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Friday, 11 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 11 Jul

General Kapoor calls blast on Indian embassy in Kabul a well-planned attack


New Delhi

Thu, 10 Jul 2008:
New Delhi, July 10 (ANI): Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor on Thursday said that the blast on Indian consulate in Afghanistan that killed 58 people including four Indians and injured around 140 people was pre-meditated and well-planned.

On being asked Afghanistan's doubt about Pakistan's Inter-Services Ielligence (ISI) involvement in the blast on the sidelines of an army awards function here today, General Kapoor said that some element was definitely involved but denied to say anything else.

"The fact is as the circumstances stand, we feel it is a well-planned, pre-meditated, pre-planned attack. So obviously there has to be elements who would be involved. I would not like to deny or say anything else. But you should be able to make out that who could be inimical to our interest and to the Indian embassy in Kabul," General Kapoor told reporters.

Though Pakistan has denied allegation made by Kabul, Afghan analysts argue Pakistan is loath to see the emergence of a strong Afghanistan that is friendly to India and is secretly backing the Taliban as a "strategic asset", enabling Pakistani forces to concentrate on defending its border with India.

Afghanistan has accused Pakistani agents of being behind a number of attacks in recent weeks and Afghan President Hamid Karzai last month threatened to send troops across the border to attack militants there if Pakistan does not take action.

Suspected Taliban suicide car bomb hit the Indian Embassy in Kabul on Monday killing 58 people and wounding 139, in attack Afghan authorities said was coordinated with foreign agents in the region, a likely reference to Pakistan.

A line of people waiting for visas and shoppers at a nearby market were the main victims of the blast-- the deadliest in Kabul since U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban from power in 2001.

A Taliban spokesman denied responsibility for the attack, though another militant spokesman said earlier the hardline Islamist militia had been behind the bombing. The Taliban often disown attacks that kill large numbers of civilians. (ANI)

In yet another violation of the ceasefire, Pakistani troops on Thursday opened indiscriminate firing on Indian posts in Kishnaghati area, along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir as Indian forces were engaged in preventing a major infiltration bid nearby.
''Pakistani troops opened indiscriminate firing on a forward post along the LoC in Krishangati belt in Poonch district late on Thursday afternoon,'' defence spokesperson Col S D Goswami said.
No one was injured in the firing, the spokesman said.
However, a Pakistani military spokesman said it was the Indian forces which had opened fire.
The Indian spokesman said that posts on the LoC came under a barrage of fire from the opposite Pakistani positions, but said Indian troops did not retaliate.
Army sources said that the firing on the Indian post came even as Indian forces just 3 to 4 kms away were engaged in foiling a bid by about 20 militants to cross over.
''The infiltration bid was foiled. Militants were forced to retreat back to Pakistani territory,'' the Army spokesman said.
He said a protest was lodged with the Pakistani authorities over the unprovoked firing at a flag meeting of local commanders.

ak troops fire at Indian outpost
Tribune News Service and UNI

Jammu, July 10
Pakistani troops allegedly fired at an Indian outpost in Krishna Ghati (KG) sector along the Line of Control (LoC), after the Army foiled an infiltration bid elsewhere in same sector today.
“Army troops intercepted and foiled an attempt by unidentified people to breach the LoC at the KG. However, later a few kilometres away from the spot, Pakistani troops resorted to heavy firing at a border outpost in the same sector between 2.20 pm and 2.30 pm,” a defence spokesman said.
However, the Indian forces did not retaliate, the spokesman added.
Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday accused Indian forces of firing on its troops deployed at a forward post along the de facto border dividing Kashmir between the two countries.
According to Director General, ISPR, Major-General Athar Abbas, Pakistani troops fired back but there was no immediate report of casualties in the exchange of fire.
Gen Abbas said at 2 pm the Indian troops fired two mortars and small arms on a Pakistani check post at Battal in Rawalakot.
He said the Pakistani soldiers retaliated with mortars and small arms, adding that a protest was communicated to the Indian authorities across the border.
“Pakistan is demanding an immediate meeting at the level of Directors General, Military Operations,” he said.
The incident was a rare violation of a ceasefire, which Pakistan and India agreed to in November 2003 along the Line of control before they launched peace talks in January 2004.

