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In the Name of God بسم الله

AliShan ShahinShah

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  1. Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-IL, said the “Jena 6” — a half dozen black teenagers arrested last year in the beating death of a white teenager — “have earned the mantle of Rosa Parks, and Americans should not turn a blind eye to the injustice of their cause.” “If Rosa Parks were alive today,” Sen. Obama said, “and if Rosa Parks gathered her posse and beat the bloody brains out of a white boy and got charged with murder, we would take to the streets just as we have for the Jena 6. The historical parallels are stunningly obvious. This is the most horrifying civil rights violation of our day.” If six black boys cant beat a white boy to death who can they beat to death? Meanwhile, the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson compared the Jena 6 to those who participated in lunch counter sit-ins to protest “separate but equal” accommodations in the South in the early 1960s. “We need to think of the Jena 6 as intelligent, idealistic young men,” said the Rev. Sharpton, “like those who risked it all to sit down in white sections of restaurants and who then pounded the cherry syrup out of the soda jerk. Is it right to charge such freedom fighters with a violent crime? You be the judge.” The Rev. Jackson added that, “Somewhere in heaven, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is looking down on us and smiling to see the legacy of his non-violent protest movement as we stand up for the rights of these persecuted boys.”
  2. Iran's domestically-produced Saegheh fighter jets perform a flypast during a military parade to commemorate the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war in Tehran September 22, 2007. (Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters) Once upon a time during Clinton Presidency, the US budget was balanced, the oil prices averaged $20 a barrel and the Dollar averaged over one Euro. After over six years, of Bush presidency the credibility of America has been severely damaged. The US budget deficit at record high, the oil cost per barrel is over $80 and the Euro equals1.4 US$. Many nations, including China, Japan and Saudi Arabia started to reduce their dollar reserves and are switching into other currencies. Like Hitler before, Bush will cover his economic and political bankruptcy by launching more wars. The weaker America is the better it is for the entire mankind, especially for those currently suffering from US and Israeli wars and atrocities. I do credit the Iraqi resistance for putting America on its knees.
  3. And the real displaced people are denied to live in the desert camps in several provinces of Iraq. As no one know /trust the new comers in thier home. Will Bush Homeland security will allow them to land near White House? A woman holds a photograph of her son, killed in sectarian violence, as nearly 300 Shiite residents of Baghdad's southern Saydiyah district, whom sectarian violence drove them out their houses, take to the streets of Baghdad, Iraq on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007, demanding the government to offer protection for them to return. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
  4. Imam Khomnie used to say about Royal Saudi Kings/Malaks; " They are Khyn al Harmain; not Khadim Al Harmain!" This is the day we are looking b/c wealth is concentrated in the hands of rich like Oil Shiekhs of Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Bahrain; Jordan. I am sure if the so-called Islamic States have obeyed the principle of distribution of wealth to poors; we will never have to reserve the place in advance. So what I am looking the day is coming closer when Bangladesh/Ethopia will sell the Saudi land to the one who will offer them the best price.
  5. An antique hand written Quran is displayed inside the museum in Harar, Ethiopia, July 21, 2007.
  6. I wonder you mean if my post editable? I am sure it was purchased by either a Saudi or Kuwaiti Sheikh cum Businessman (Sellers of ISLAM).
