in the eastern West Bengal state — also face similar movements for new states.So far there have been no moves by the government to create separate states there. India now has 28 states and seven federally administered regions.—Agencies

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Obama’s AF-PAK Policy


PRESIDENT Obama recently delivered the most important speech regarding war against terror and also announced that 30,000 additional American troops will be deployed in Afghanistan. The war is not going to be fought on the battlefields of Herat, Farah, Kunduz or Mizar-e-Sharif. The war would be fought in the areas near to the borders of Pakistan including Helmand, Kandahar, Khost and Paktia.

First and foremost objective of Obama’s speech was to prepare his troops for the final but aggressive attack on the Taliban and al-Qaeda till July 2011, the cut-off date to insert the troops in Afghanistan.

That is why the deadline is July 2011, to create a complete withdrawal of American troops until the 2012 American presidential polls. Obama’s speech also revealed to the international community that this could be done if and only if they get full support from Pakistan’s army. Obama promised “a partnership with Pakistan that is built on mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual trust.” He also highlighted the fact that the United States is the largest supplier for those internally displaced persons in SWAT and South Waziristan. Obama’s administration wants to affect the 2012 election in favor of democrats and this could be done only if they get rid of Afghan war that has so far turned out to be ineffective.

The deployment of extra troops will take at least six months which means it will be completed by the June of 2010. Obama thinks that, in Afghanistan, the US military can create an environment which favors to their desired objectives. American administration believes that, after a fast deployment of the US troops, the military offensive can reverse the Taliban’s energy, secure the urban centers and deny the Taliban ability to overthrow the government. It seems that Obama believes that in Afghanistan the use of force is a tool to bring about the desired change, the change of the US liking. Obama seems forgetting that had force being the critical factor the former USSR would have been a living reality in Afghanistan. If Obama is sending more troops there may be more problems and it can create instability in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and there may be more chances of the US staying in Afghanistan than the possibility of exit.
Obama administration has also tried to apply Iraq formula in Afghanistan as they tried to change current regime by force like what we have witnessed in current Afghan presidential polls, there were serious allegations on Karzai’s government regarding massive rigging but the point is that Afghanistan is not like Iraq so they have to apply that formula which has its roots in Afghanistan.

The Afghan territory is very difficult especially for the invaders because it is full off rocky-terrain. The tribal society which is inherently aggressive towards the invaders and they never accept any outsider intervention in past as well so will they be able to accept the extra 30,000 troops or not? And this is very serious question and the answer is that they will definitely create big challenges for US and NATO troops as more US and NATO troops in Afghanistan means more conflicts and tensions then peace. Further the porous Afghan border that links with Pakistani territory especially NWFP, FATA and Balochistan can create insurgency in these areas and that can create more panic and unrest in Pakistan that can lead towards further destabilization of Pakistan.

However, Obama is expecting civilian Afghans become anti Taliban from the Afghan society which is traditionally tribal in nature and has still struck with their primitive trends and culture of their society and it is very difficult to change the Afghan tribal culture in just fewer months. That is the error in the Obama’s policy.

US infect is partially applying the major trend of Iraq formula in Afghanistan. Like in Iraq, they also want to create effective Afghan army and police that could protect the present or any future government but the situation in Afghanistan is far much worse as compared to Iraq. It needs time to implement on this policy and Obama administration already gives the dead line of pulling out US troops from Afghanistan from the summer of 2011 to the beginning of 2012. Obama administration not recalled the consequences of withdrawal of USSR from Afghanistan in 1989 that resulted of civil war eruption in Afghanistan and pro-communist regime was over thrown by Taliban. Now looking deep into the current circumstances it has been said in load tone that history will repeat itself yet another time.

Obama speech which clearly shows of taking out the troops from Afghanistan but they also want a weighty type of operation should also be occurred against Taliban. In a way, Obama linked the Taliban with Afghanistan and al-Qaeda with Pakistan. In that circumstance, it seems that al-Qaeda is present in Pakistan, to chase al-Qaeda in Pakistan is an uphill task and the fight against al-Qaeda in Pakistan will continue for years to come. Practically, the war on terror has been shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan and the war is being virtually fought inside Pakistan. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, there are just post-war effects existing in the shape of insurgency. That is why Americans are laying stress that in Pakistan there is more need of counter-terrorism operations and in Afghanistan there is more need of counter-insurgency operations. The main problem is that US want to handle the situation on her own way but several factors can also play a vital role and it will create more instability in Pakistan as compare to Afghanistan. The present scenario in Pakistan is highlighted by deadly suicide attacks in major urban areas and on Pakistan’s security personnel. This is also linked with the US policy directly or indirectly. The Pakistan army holding the war against terrorist in South Waziristan and if US inserts more troops in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border it will create more difficulty for Pakistan’s army to handle the situation and counter the terrorism. Obama in his speech said that after 18 months they will pull out their troops from Afghanistan and they are now about to create the situation that can does not help them to control Afghanistan nor it can help Pakistan to eradicate the terrorist’s hideouts in FATA. To create peace and stability in Afghanistan needs much more than a short time extensive military presence. It needs to give more importance to Pakistan in Afghanistan as compared to other regional powers. But if Obama’s administration keeps on cursing Pakistan of the US failures in Afghanistan then the situation can’t become soothe as US may face difficulty not only in nurturing the long-lasting relationship with the Pakistan but also in fighting the war enthusiastically.

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Another rape attempt on Russian women in Goa (India)


Panaji: A Christmas party in Goa for two Russian women turned out to be a horrifying ordeal when a taxi driver they had engaged tried to rape them at Anjuna.

The two victims had to hide in a jungle for six hours to escape being raped and robbed by the taxi driver and his accomplices on a night when police claimed security in the state was at its peak.

In a complaint filed with the Anjuna police station, the two women said the incident took place after they hired a taxi near Club West End in Saligao at 0220 hours IST on December 25 after attending a Christmas party at the popular night club.

“We had hired a taxi GA-01-L-9613 for Rs 300 to travel from Club West End to our hotel Charleston in Baga. But the driver told us that he wanted to avoid bribing the police picket on the main road and said he would take an alternative route,” one of the women said in her complaint.

“Instead of Baga, he took us to Anjuna and said he wanted Rs 1,000 for the ride and instead of money, he wanted to have sex with us. When we protested, he tried to attack us forcing us to jump out of the car and run into the jungle nearby,” she said.

“We had to hide till 7 am in the morning in the jungle before we complained to the police,” she added.

Officials attached to the Anjuna police station have confirmed the complaint.

A senior police officer said that a case has been filed against the unknown taxi driver for attempt to rape and assault.

“He is on the run. We are in the process of tracking him down,” the officer said.

Goa, a popular tourism destination for Russians, has seen several instances of crime against foreigners. A Goan politician is already absconding for allegedly raping a 25-year-old Russian woman earlier this month.

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