Editorial : Arms licences - Thursday 21st April 2011

THERE was a time when newspapers would map the journey of a gun to the individual holding it. This type of rudimentary reporting has since gone out of demand. In fact, today the occasional police references to the origins of a grenade thrown here and a bullet fired there are dismissed as remnants of an investigation routine that lags behind the dangerous times we live in. Arms are now a part as well as a way of life.
In this context, the government`s apparent need to use arms licences as an instrument to please its insecure friends is appalling. A Dawn report says that, despite a ban since January 2010, arms licences continue to be issued, providing the proud weapon-holders with a power symbol they cannot do without. Some 7,000 applications for licences sent by the interior ministry are pending with Nadra, and a senior Nadra official has confirmed the receipt of additional individual applications that are recommended by the prime minister, who has already allowed the issuance of 300 arms licences during the period the ban has been in place. The beneficiaries of his favour include retired, senior servicemen and prominent politicians and bureaucrats.
The government is estimated to have issued some 10,000 arms licences since 2008 in a country where legal arms are but a small fraction of a large heap of weapons. The news item in Dawn is bound by formalities to make a distinction between licences issued for non-prohibited and prohibited bores, whereas theoretically the ban is for all licences issued since the beginning of 2010 to be placed in the category of the prohibited. If this were not enough, the report shows the spokesman of a party which had in January filed a (now withdrawn) deweaponisation bill in the Senate defending his right to have a legal weapon — to combat the holders of illegal gadgets of destruction. His party had backed the bill in the Senate with figures of thousands of deaths caused by `illegal weapons` between 2006 and 2009. The government had found the bill rather unnecessary given there were already so many laws to deal with the issue of the spread of weapons in the country. Those who had thought that this official recognition would perhaps lead to an effective invoking of the relevant legal provisions for a fight against weaponisation must be disappointed. The government appears too obsessed with old power symbols and the security of a privileged few to be bothered about the dangers that brandished guns, both legal and illegal, pose to the people at large.

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/04/21/arms-licences.html

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