  7. A mini-mosque shares space inside a tree, in Harar, Ethiopia July 21, 2007. For 1,000 years, this city on a hilltop has been a center of Islamic faith in the Horn of Africa, with a forbidding, 4-meter (13-foot) wall surrounding ancient mosques and serpentine ( in architecture as a decorative stone.) alleyways. Harar was named a UNESCO World Heritage site last year, joining some of the world's top landmarks such as the Grand Canyon in the United States, the Great Wall of China and the Acropolis in Greece. It is also the fourth holiest city in Islam ? behind Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem (AP Photo/Anita Powell) More pictures here
  8. Chefs put finishing touches to a chocolate model of the Grand Mosque in a luxury hotel in Jakarta September 16, 2007. The chocolate sculpture, measuring 2.5 metres by 5 metres, was made from 150 kg of chocolate. The model will be displayed in the lobby of the Grand Melia Hotel during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. REUTERS/Supri (INDONESIA)
  9. An Iranian cleric climbs the stairs while visiting the International Koran exhibition at the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in Tehran September 16, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN) An Iranian cleric prays at the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in Tehran September 16, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN) An Iranian woman prays at the Imam Khomeini grand mosque in Tehran September 16, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN)
  10. Space for Hire in Grand Mosque? Badea Abu Al-Naja & Saadia Mohandis MAKKAH, 23 September 2007 — While authorities in Makkah work to ensure visitors to the Grand Mosque are able to pray in ease and comfort, some expatriates are making a business out of the overcrowding inside the massive prayer complex and reserving spaces to sell to worshippers. Crowds peak particularly in the blessed month of Ramadan, especially for Taraweeh prayers at night. People are known to leave their homes early and head to the Grand Mosque to find suitable places to perform their prayers. Recently, expatriates — many of whom overstayers — are known to charge people SR1,000 to reserve space for the entire month. Arab News visited the Grand Mosque and saw a group of expatriates, men and women, covering different areas of the mosque prior to Maghreb and Isha prayers. A few minutes before prayers, the expatriates switch places with Saudis, who have paid reservation fees in prior agreements. Many visitors said such agreements were inappropriate and should be discouraged. In the men’s section, Arab News followed a few expatriates to see how they operate. Arab News asked them to reserve a space in the front row throughout the month of Ramadan. Some were hesitant; however, one African man volunteered. “How many spaces do you want reserved?” he asked. “If you want me to keep space for four people, then the prices differ depending on how many days you want the reservation. I charge SR1,000 to reserve space for the last 10 days of the month and SR1,500 for the entire month,” he said. The situation wasn’t any different in the women’s section. “I’ve been renting out prayer space inside the Grand Mosque for a long period of time and everyone is familiar with the concept now,” said an expatriate woman. “Prices begin at SR500 and reach SR1,200 during the last 10 days of Ramadan,” she added. The situation is the same in Madinah, as crowds begin to increase, especially in the last 10 days of Ramadan. They are especially active in the Al-Rawda — the area known as “a garden from the gardens of paradise”, area, which is between the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) grave and pulpit. Expatriates arrive early to reserve a space for worshippers, as the mosque is usually full one hour before prayers; this is particularly the case inside the Al-Rawda area. Sheikh Ahmed ibn Qasim Al-Ghamdi, president of the Makkah Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, said that renting or reserving places inside the Grand Mosque is against the Shariah. “Being in the front rows is a virtue that must be acquired by dedicated worship and hard work, not by rentals and reservations. This harms other visitors and hampers the spirit of Ramadan, the month of mercy,” said the sheikh.
  11. Fire Kills 10 of Saudi Family Raid Qusti RIYADH, 23 September 2007 — A fire in a residential apartment building in the capital’s Al-Faisaliah district killed ten members of a Saudi family and injured three others yesterday, the Interior Ministry said. The blaze broke out in the morning while the residents were asleep in the house, ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki said. The victims, aged between eight months and 28 years, choked to death while sleeping. Another three people suffered the effects of smoke inhalation and were transferred to a hospital, Turki said. Six of the victims were aged less than 12 years, Turki added. According to a senior official at the Riyadh Civil Defense Department, the fire broke out at approximately 10.30 a.m. and was reported by a bystander who saw heavy smoke coming out of the building. Five Civil Defense units immediately rushed to the scene in addition to two ambulances of the Saudi Red Crescent Society. “Initial investigations show that the fire broke out in the guest room where the furniture caught fire and then spread to other rooms,” Civil Defense spokesman Capt. Abdullah Al-Qafari said. Smoke from burning of furniture stuffing can kill an adult within four minutes, said the spokesman, adding that the investigation into the cause of the fire was continuing. When asked whether the fire was accidental or an act of arson, Al-Qafari said it was “too early to determine.” Al-Qafari stressed the importance of home fire detectors, adding that generally smoke inhalation and suffocation were the main causes of death in fires all over the world. In another incident yesterday, two children died of suffocation and their mother was admitted to a local hospital when a fire broke out in their apartment in Al-Majmaah area, the Civil Defense said. A spokesman said the investigation was ongoing in order to determine the cause of the fire. The ages of the children were not given.
