The wrong example


There are too many weapons in civilian hands in Pakistan. We have known this for some time. A survey in 2018 by an international organization monitoring guns and gun control notes that there are at least 43.9 million small arms in civilian hands in Pakistan. This puts Pakistan 4th on the list of countries with the largest ownership of weapons. Unsurprisingly, the US tops this list by a huge margin. The question of whose hands these guns are in is also significant. A declaration of assets by parliamentarians has shown that 99 have declared ownership of weapons, often sophisticated automatic guns. Asif Ali Zardari has stated he owns weapons worth over Rs16 million. Similar declarations have been made by others in parliament with Dr Fehmida Mirza and her husband Zulfiqar Mirza also owning a virtual arsenal. Parliamentarians from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan say such gun ownership is a cultural right and also necessary for security reasons.
The parliamentarians do not set a very good example in a country where the rate of violence needs to be brought down. According to existing statistics, multiple murders using guns occur across the country each day. It is also obvious from the declarations by parliamentarians that the rich and powerful own the larger number of firearms. Since many of these are licensed it is the state which permits them to do so. For the ordinary citizen obtaining a licence is not such an easy matter. Connections and money obviously smooth the way for those with political power. The possession of guns is then also based on a kind of class divide. Those with money are far more powerful than the average citizen who barely has the means to sustain himself and his family.

It is important that we reduce the number of weapons in private hands across our country. Of course, there are many more which have not been declared or put on any record. We have also had multiple instances in which security guards have injured citizens by using firearms and also cases in which the children of the powerful have done the same. Gun violence is a serious problem in the country. The uneven distribution of these arms is a problem. The government must look into the matter and develop a policy to stop the rate of crime and the rate of violence.