PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Home and Tribal Affairs department suspended 157 licences for arms dealers and manufacturers, officials told The Express Tribune on Wednesday. The official notification was sent to businesses on Monday.
The licences had been issued by the previous government as part of around 600 issued to dealerships and manufacturers. Out of the 157 dealers and manufacturers, around 124 units are located in Peshawar and one in Darra Adam Khel in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). The remaining 32 are located elsewhere in K-P.
On September 19, the department had prepared a list of 400 arms manufacturers and dealers in K-P after they failed to register their businesses. Several reminders were given to the units to submit all their business details, including stock and sale reports, allocated quota, and a copy of the no-objection certificate for supplying arms. The department had warned in case they fail to comply, the units would be dealt with in accordance with the K-P Arms Policy 2013.
President Sporting and Hunting Arms Association (SHAA) Peshawar Haroon Khan told The Express Tribune there are at least 10 gunsmiths in each of the arms manufacturing units, meaning the decision would leave 1,500 people jobless.
The legendary gunsmiths of Darra
Like the arms manufacturing cluster in Darra, weapons are hand-manufactured by skilled gunsmiths in Peshawar and the rest of K-P, claimed Khan. However, he added, the home department had made it necessary for the manufacturers to install several advanced machines and fulfil other formalities which are not possible financially.
“The authorities are misguided in thinking arms factories in K-P do not manufacture locally but simply act as middlemen and buy from Darra,” claimed Khan. He admitted some units might be doing so, however, a majority had their own gunsmiths.
“The fact is that Peshawar rivals Darra in arms manufacturing these days. The biggest advantage to Darra units was free electricity – they lost this advantage after the start of prolonged load-shedding. The gunsmiths have been forced to relocate to Peshawar.”
SHAA Peshawar General Secretary Abdul Wakeel stated the association is in favour of cancelling licences of units which are non-operational. But, he argued, suspending operational units was unjust and will only result in unemployment.
After an earlier decision to suspend transport licences, they were no longer able to ship arms to Punjab and Sindh, shared Wakeel. He added the units remain under severe pressure since Punjab and Sindh were the largest markets for them.
“Locals do not buy arms from our units; they prefer Darra weapons. Arms units have to rely on export to other provinces,” he said, demanding the government take notice of the situation and reverse their decisions.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2013.
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