  12. BOOK REVIEW: Should one translate Ghalib? —by Khaled Ahmed Kejariwal says each reader discovers something new in Ghalib. It is equally true that the same reader may discover different meanings in Ghalib at various stages of his own mental growth Ghalib in Translation by OP Kejariwal Publisher: UPSPD Publishers New Delhi 2006 Pp200; Price Rs 395 Available at bookshops in Pakistan Generally speaking, one should leave Ghalib alone. Yes, you should attempt it if you know the idiom in which he wrote and grasp andesha not as fear alone but as thought too. Don’t touch him if you want to subject him to the tyranny of rhyme, unless you are a poet of English of equivalent, if not equal, status. If you still insist, you are bound to pare Ghalib down and make him as ordinary as yourself. Mr Kejariwal is an enthusiast and has been trying to convey the genius of Ghalib for the ordinary reader who can’t understand Ghalib’s diction. He did a hundred couplets in his first attempt and got the Indian External Affairs Ministry to publish the book as a kind of memento. This time, he has done 200 and the result is predictably below par. He began by rhyming and made a terrible mess of it, then abandoned it, but was hounded by two additional handicaps: one innate, born of his incompetence as a reader of Urdu and as a poet in English; the other, his self-imposed obligation to make Ghalib easy on the presumption that the reader will not be able to grasp complex conceits. Kejariwal says each reader discovers something new in Ghalib. It is equally true that the same reader may discover different meanings in Ghalib at various stages of his own mental growth. He selects Ghalib and as always betrays his own sensibility through selection. Was the selection made by first presuming that the reader will be ‘average’ in his sensibility or has it materialised out of Kejariwal’s own limitations as a reader of Urdu poetry? Some of the lines he has chosen he simply doesn’t understand. Ghalib wrote the couplet: Naam ka meray hai jo dukh keh kisi ko na mila tha kaam mein meray hai jo fitna keh barpa na hua tha. Kejraiwal translates: Who could have borne/the sadness and the grief/ which are my destiny/ Why is it/ that it’s only me/ whose no effort/ is accompanied without a crisis/ and disaster. The fact is that Ghalib claims the upheaval/revolution in his lines never happened because of lack of grasp of his readership. It is not that Ghalib never wanted the fitna to happen. He is lamenting the fact that the suffering that he has endured is something which normally happens to the genius who transforms the society, but the transformation that his poetry promised never happened. The translation has the meaning back-to-front. Confronting the famous phrase Ghalib ka hai andaz-e-bayan aur, the translator says: But they say there was that Ghalib who could say/ as nobody could/ and nobody can. There is another couplet where the translator has given a meaning never intended by Ghalib. In fact, Ghalib would spin like a lathe in his grave upon reading this rendering. His couplet was: Partav-e-khur say hai shabnam ko fana ki taleem main bhi hun aik inayat ki nazar honay tak. Translation: The dew does die/ at a glance from the sun/ I too survive only as long/ that I receive/ a glance from her. Ghalib actually wanted to say that he would die upon receiving attention, not that he would live as long as he received it. Ralph Russel did the right thing by translating Ghalib close to the original text. The couplet Nahin kucch subha-o-zunnaar kay phanday mein giraai has been ruined by not creating the metaphor of the trap (phanda) as being without purchase (giraai). The translator has it like this: Is the noose any different/ whether cast by the thread/ that is sacred/ or the rosary of the moulavi? It is in fact/ the faith of the Sheikh and of the Brahmin/ which are/ on test. Linking faith to plural ‘are’ is grammatically wrong. The wafadari of the priests pointed to adherence to their own faiths, not loyalty. Kejariwal accepts the received wisdom that early Ghalib was too difficult because of his excessively Persianised diction. He thinks that Ghalib’s self-correction was an admission of his prolixity. Now that all his lost verse has been recovered by Kali Das Gupta Raza and printed in his Diwan-e-Kamil, published in 1990 by Anjuman-e-Taraqqi-e-Urdu, Karachi, it is also clear that he was reacting to two factors: the assault engineered against him in Calcutta and offence he thought he had given to the increasingly influential Ahle Hadith in Delhi. Strangely, lovers of Ghalib have ignored Diwan-e-Kamil perhaps on the yardstick of “difficult Ghalib”. They may not have read the highly Persianised couplets written by him in 1816-17; but any careful reading of them will disclose the extraordinary new sensibility buried in them. For once, Ghalib was wrong to have dropped these lines in his authorised Diwan, which is now only half of the total versification of the poet. On the other hand, Mir Taqi Mir did us a great favour by not censoring his work, bequeathing some of the profoundest lines in Urdu to us. Kejariwal should have ventured out of the authorised Diwan to get at some of the greatest