A nationwide ban on the issuance of new small arms licences has hit manufacturing units hard, Peshawar’s gunsmiths told The Express Tribune on Tuesday.
While talking to The Express Tribune, Siraj Afridi, the proprietor of City Arms, explained that locals do not purchase arms from Peshawar’s gun shops, as they prefer indigenously-made arms from Darra Adam Khel. The 80 functional small arms manufacturing units operating in Peshawar rely solely on orders from Punjab and Sindh to run their businesses. The recent ban has choked demand, turning away the gun makers’ clientele.
“A ban has been placed on arms licences till the general elections, and this has hit our units hard,” Afridi told The Express Tribune. He said his unit used to produce and sell around 350 handguns on a monthly basis in the past, but production has now dropped to about 50 handguns after the ban.
“We have an average of 20 gunsmiths working in a unit. In the absence of new orders, these people – who work mainly on contract basis – have been rendered jobless,” he added.
Amin Khan, another arms dealer, criticised the ban and argued that it was a myth that licenced arms are used by saboteurs of peace. He said the notion had been concocted and had nothing to do with reality.
“This step, taken by the Election Commission and the Ministry of Interior, is highly symbolic and will have no positive impact on the law and order situation in the country. It will only effectively deprive hundreds of gunsmiths of a living,” he said. He pointed out, acerbically, that terrorists do not use licenced weapons.
There are at least 300 small arms units registered in Peshawar, but only 80 out of that number are functional at the moment. The others are either in the process of being established, or being shut down. As provincial authorities handed out hundreds of new manufacturing licences over the last five years, the mushrooming growth of the small industry has meant lesser profits for older units.
“The rapid growth has resulted in cutthroat competition, which, besides the power crisis, has also pushed manufacturing prices to an all-time high. The common man has limited purchasing power,” Muhammad Suliman, another gun merchant, complained to The Express Tribune. “Now the ban has pushed us to the verge of a collapse,” he added. He demanded that the ban be removed as soon as possible. He urged the government to instead take steps to control the thriving illegal and smuggled arms businesses in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2013.
Like Business on Facebook to stay informed and join in the conversation.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