Special forces for embassies

New Delhi, July 10 (PTI): India might deploy the army’s special forces to secure its missions.
Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said Monday’s suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul was “well-planned, pre-meditated and pre-planned” by forces that do not like India’s presence in Afghanistan. But he did not identify these forces.
“Obviously, there are elements that are inimical to India’s interests in Kabul who will be involved. I would not like to deny it,” he told reporters when asked to comment on Afghanistan’s suspicion that “an intelligence agency active in the region” was behind the terror strike.
While Afghanistan had clearly pointed a finger at Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, General Kapoor did not name the agency.
He merely said “we all should be able to make out who would be inimical to our interest in Kabul and to the Indian embassy in Kabul”.
Kapoor added: “We are deliberating on certain additional measures to be taken to ensure security of (embassy) personnel not only in Kabul but also elsewhere.”
The army chief did not rule out the possibility of deploying special forces of the army for security of the missions.
“If the need arises, we can certainly think of deploying special forces in addition to the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) men already there,” Kapoor said.

How Britain wages war

John Pilger

Published 10 July 2008

The military has created a wall of silence around its frequent resort to barbaric practices, including torture, and goes out of its way to avoid legal scrutiny

Five photographs together break a silence. The first is of a former Gurkha regimental sergeant major, Tul Bahadur Pun, aged 87. He sits in a wheelchair outside 10 Downing Street. He holds a board full of medals, including the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery, which he won serving in the British army.
He has been refused entry to Britain and treatment for a serious heart ailment by the National Health Service: outrages rescinded only after a public campaign. On 25 June, he came to Down ing Street to hand his Victoria Cross back to the Prime Minister, but Gordon Brown refused to see him.
The second photograph is of a 12-year-old boy, one of three children. They are Kuchis, nomads of Afghanistan. They have been hit by Nato bombs, American or British, and nurses are trying to peel away their roasted skin with tweezers. On the night of 10 June, Nato planes struck again, killing at least 30 civilians in a single village: children, women, schoolteachers, students. On 4 July, another 22 civilians died like this. All, including the roasted children, are described as "militants" or "suspected Taliban". The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, says the invasion of Afghan istan is "the noble cause of the 21st century".
The third photograph is of a computer-generated aircraft carrier not yet built, one of two of the biggest ships ever ordered for the Royal Navy. The £4bn contract is shared by BAE Systems, whose sale of 72 fighter jets to the corrupt tyranny in Saudi Arabia has made Britain the biggest arms merchant on earth, selling mostly to oppressive regimes in poor countries. At a time of economic crisis, Browne describes the carriers as "an affordable expenditure".
The fourth photograph is of a young British soldier, Gavin Williams, who was "beasted" to death by three non-commissioned officers. This "informal summary punishment", which sent his body temperature to more than 41 degrees, was intended to "humiliate, push to the limit and hurt". The torture was described in court as a fact of army life.
The final photograph is of an Iraqi man, Baha Mousa, who was tortured to death by British soldiers. Taken during his post-mortem, it shows some of the 93 horrific injuries he suffered at the hands of men of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment who beat and abused him for 36 hours, including double-hooding him with hessian sacks in stifling heat. He was a hotel receptionist. Although his murder took place almost five years ago, it was only in May this year that the Ministry of Defence responded to the courts and agreed to an independent inquiry. A judge has described this as a "wall of silence".
A court martial convicted just one soldier of Mousa's "inhumane treatment", and he has since been quietly released. Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, representing the families of Iraqis who have died in British custody, says the evidence is clear - abuse and torture by the British army is systemic.
Shiner and his colleagues have witness statements and corroborations of prima facie crimes of an especially atrocious kind usually associated with the Americans. "The more cases I am dealing with, the worse it gets," he says. These include an "incident" near the town of Majar al-Kabir in 2004, when British soldiers executed as many as 20 Iraqi prisoners after mutilating them. The latest is that of a 14-year-old boy who was forced to simulate anal and oral sex over a prolonged period.
"At the heart of the US and UK project," says Shiner, "is a desire to avoid accountability for what they want to do. Guantanamo Bay and extraordinary renditions are part of the same struggle to avoid accountability through jurisdiction." British soldiers, he says, use the same torture techniques as the Americans and deny that the European Convention on Human Rights, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on Torture apply to them. And British torture is "commonplace": so much so, that "the routine nature of this ill-treatment helps to explain why, despite the abuse of the soldiers and cries of the detainees being clearly audible, nobody, particularly in authority, took any notice".

