Gun control laws evade implementation

Permits for prohibited bore weapons are issued to influential persons by unauthorised arms dealers

Rizwan Asif October 07, 2023
Gun control laws evade implementation


A responsible regulation of arms, through stringent gun control laws, is imperative to upholding public safety in any country; however, the obligation evades the ruling elite in Pakistan.

Despite the Arms Control Policy clearly criminalising the licensing of prohibited bore (PB) weapons to the general public, a significant number of unauthorised arms dealers are circulating lethal weapons like the G-3 rifle, AK-47 Kalashnikov and various other automatic guns to influential political figures, that too with the complicity of the federal government, which illegally issues the licences for these prohibited arms.

Ironically, in the 76-year history of Pakistan, the federal government has never allowed arms dealers to commercially import automatic weapons but has been issuing thousands of PB licences to favoured persons on the basis of political influence.

A politician who obtained a licence for a PB weapon revealed on the condition of anonymity that he was able to get the licence due to his political connections. “I wanted to buy a Kalashnikov, for which I approached an arms dealer and was soon able to get a bogus receipt for the licence,” confessed the politician.

“The popularity of bogus receipts for possessing PB weapons is growing day by day due to the complicity of the government officials,” revealed an arms dealer, on the condition of anonymity, who believed that legal routes should be opened for the purchase and sale of automatic weapons to curb the activities of illegal dealers.

Reportedly, due negligence and weak monitoring on part of the regulatory authorities has allowed bogus arms dealers to openly trade receipts for PB weapons, with each costing more than Rs 50,000 per registration.

According to official sources, a total of 13,063 new PB arms licences have been obtained in the last 3 years alone, taking the total number of PB arms licences in the country to over 100,000, with seven arms dealers across Punjab possessing the permits to buy and sell these weapons.

Sources attribute the increasing demand for possession of PB weapons by politicians and those associated with them, to their lust for power and influence, which compels them to invest in arms which are inaccessible to the common citizen.

“It has become a status symbol among the powerful and wealthy sections, including influential politicians, bureaucrats and Members of Parliament, to either possess a PB weapon or be surrounded by security guards holding a PB weapon,“ accused a government source.

A look back at history however, reveals that the practice is not a novel trend since even during the financial year 2017-18, a sum total of 90,698 PB arms licences were issued, out of which the highest number of licences were issued in Punjab with 36,167 licences, followed by Islamabad with 6,826, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 23,544, Sindh with 11,953, Balochistan with 7,505, and the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with 1,444 licences.

Similarly, the rate of issuance of PB arms licences resumed course in 2018 when a new government took over and started skyrocketing during the past one year after the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) led caretaker government took the reins of power.

Talking to The Express Tribune on the matter, Chaudhry Arshad, a legal expert said, “there are multiple loopholes in our gun control laws due to the negligence of our bureaucracy. If the government is issuing PB arms licences to some personnel despite the rulings of the Arms Control Policy, then it would be better if it simply allowed the commercial import of these automatic weapons.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2023.


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