Deweaponising Karachi

Major political stakeholders must rein in armed wings, lest some other force is constrained to perform this task.


Tariq Mahmud December 04, 2012

While Karachi is in flames, our parliamentarians are trifling over the idea of whether the call for deweaponisation should be across the country or Karachi-centric. The situation in the city seems to be slipping out of hands. The violence is drawing its lifeline from ethnic, sectarian and Taliban-inspired fault lines, coupled with the designs of extortionists and the land mafia. It is puerile to talk of a foreign hand when we have so much which is indigenously driven.

Sectarian violence is not new to Karachi. There is, however, a distinct relocation and up-scaling of such elements and their operatives in the city. The political leadership has agreed on deweaponisation, which is easier said than done. It requires a commitment which is not present and has not gone beyond the declaration of intent.

Karachi is not known as a key arms manufacturing hub. Prohibited and non-prohibited bores permeate the city from other areas. The sea line is controlled by coastguards and the upcountry long road route has umpteen intercepting points throughout its length. The major supply line of firearms can be traced back to the tribal areas. Durra Adam Khel, not very far from the provincial capital Peshawar, is known the world over for its legendary arms bazaar and weapon manufacturing units. Seasoned gunsmiths over the decades have been involved in the business, manufacturing firearms of small, medium and long range calibre, known for high quality. Some of the widely sought after automatic brands like AK47 and 7MM are replicated here with precision and perfection.

Weapons produced in Durra were a helpline to the jihadists against the Soviet Union and Kashmir wars but that supply line has dried up now and these arms are finding place in many parts of the country through known and unknown routes. No amount of raids, hold-ups and recoveries can help tackle the problem unless the main sources of supply are vigilantly monitored with effective control.

It is time to regulate the production and supply of these weapons. This has to be completely in concert with the stakeholders by taking them on board. The tribesmen on balance are an amenable lot, having faith in the consultative process. The federal government, in this regard, should prepare a roadmap and policy framework, seeking professional input from the Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF). The tribesmen in the business should have no feeling of redundancy. They need to be given assurance and guarantee that the government and law-enforcement agencies would be the major buyers of their products. At the moment, the provincial government is spending huge amounts of foreign exchange on the import of even small arms. The POF has the wherewithal to make inventories of activities of manufacturers after duly registering them, providing them with technical knowhow and guaranteeing them a market access.

The provincial governments should simultaneously undertake a campaign for the registration of unregistered arms. Unless we have complete information and data about arms in circulation, the policy of deweaponisation will be a non-starter. Illicit arms-holders should either surrender arms or get them registered. A one-time amnesty will have to be given in this regard. This should be followed by campaigns for recovering leftover arms. According to a conservative estimate, over 50 per cent of weapons in the country are not registered. Pakistan stands amongst the top six countries in the world in terms of private ownership of firearms.

A very heavy responsibility rests on the shoulders of major political stakeholders. They need to rein in their armed wings. In the past, it was just one party which was allegedly singled out in this regard. Now, all key stakeholders and sectarian outfits in the city fall in this category. The political, religious and sectarian outfits have to off-guard their militants, lest some other force is constrained to perform this unavoidable task.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2012.

COMMENTS (14)

Hasan Jawaid | 8 years ago | Reply

It is very disturbing to those of us as well who reside in other countries to hear about killings on the day in and day out basis and more so on the apathy that everyone seems to display from president down to a hawker, God only knows what have we turned into.

What is even more disturbing to see is the blind commitment of party loyalists to their parties and unquestionable submission to their leaders upon whose directives all these senseless killings of innocent people is taking place. Killers are not across from the neighbor, they are from Pakistan but unfortunately political and religious parties are using them to accomplish their goals.

It is unfortunate that our culture has been highly influenced by the Bollywood movies. I witnessed this during my visit to Pakistan in 2006 that almost every other home watched Indian channels/movies while books/magazine reading had seem to nearly disappear. No wonder people in Pakistan, most but not all, have the faintest idea how close Pakistan is to an economic collapse. All due to our honest and loyal leadership.

Scholars, think tanks and academicians here in the west have predicted the demise of Pakistan in or around 2015 based on political and religious differences owning to the abysmal economic conditions which is expected to worsen over the years. They have done and are doing the ugly job of making us fight based on sectarian and party differences while leaders of our political parties are granted visas/immigration and promised safe haven in Saudi Arab, Middle east and in the West to make provocative speeches and keep the fire going. And unfortunately people are so blinded with party affiliations that they fail to see the damage they are doing to themselves. The expression in west "You are doing a good job yourself, you don't need my help" holds perfectly well for all those who are directly or indirectly helping west achieve their goals by trusting their leadership who have all their investments outside the country. Has any party loyalist ever asked its leadership how come loyalist's family members in need of urgent medical treatment can not travel out of the country to get them treated while leaders and their family members have this prerogative and get royal treatment everywhere. Are party workers and their family members any less human beings and have less feelings than a party leader and their family members.

These are the questions every party worker needs to think and ask their leadership. Has anyone thought why despite of so many religious activities in Pakistan situation is actually worsening than getting better, one needs to do some soul searching and understand Quran not just recite it. There is a difference of day and night between 'Quran khawani and Quran fahmi". Has anyone ever pondered where Allah says that it takes away its blessings from the land/place where innocent blood is spilled or he does not change the state of a nation unless it is willing to change and make an honest effort itself.

I just hope it is not too late before we have a rude awakening and find ourselves similar to what happened to then East Pakistan. I am assuming everyone has read Iqbaliat and is familiar with what he said long ago:

‘Taqdeer kay qazi yeh fatwa hai azal say, hai jurmey zaifi key saza margay mafa jaa’t’

I wish everyone do some soul searching; see if you have the resolve of martyrs of Karbala who gave their lives on the basis of principles but never submitted and compromised with dishonest and debauch ruler.

‘Islam kay daa’man mei bus iskay sewah kya hai, ik zarbay yadullahey, ik sijda-e-shabbiri’ – Allama Iqbal

Hasan Jawaid, NJ, USA

safdar | 8 years ago | Reply

@Karachiwalay: deweaponising karachi is immediate and necessary step to avoid ongoing killing trend. Darra doesnt produce all the weapons being used in karachi !!! deweaponising of weapons from whole country is necessary specially from political parties.in case of karachi the issue is that all stakeholders of this big city blame each other, 2nd the problem is the use of weapons for wrong purpose as it is being increased day by day. karachi is backbone of economy, first we must save this important hub , i didnt mean,here to say that dont deweaponise the whole country!!!

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