Illegal arms flowing in from the country’s tribal belt appear to have found a lucrative market in major cities of the Punjab province.
These deadly firearms, which include knockoffs of AK-47s, M-16 rifles, Beretta pistols and Kalashnikovs, are hand-manufactured without safety standards in villages like Darra Adam Khel, and have become increasingly popular in urban centres for their cut-price. Their biggest buyers are said to be petty criminals and youths on a budget.
Unlicensed firearms like such are next to impossible to trace, which makes them the perfect choice for anyone with a devious agenda.
While the law shuns their trade, a significant number of arms dealers in Lahore, licensed to operate by the Home Department, are said to be involved in their trade right under the authority’s nose.
In addition to that, while the in authenticity of these guns is common knowledge in villages where they are produced, it is believed that urban buyers at times are also duped into buying these state-of-the-art replicas for millions of rupees, taking them to be original.
The buying and selling of these firearms has taken wings in the provincial capital in recent times, owing to an ad hoc registration process and poor investigation and prosecution related to cases of illegal arms trade.
The police are often seen as an accomplice to the crime, arresting offenders of the category only to let them out in a few hours or assisting their bail, which has encouraged more and more registered traders to invest in this lucrative business on the side.