Deweaponising Sindh

In addition to the loss of life and damage to infrastructure, Pakistan has borne other costs as a result of the poor law and order situation, various military operations and the war on terror that has been raging for the past many years now. The country as a whole, through its long exposure to violence has become more accepting of weaponisation and use of excessive force. What was once unthinkable to many has now become the norm. Many more individuals see carrying weapons as a necessity against the onslaught of criminals that seemingly pervade our larger cities. However, as the number of arms-carrying citizens increases so does the risk that weapons will fall into the hands of criminals and of those who do not have the training to handle something so dangerous with the due care it deserves. This is why the Sindh chief minister’s directive to cancel weapons licences that have not been revalidated for the past three years is a welcome step.

According to the Sindh government’s figures, around 500,000 licences have not been renewed during the past three years despite deadline extensions and reminders. While a majority of licence holders in Karachi have got them renewed, those in other districts of Sindh have failed to do so. The government has previously threatened action against illegal weapon holders but failed to take any concrete steps. It will be interesting to see whether this particular directive yields the results that have eluded previous governments. Given the increasing number of weapons in the country, it is imperative that our government realises the importance of keeping a check on the purchase of arms. Obtaining illegal arms is alarmingly simple at present and the lack of supervisory controls is only making the situation worse. It is hoped that other provincial governments will follow suit and that the practice of extending a deadline when the public fails to show up will not be adopted in this instance. This is a necessary step for reducing casually-enacted violence in our society and there must be no shrinking from responsibility in this regard.

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