Arcane rituals

Unbelievably, says Shiner, the Ministry of Defence under Tony Blair decided that the 1972 Heath government's ban on certain torture techniques applied only in the UK and Northern Ireland. Consequently, "many Iraqis were killed and tortured in UK detention facilities". Shiner is working on 46 horrific cases.
A wall of silence has always surrounded the British military, its arcane rituals, rites and practices and, above all, its contempt for the law and natural justice in its various imperial pursuits. For 80 years, the Ministry of Defence and compliant ministers refused to countenance posthumous pardons for terrified boys shot at dawn during the slaughter of the First World War. British soldiers used as guinea pigs during the testing of nuclear weapons in the Indian Ocean were abandoned, as were many others who suffered the toxic effects of the 1991 Gulf War. The treatment of Gurkha Tul Bahadur Pun is typical. Having been sent back to Nepal, many of these "soldiers of the Queen" have no pension, are deeply impoverished and are refused residence or medical help in the country for which they fought and for which 43,000 of them have died or been injured. The Gurkhas have won no fewer than 26 Victoria Crosses, yet Browne's "affordable expenditure" excludes them.
An even more imposing wall of silence ensures that the British public remains largely unaware of the industrial killing of civilians in Britain's modern colonial wars. In his landmark work Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses, the historian Mark Curtis uses three main categories: direct responsibility, indirect responsibility and active inaction.
"The overall figure [since 1945] is between 8.6 and 13.5 million," Curtis writes. "Of these, Britain bears direct responsibility for between four million and six million deaths. This figure is, if anything, likely to be an underestimate. Not all British interventions have been included, because of lack of data." Since his study was published, the Iraq death toll has reached, by reliable measure, a million men, women and children.
The spiralling rise of militarism within Britain is rarely acknowledged, even by those alerting the public to legislation attacking basic civil liberties, such as the recently drafted Data Com muni cations Bill, which will give the government powers to keep records of all electronic communication. Like the plans for identity cards, this is in keeping what the Americans call "the national security state", which seeks the control of domestic dissent while pursuing military aggression abroad. The £4bn aircraft carriers are to have a "global role". For global read colonial. The Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office follow Washington's line almost to the letter, as in Browne's preposterous description of Afghanistan as a noble cause. In reality, the US-inspired Nato invasion has had two effects: the killing and dispossession of large numbers of Afghans, and the return of the opium trade, which the Taliban had banned. According to Hamid Karzai, the west's puppet leader, Britain's role in Helmand Province has led directly to the return of the Taliban.

Loans for arms

The militarising of how the British state perceives and treats other societies is vividly demonstrated in Africa, where ten out of 14 of the most impoverished and conflict-ridden countries are seduced into buying British arms and military equipment with "soft loans". Like the British royal family, the British Prime Minister simply follows the money. Having ritually condemned a despot in Zimbabwe for "human rights abuses" - in truth, for no longer serving as the west's business agent - and having obeyed the latest US dictum on Iran and Iraq, Brown set off recently for Saudi Arabia, exporter of Wahhabi fundamentalism and wheeler of fabulous arms deals.
To complement this, the Brown government is spending £11bn of taxpayers' money on a huge, pri vatised military academy in Wales, which will train foreign soldiers and mercenaries recruited to the bogus "war on terror". With arms companies such as Raytheon profiting, this will become Britain's "School of the Americas", a centre for counter-insurgency (terrorist) training and the design of future colonial adventures.
It has had almost no publicity.
Of course, the image of militarist Britain clashes with a benign national regard formed, wrote Tolstoy, "from infancy, by every possible means - class books, church services, sermons, speeches, books, papers, songs, poetry, monuments [leading to] people stupefied in the one direction". Much has changed since he wrote that. Or has it? The shabby, destructive colonial war in Afghanistan is now reported almost entirely through the British army, with squaddies always doing their Kipling best, and with the Afghan resistance routinely dismissed as "outsiders" and "invaders". Pictures of nomadic boys with Nato-roasted skin almost never appear in the press or on television, nor the after-effects of British thermobaric weapons, or "vacuum bombs", designed to suck the air out of human lungs. Instead, whole pages mourn a British military intelligence agent in Afghanis tan, because she happens to have been a 26-year-old woman, the first to die in active service since the 2001 invasion.
Baha Mousa, tortured to death by British soldiers, was also 26 years old. But he was different. His father, Daoud, says that the way the Ministry of Defence has behaved over his son's death convinces him that the British government regards the lives of others as "cheap". And he is right.

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