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Commendable decision

The Interior Ministry has suspended all automatic and prohibited bore arms licenses throughout the country which will deem to have been cancelled after the deadline of 15th January 2018. The prohibited bore arms can be deposited in the offices of Political Agents in FATA and Deputy Commissioners in the settled districts of the country. The government will pay Rs. 50000 for each deposited weapon of prohibited bore. The arms licenses of prohibited bore can be converted into semi-automatic ones on the verification of District Police Officers
The allegation about the deep rooted Kalashnikov culture is made by the political workers against General Zia Government. No doubt lethal full automatic arms like AK- 47, AK-74, M-16 and rifles of 222 and 223 bore found their way to Pakistan at a very limited scale as a result of Afghan war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in December 1979. But the sale and supply remained confined to the tribal areas and these arms used to be smuggled to settle areas in a very risky manner.
In the first government of Benazir Bhutto flood gates for the acquisition automatic arms of exotic and prohibited bores were opened. In her both governments of 1989-90 and 1993-96, the Deputy Commissioners were authorized to issue licenses forAK-74 and M-16, whereas the licenses for A-47 were issued by the Ministry of Interior. Arms license quota was given to the federal ministers and members of parliament. Hence, possession of lethal automatic arms was regarded as prestige symbol. This heinous practice continued during the second PML (N) government. General Musharraf in his deweaponization drive tried to collect the automatic weapons of prohibited bore but this campaign fizzled out due to unwillingness of his civilian allies sitting in the federal and provincial governments. All Pakistan arms licenses were issued on a very large scale by the Interior Ministry in the PML (Q) government and succeeding PPP government. The present government did issue licenses of prohibited, but in a very limited number.
The suspension of arms licenses and the subsequent cancellation of licenses of automatic and prohibited bores is a very commendable decision. But its across the board implantation is a million dollar question keeping in view the failed precedent of Musharraf era. Does the political elite and their cronies willing to bow to the decision taken by the Interior Ministry on the directives of the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi? Let us hope this time around the de-weaponisation efforts will succeed and government will not buckle down to the pressure of politicians. It is inevitable for the maintenance of law and order, protection of law abiding citizens and peace in the country.

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