De-weaponisation can help reduce violence

Published: September 29, 2017
Experts argue on whether restoration of peace should precede drive or vice versa. PHOTO: EPA

Experts argue on whether restoration of peace should precede drive or vice versa. PHOTO: EPA

ISLAMABAD: In a country where different kinds of violence are prevailing including domestic and militant amid easy access to weapons, there is a need for de-weaponisation in the country along with attitudinal changes in the society.

These thoughts were shared at a conference hosted by the Centre for Social Justice along with Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), discussing how to implement de-weaponisation policies in the country, in light of the recent statement by Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi. Dr AH Nayyer, a peace activist, said that weapons are generally acquired by four types of people. The first is the state for the obvious reason. The second is private security guards, then individuals, and then militants.

In terms of legitimacy, the state has the most while militants have the least. Yet, the more weapons militants have, betraying inefficiency of the state.  PIPS’ Project Manager Ismail Khan said that one of the debates on the topic which were emerging was whether de-weaponisation should be carried out first and peace restored later, or should it be in the reverse order.

This dilemma, he said, comes from the “demand side” of the weaponisation.  “Without a sense of security, there are often fewer incentives to revoke arms,” he noted.

Prof Nayyer agreed, adding that the presence of militant groups was another dimension of the same demand side.

Security analyst Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood argued that availability of arms in society should be reduced through cracking down on smuggling.

Participants of the conference argued that ideally, only the state should have a monopoly on weapons and provide security to people. Child rights activist Sadia Hussain said that children are most affected by the display of arms.

Amjad Nazeer, a development practitioner, agreed, noting that there was a trend of toting toy guns at different festivities. It was argued that people should be sensitized and convince them away from the culture of violence.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2017.

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