lines written by Ghalib. One can even say that the lines ignored by Urdu scholars even after they were made available by Kali Das Gupta Raza are superior to any that he considered worth keeping. It is by adding to the Ghalib’s ‘rejected’ MS of Bhopal that Raza put in circulation the new gems from the poet, showing how erroneous his deletions were. Look at this line for universality of thought: Kucch nahin haasil ta’alluq mein beghair az kashmakash Ai khushaa rinday keh murghe-e-gulshan-e-tajreed hai (Nothing is gained in relationships except struggle/ happy is the drunk who is the bird of the orchard of bachelorhood). Look at another line: Nahin raftaar-e-umr-e-tezrau paband-e-matlab-ha (The pace of a fast-slipping life is not tied down to any designated meaning). How about this couplet: Rashk hai aasaesh-e-arbab-e-gaflat par Asad Pech-o-tab-e-dil nasib-e-khatar-e-agah hai (I envy the contentment of the shallow/ the anxiety of the heart is the fate only of the one who has a knowing consciousness). In his introduction, the translator quotes from a letter of Ghalib explaining his racial origin, and gets the sub-tribal designation wrong: Pashang instead of Pecheneg. As explained by Russian scholar Prigarina, Ghalib was an Oghuz from Central Asia, from a ferocious sub-tribe called Pecheneg that had spread from its home around the Caspian Sea to the Balkans and Eastern Europe, threatening the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century AD. Pakistan’s test cricketer Majid Khan, from the Ghuzz tribe, could be the fellow-tribesman of Ghalib. On page 190, the couplet Dil aap ka keh dil mein hai jo kucch so aap ka dil lijiay magar meray armaan nikaal kar could be challenged by many ‘Ghalib-watchers’ as not being Ghalib’s. The Urdu version says kay but the English transcription says kar. *
  13. VIEW: Arrogant blunders —Ahmad Faruqui Bhutto fatuously suggested Pakistan needed two prime ministers and threatened to break the legs of anyone who went to Dhaka. Behind the scenes, the GHQ put Plan B into place, envisioning military action. It spelled the death knell, not just for democracy, but for Jinnah’s Pakistan I discussed the military mind during President Ayub Khan’s period last week. Let us now turn to the succeeding period, by relying upon Brig A R Siddiqi’s recollections, ‘East Pakistan: The Endgame, An Onlooker’s Journal: 1969-71’; Siddiqi served as the president’s press advisor. Siddiqi’s narrative begins when Ayub, fatigued by nationwide protests over his ten year rule, asked the army chief to “fulfil his constitutional duties” and declare martial law. General Yahya Khan, in his first address to the nation on March 25, 1969 said that only the armed forces “can restore sanity and put the country back on the road to progress in a civil and constitutional manner.” Thus unfolded an oxymoronic drama that continues to this day. Seeking to differentiate himself from Ayub, Yahya would later say that even though he wore four hats, the least important was the president’s and the most important was the army chief’s. He emphatically declared that martial law would stay for an interim period. Privately, Siddiqi writes, he told his coterie of generals (including Gul Hassan, Hamid, Pirzada, Umar and Mitha) that it would take fourteen years to put the country “back on the rails”. Yahya’s Legal Framework Order decreed that general elections were to be held and the National Assembly convened with a 120-day mandate to develop a constitution. But, Siddiqi suggests, Yahya made four fatal assumptions: * No party would have a majority * The National Assembly would be unable to meet its 120-day mandate and stand dissolved * New elections would be held * This cycle would continue indefinitely. The landslide victory of the Awami League caught the military off-guard. In February, in connivance with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s PPP, the generals delayed the convening of the National Assembly, triggering large scale protests in East Pakistan. Bhutto fatuously suggested Pakistan needed two prime ministers and threatened to break the legs of anyone who went to Dhaka. Behind the scenes, the GHQ put Plan B into place, envisioning military action. It spelled the death knell, not just for democracy, but for Jinnah’s Pakistan. On March 6, 1971, as events spun out of control, Yahya said that the armed forces were honour-bound to “ensure the integrity, solidarity and security of Pakistan—a duty in which they have never failed.” Operation Searchlight was launched on March 25, 1971, which was also the second anniversary of the second martial law. Mujibur Rehman, the only Awami League leader to be captured, was brought to West Pakistan. By imprisoning him, the generals thought they had routed the enemy. In the months to come, they denied that a civil war was taking place. By this time, writes Siddiqi, “The army had ... gone berserk. Young officers had become trigger-happy.” The army began conducting murderous “sweeps” in which whole villages were targeted. The “whiff of grapeshot” had turned into a fusillade of death. General Niazi did not deny that rapes were being carried out and opined, in a Freudian tone, “You cannot expect a man