Pakistan

End gun culture

Aug 18, 2017
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s proposal to place a ban on automatic weapons in the country was reportedly met with strong opposition, particularly from ministers belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan, during the federal cabinet meeting. A committee has been formed to deliberate this matter in detail and forge consensus on the way forward. Much has been said and written on the need for de-weaponisation and putting an end to gun culture. But those in power seem unaware of how dangerous private ownership of weapons can be.
 
\The argument presented by the ministers who opposed the proposal was that citizens residing in KP and Balochistan need to be armed because of the prevailing security situation in these provinces. This indicates that the public representatives accept the present government’s failure to maintain the law and order situation over the past four years. Public representatives and ministers ought to reassure the public that their security is in safe hands but here the ministers want to arm the public so they can be enabled to do what is supposed to be the government and law enforcement agencies’ job. The fact that most members of the federal cabinet don’t seem to trust their own government’s ability to secure the cities from the outlaws is worrying to say the least.
 
Even banana republics would hesitate to ask their citizens to arrange for their own security. In Pakistan, the police repeatedly advise business concerns to arrange for their own guards. New housing societies are gated with private security. We have seen the privatisation of security across the country. This is a worrying trend and strengthens the argument for private ownership of arms.
 
Yet, we know that unchecked and unregulated private ownership of guns is also one of the factors responsible for an increased crime rate particularly in big cities such as Karachi. Aerial firing during celebrations also claims several lives every year. Merely regulating the weapons, or banning some categories cannot resolve this issue. A drive for complete de-weaponisation of the country is long overdue. We hope that the committee constituted by the Prime Minister will do the right thing and back his proposal to ban automatic weapons. At the same, it is hoped that internal security, especially law and order, will be given due attention. We need to start somewhere. 
 
Daily Times, August 18, 2017

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