By: Syed Ali Raza Abidi
Have you ever been stuck behind a police mobile van on a traffic light, or while driving? If yes, then I am sure you have noticed that the rifles laid flat on the lap of the Police or Rangers officers are pointing at you directly. The guns must be on safety lock while they are not in use as a standard procedure, but the thought of an accidental shot coming at you, forces you to try to move away as quickly as possible from the tail of the vehicle so the barrel is not aiming for you. It bothers me even more, because I have never seen a constable laying the rifle pointing at their officer sitting in the cabin with the driver.
Unfortunately, in our society it is a normal sight, and it really doesn’t bother many, we have grown up with it, but fail to realize that our brave and the valiant men act strong and brave only if they possess a firearm and the will to take a life if the situation arises. We need to understand, that possession of a firearm is an addictive dependency and a serious weakness a man can be associated with. In order to bring this change in our society, Pakistanis have to stop wishing for more sons and guns.
MQM’s Deweaponisation bill is a starter for the nation. Its a bold step, which directly addresses the wrong culture spread all over Pakistan especially after the Soviet-Afghanistan war. It is very likely if the civil society does not follow on, this bill may also find the shelf like the other important reform bills that have been submitted previously. This is an opportunity to rid Pakistan of the menace. The bombing, target killings, assassination, and harassment of citizens has clearly proven now that we are very irresponsible when it comes to guns! Pakistan has to take this bill seriously and work forward to encourage the political parties of the country, the Judiciary, the armed forces and the media to help ensure its legislation and enforcement. The Media can start by checking for validity of licenses of the big shots that carry personal guards in addition to the official escort, to create awareness.
The Deweaponisation Bill 2011 mentions the complete list of items ranging from daggers to rocket launcher, machine guns and hand grenades to ban in the country and also details the mechanics of the step-wise process which should legally take place across Pakistan, evenly and fairly together at the same time. This bill aims to revolutionise Pakistan as a weapon free country (except for the forces) by the next 5 years from the date this bill is passed. I wouldn’t mind if it took 10 years, but I would be happier to see a weapon free Pakistan by the time my children have grown up. Wouldn’t you?
We cannot immediately close down the manufacturing cottage industry which is so proudly known as the world largest illegal weapons market. But the government can at least start by imposing a heavy tax/duty on bullets to begin with, to discourage its usage, thus, reducing reach of many, especially the ones who use it on Chand raat(s), weddings, or on 31st of December. This collection will also help with feeding the treasury.
As a next step, Ministry of Interior may ask assistance with the trade department in order to find market for the used weapons, Pakistanis would have to let go of. The dealers who are importing and retailing can be asked to convert to buyers of weapons from the public at prices set by the Government and collect the firearms for export on behalf of the Ministry of Commerce to countries where they have responsible and mature citizens. This step will allow Pakistan will be earning hefty amounts of foreign exchange, improving the balance of trade.
Once the process above is complete, then the Interior Ministry can cancel all weapon licenses ever issued in Pakistan since its birth to complete the process, with the final announcement for reward of 10 time the price of the weapon if any citizens knows of another who is still in possession of a gun. Only with the involvement of the masses and in exchange for monetary benefits this deweaponisation bill can and will allow Pakistan to be a stronger and a safer country than any other in the world.
I accept, most of what is suggested maybe a dream. But if we really want to do it, nothing is impossible in this day and age. Let’s all be on the same level to start at least, and make fun of it later?