to live, fight, and die in East Pakistan and go to Jhelum for sex, can you?” In the midst of bedlam, there appeared “a macabre joke”, a government documentary called, “The Great Betrayal”. It was intended to show the evils carried out by the “miscreants”. But the footage of human skulls even irked Yahya’s sensitivities. He asked, “How could you differentiate between the two skulls — Bengalis and non-Bengalis? I am damned if I can tell one from the other.” As the insurgency expanded, black protest flags replaced the national flag everywhere except in the cantonments. A furious general told Siddiqi, “No national army in the world has ever been subjected to such public humiliation”, but never wondered why matters had come to such a sorry pass. In June, Yahya told the nation, “No government worth its name could allow the country to be destroyed by open and armed rebellion against the State.” The army’s onslaught continued to no avail. Finally, in November 1971, Mujib was sentenced to death. A “Crush India” campaign was initiated in West Pakistan, since that was how the army intended to defend the Eastern wing. An effete top brass boasted of taking on India and defeating it. On December 3, Siddiqi was given a coded signal, “The balloon has gone up” i.e. Pakistan Air Force had launched sorties into India. When he asked Air Marshal Rahim to justify the raids, he retorted, “Success is the biggest justification. My birds should be right over Agra by now, knocking the hell out of them.” At GHQ, thinking they had won the war, the generals ordered a round of drinks “in an unbroken chain”. Imagining himself in a bar-room brawl, one gloated, “We will give the enemy a broken nose”. Even a teetotaller colonel who worked with Siddiqi “had a couple of stiff ones and downed them straight”. An army thrust was directed at Indian forces in Ramgarh, from where Delhi was going to be an easy target. It suffered a serious setback. Even Chamb, the prize of the 1965 war, was not taken. The much awaited counter-offensive under General Tikka never took off. It did not take the Chinese military attaché in Islamabad long to conclude that the war had come to an end, “The Indians are holding you on, waiting to get it over with in East Pakistan.” As the denouement loomed, Gul Hassan asked Siddiqi to do his “usual PR stuff”. When the latter said he was at a loss for words, he was scripted, “The army was out-numbered, out-gunned but not out-classed. Cut off from its main base, it did what could be expected from the best of armies”. On December 16, 1971, a terse statement was read on Radio Pakistan: “Under an arrangement between the commanders of India and Pakistan in the eastern theatre, Indian troops have entered Dhaka and fighting has ceased in East Pakistan.” Siddiqi says that the endgame was the inevitable consequence of military mismanagement. There was some poetic justice. Yahya was dismissed and put under house arrest. The Supreme Court ruled that he was a usurper who treated the country like chattel. He developed paralysis and died in August 1979 after a prolonged illness. Hamid outlived Yahya by a number of years but died “unsung and un-mourned”. But Siddiqi fails to note that there was no real justice. The independent commission report that had looked into the debacle recommended that Yahya and eleven generals who had caused the dismemberment of the country be court-martialled, saying it was not enough to retire them. The military suppressed the report for thirty years. One day, it suddenly popped up on “the other side of the hill”. Ahmad Faruqui, an American economist, is the author of “Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan,” Ashgate Publishing, UK
  14. September 22, 2007 Ahmedis in Pakistan being ostracized Islamabad Members of the Ahmedi sect have complained of violence, official harassment and social ostracization in Pakistan's Punjab province at the hands of Tablighi Jamaat and other hardline Islamist bodies. A report carried by Daily Times Saturday claimed nine such cases reported in Rahim Yar Khan, one in Nawabshah, two in Rabwa and one in Jehlum. Two Ahmedis were ostracized in a bicycle market in Rahim Yar Khan because of a Tablighi Jamaat campaign against them. In another incident in the same district, clerics of Sehjah village spread rumors about Ahmedis forcibly taking Muslims to Rabwa and brainwashing them with their "dogma", the report added. The clerics have also demanded dismantling Ahmedi mosques in the area, the report said, adding that the situation in the village had become tense. Extremists in the district also told Ahmedis to remove the name Muhammad from their names or be punished. Clerics also passed an edict to punish Muslims for maintaining contact with Ahmedis, the newspaper reported. In another incident in Rahim Yar Khan, hooligans published the picture of the founder of the Ahmedi sect along with abuses on the back of the print, the report claimed said. "People openly hold conferences in the area abusing Ahmedis," it alleged. If a police officer decided a case in favour of an Ahmedi, he or she was considered an Ahmedi, said the report. "Ahmedis in Rahim Yar Khan have decreased the number of community and religious programmes. They have also decreased the number of mosques." Having their religious headquarters at Kadian, Gurdaspur district in India, the Ahmadi sect was declared non-Muslim by the government of Z.A. Bhutto in the 1970s after a violent campaign. The sect has produced many eminent Pakistanis, among them soldiers and scholars, including first foreign minister Sir Zafarullah Khan and the only Nobel laureate Abdus Salam. Note: This Thread is not to favor Ahmedis
