In relation to global week of action against gun violence, civil society organizations including Blue Veins, Pukhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN), Chaipechal Transaction and MRCP organized a seminar to advocate collectively for an end to illicit arms trade to control the misuse of small arms and light weapons.
The seminar highlighted that everyday hundreds of lives are lost due to gun violence worldwide. Guns are responsible for about half of all violent deaths, nearly a quarter million each year. For every person killed by a gun, many more are injured maimed, and forced to flee their homes and community. Still many more live under constant threat of gun violence.
There is no denying the fact that Pakistan’s involvement in Afghan War against the former Soviet Union opened a window for the entry of lethal automatic rifle AK-47, the Kalashinkov in the federally administered tribal areas. But the proliferation of illicit arms into the society began in the civilian governments from 1989 and onwards. A policy of issuing licenses and temporary authorizations in the form of permits started in Benazir’s Bhutto first government 1988-90. In her second government 1993-96, deputy commissioners were authorized to give licenses to all citizens of settled districts of the country for keeping more sophisticated automatic small weapons, the AK-74, the Kalkov, 222 and 223 rifles which are equivalent to the American M-16 rifles used in the Vietnam war. Moreover licenses were issued for automatic pistols including, Turkish Stoogar, German Lugar, Austrian Clog and Italian Zigana and Breeta. Consequently, the country is now flooded with guns.
According to a report of a British NGO, the citizens of Pakistan possess 20 million automatic light weapons, out which 7 million are legal and 13 million are illegal. The unauthorized arms are being used in the target killings of innocent civilians, and personnel of police, paramilitary force and other law enforcement agencies. There is dire need for implementing an effective de-weaponisation campaign and comprehensive gun control laws. The recent assassination attempt on the Federal Interior Minister, Ahsan Iqbal in Norwal is an eye-opener to eradicate the well entrenched gun culture.