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Government's 'Arms Control' campaign


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The new measures will deal effectively with the internal security issues, particularly law and order situation

Sep 18 - 24, 2000

The Ministry of Interior is now preparing for a real crack-down on illegal arms and weapons its possession, manufacturing and trade in the country. According to an official source. the government is all set to launch a very aggressive 'Arms Control' regime in the country which will put a complete ban on all prohibited bore weapons along with a stringent authentication process for non-prohibited bore weapons backed by a set of new laws to deal with offenders of government's up-coming 'Arms Control' campaign.

The Task Force on Arms Control will be meeting on September 18 to finalise its report for submission to the Federal Cabinet for approval after which the needed law will be in place to deal with the growing problems of weapon proliferation in the country.

The new measures will deal effectively with the internal security issues, particularly law and order situation, sectarian violence and other criminal activities which are mostly carried out with illegal and lethal weapons. Task Force has completed its work and the Corps Commander Peshawar has pooled in comprehensive proposals to check and control the proliferation of automatic and prohibited bore weapons.

Under the new law all prohibited bore weapons will be banned forthwith even if they are licensed. The government will offer a reasonable amount to buy these weapons from the owners and also provide amnesty to those who hold such weapons illegally. For this purpose a new law would be promulgated soon, under which the offenders would be severely dealth with. Apart from launching a crackdown to recover illegal weapons we will offer good reward to informers who provide information about the illegal weapons, the source said adding that the government will also carry a stringent authentication process for the licensed non-prohibited bore weapons. Again people will be provided with an amnesty scheme to withdraw illegal weapons. The new law will also deal with the unauthorised arms and ammunition dealers. Not only their stocks will be checked but it would also be ascertained that to what kind of people they have been selling arms. He said special measures will also be taken to deal with the un-organised proliferation of arms manufacturers in Dara Adam Khel. A committee of experts visited the area and has submitted its recommendations to the Task Force. They have recommended that POF Wah should be associated with these arms manufacturers to bring them under control and establish a training institute in Dara to upgrade the skills of these gun manufacturers. POF Wah will help them to improve their products which has a huge market abroad. He said it would be ensured that arms manufactured in Dara Adam Khel don't make their way to criminals, gangsters and terrorists.

Proper laws

In response to a question the source said it was virtually impossible to completely deweaponise the country but there can be an effective 'Arms Control' through proper laws. The government is committed to the objective of providing a crime-free society. He said recovery of illegal weapons is a long-drawn and painstaking process which may take time but once effective laws are in place and the implementation start, law and order situation will improve. The government will be setting up implementation cells in all the four provinces.

It is really heartening to learn that the government is engaged in formulating a comprehensive arms control policy covering the manufacture, sale, licensing and use of weapons.

Some of the measures recommended by the Interior Ministry's task force for inclusion in the new policy seem innovative and appropriate. In fact, these measures should have been put in place long ago. The proposal to regularize the Darra cottage industry for gun manufacture under the aegis of the Pakistan Ordnance Factory, Wah Cantt, is perhaps the most appropriate. The idea is to bring all Darra arms makers under a licensing system and also to raise the standards of manufacture by means of induction of modern technology and provision of institutional financing. Next, there are measures which aim at curbing the spread of illegal arms and recovering those already in circulation. This is where scepticism sets in. A number of attempts have been made in the past to flush out and seize illegally held arms but without any notable success.

It is hoped the task force which has made the recommendations under discussion must have gone through the whys and hows of the failure of the past clean-up initiatives before making the new suggestions. It is further hoped that the task force while suggesting the new action plan must have ensured fool proof measures to over come the pitfall which earlier attempt in this regard had to face leading to their failure.

However, the ultimate test of whatever new arms control plan is put in place would lie in the honesty, integrity and efficiency of performance of the police and intelligence agencies bring to bear on the task of enforcement. The drive planned to be launched must be relentless and unsparing, with no leniency towards any section or group, including religious militants many of whom bear illegal arms and, despite, prohibition, often make a public display of these as a form of assertion or to intimate their opponents and critics. Left free to pursue their defiant ways and also to indulge in sectarian violence and terrorism, these so-called holy warriors will make a force of whatever arms control process is initiated now or in the future.