  15. Helmand's helicopters lifeline By Alastair Leithead BBC News, in Afghanistan A Chinook raises dust clouds as it comes in to resupply a base Helicopter crews provide a lifeline to troops fighting the Taleban, raising dust clouds in the desert as they ferry supplies, evacuate the wounded - and come under fire themselves. The small group of British troops holding the position on the hill had an hour's worth of rations left when the Chinook supply helicopter dropped its load of food, water and ammunition close by. They had been on the operation for more than 48 hours and had been fighting the Taleban in the "green zone" - the area of thriving vegetation along the Helmand River. The Taleban fight from among the marijuana fields with plants standing two metres high, from the high-walled, thick mud compounds and from the dense tree lines. Bayonets are fixed and ambush can come any time, but it can be as dangerous for the helicopter crews re-supplying the infantry and flying into battlefields to pick up the injured. We land on sites which are very dusty, so for the last 30 feet you can't see where you are going Stuart Hague "I was mortared last week coming into land," said Flight Lieutenant Stuart Hague, a pilot with 1310 Flight of the Joint Helicopter Force. "It was about 50 to 100m in front of where we were coming into land - enemy fire is a considerable threat at the moment. It's the small arms, the rocket-propelled grenades, which you can't see coming, but that's part of the job now." Tracer fire can be seen at night but during the day helicopter crews often do not even know they are being shot at until they are hit. The twin-rotor RAF Chinook helicopters are the workhorses of the campaign in Helmand, and across southern Afghanistan where the Joint Helicopter Force operates. They are escorted by Army Apache helicopters, which can react to any attack from the ground. The Apaches are also used to support infantry troops - air power is a vital part of the counter-insurgency. British, American and Dutch helicopters work together in the Regional Command South region of Afghanistan, which includes Helmand, and is run by a British headquarters. Planning a flight mission from the British HQ And they do regularly come under fire. "Man pads" - surface to air missiles - have been fired at International Security Assistance Force aircraft over the past few months, but it is the "lucky shot" with a rocket-propelled grenade which has brought down at least one Chinook. It is not just enemy fire which is a danger to the helicopters. "The biggest threat by far is the environmental threat," said Flt Lt Hague. "We have to land usually on unprepared sites which are very dusty, so for the last 30 feet you can't see where you are going. Darkness is another key factor, of course, because we have to fly 24 hours a day." And landing in the desert can be dangerous. As our own helicopter came close to the ground, the whole cabin filled with the fine dust-like sand. Visibility was down to zero. It is often at night when the medical teams are called out to bring in injured soldiers, and sometimes civilians caught up in the fighting. We often go up to the hospital afterwards and talk to the medics about it and get it out of our systems Antony Raymont Crew members say they do not remember ever bringing in as many casualties as they have over the past couple of months - the fighting in Helmand and Uruzgan, where Dutch forces are based, has recently been very intense. Life-saving treatment can be given in the back of a helicopter as it rushes back to the British field hospital at Camp Bastion. Picking up the injured can be traumatic, said Flight Sergeant Antony Raymont, crewman with the Joint Helicopter Force. "We get quite a range of injuries out here from simple things like road accidents - sometimes people who have been injured in bombs or whatever - so it can be quite graphic. But you get on with your job and don't tend to think about it while you are flying. The view from the Chinook "When you come back we all talk about it as a crew and often go up to the hospital afterwards and talk to the medics about it and get it out of our systems." The hours are long and the crews have to watch each other to make sure they do not get over-tired. Flt Lt Hague said the current pace was not sustainable: "We could do with more crews, and the training system is hopefully going to deliver that in the near future. "The helicopters do get tired because they are working in such a harsh environment. The engineers could certainly do with more support because they are working flat out, and we have to monitor their fatigue levels as well as they work such long shifts."
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