Trigger happy in Karachi

Karachi, the largest and most progressive city of Pakistan, has an exceptional gun problem that needs to be addressed.

Safiyeh A Cheval April 21, 2014
I grew up in a city where guns were unheard of. People moved about freely. Neighbours, family and friends dropped in without informing. Gates were left open and doors unlocked. We were taught never to point a gun at anyone or even threaten anyone. We were repeatedly reminded of guns being a matter of life and death and a grave responsibility.

The only exposure we had to guns was when we went up North during summers. Over there, a man was not a man unless he had a gun hanging on his shoulder as carrying guns signified manhood. Pakistani laws did not influence the Tribal Areas. They had an ancient and unique code which they lived by. If anyone carried a gun, even a 6-year-old, he would be considered to be a fair fight.

The safest was he who wouldn’t pack a gun, for he could not be threatened by anyone. Their code was respected a whole lot more than we respect our laws today. That is perhaps the key to the successful functioning of a society, following a code of conduct, even one that may seem unreal and out-dated.

Speaking of unreal and out-dated, let’s take a look around.

If you think I have mentioned the word ‘gun’ too often, take a look around.

If you think it is the odd, once-in-a-blue-moon ‘terrorist’ who terrorises your city day and night, take a look around.

If you think more guns will keep you safer, for God’s sake, take a look around.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security.”

Today, I live in a city where people have signed off on their liberty, their privacy and their sense of decency for a false sense of security. We place unknown and unfamiliar armed men in close proximity to our homes and families and feel the need to have semi-automatic gun(s) to protect our lives or drive around with an entourage of guard vans, with little regard for other motorists. I am afraid we have forgotten the long-learnt lesson that guns are a matter of life and death and a grave responsibility.

Now, there may be some who think their lives are more important, needing serious and professional protection. It doesn’t matter to them how many innocent bystanders will be severely wounded or die when semi-automatic guns are fired indiscriminately, as long as they do not feel the slightest threat heading their way.

Let’s put that in perspective shall we.

When Cain was going to slay Abel, the two sons of Adam and Eve as per the Book of Genesis, Abel refused to retaliate in any way. He was the third man to be born in the history of mankind, and yet, he didn’t consider his own life to be so important, that he would be willing to take his brother’s for his own protection because of his fear of God.

It is time to rethink the sanity of your security. Keeping more and bigger guns does not make you any safer. It is time to think long and hard about the murder of Hamza Ahmed.

Who was it that placed a lethal weapon in the hands of an irresponsible guard?

Did anyone get a psychological report on the man before giving him a gun?

Did Shoaib’s father consider the consequences of handing his teenage son an armed guard to do his bidding?

Can we all sit around, talking self-righteously about Hamza’s death, when most of us are guilty of the same behaviour?

And what can all of us do to prevent this from ever happening again?

Karachi has a gun problem that needs resolving. An effort of this magnitude requires special treatment. It has to begin with the individual, with you. If every one of us did so, we wouldn’t have a gun problem. It’s that simple, as solutions usually are. Of course, this needs to be done country-wide as well, but as the largest and most progressive city of Pakistan, let’s take the initiative.

Such schemes have already been set in motion. From artists to traders to political parties, we seem to have a consensus – no one likes guns and their consequences.
Safiyeh A Cheval Freelance writer and lifelong learner. A former sub-editor at The News and Dawn. Writing the untold stories of great human beings, because their celebration of life is what inspires and effects change in all of us. Facebook profile: (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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aa | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend last week there was a major search operation by the police in PH 1, apparently the wife of an S.P had been robbed at gun point, The SHO said that this is why they were carrying out the random search. I guess we get the moral of the story. Secondly I will only depend on myself for protection by carrying a licensed handgun and train at any nearby shooting range, you have to discipline yourself in that manner and take responsibility for your actions. If the police fails to protect me what choice do we have left? Give full authority to the Rangers / Army and have a mass ground operation in all areas of the city to smoke out the terrorists / extortionists / criminals, trust me there is no other way left to restore peace in this metropolis kill them before they kill innocent people, direct encounter. Do they think twice before pressing the trigger if you do not handover your valuables? nay!!! they say DON'T BLAME ME BLAME SOCIETY!! Thirdly I absolutely abhor/hate/get mighty pissed off at the countless guards and sirens ringing behind my car because of a self proclaimed VIP whose guards snub others on the street to move to the side while their entourage passes as though their father bought the road, or other people on the street are mere cattle blocking the way. I usually do not move to annoy them back as they annoy us, I HATE THIS THE MOST!!
Safiyeh | 6 years ago | Reply | Recommend If you truly want security to improve in our city, we have to reduce the number of guns. If you are not willing to do it, how do you expect others to? Is it fair to hire armed guards to protect yourself while the rest of the city is at the mercy of criminals? The fact is that security will not work, if only a select few can afford it. Instead of wasting money on security guards, who may or may not end up killing someone on your behalf, why not hire lawyers to push the government, your elected representatives and your servants, to do their job in effectively providing security. The amount of wastage this city sees in terms of security guards and guns and bullets, one should not complain about a failing government. It is the people who are failing the state by not speaking up, nay, demanding that they fulfil their duty to the people. If we are to succeed as a country, we have to think as a nation and not as individuals.
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