Government Mulling on Ban on Importing Prohibited Weapons

In a move to control the flow of arms, a complete ban on the import of prohibited weapons within the company has been proposed by the government. Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, made the decision in a meeting that was conducted on Monday. An official statement said the government was mulling over placing a complete ban on importing prohibited weaponry. As per the decision, the liberty of importing such weapons would only be granted to security agencies and the Ministry of Defense Production. It was also proposed by the interior minister that entities and individuals who are qualified for such weapons can only obtain them through the Pakistan Ordnance Factory, Wah.

Nisar also said that it was critical to regulate the business of arm dealers. It was further declared by the interior ministry that all manual licenses that haven’t received verification would become invalid after December 31st, 2015. It was also decided in the meeting that no one under the age of 25 would be issued an arms license. The proposal was made four months after a ban on the import of commercial prohibited weapons had been lifted by the government. The entire import arms policy had been changed with the aim of improving documentation and eliminating under-invoicing.

In its previous tenure, the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) had also imposed a ban on importing prohibited weapons in 1997. It was also highlighted by the interior minister that a policy should be implemented on the issuance of arms license in the federal government and provinces. While discussing the eligibility criteria that should be used for issuing arms under the new policy, the interior minister said that the security requirements of the applicants should be kept in view when the license is being granted. He also asserted that media persons and media houses amongst others should be facilitated as they face security threats while pursuing their professional goals.

It was also observed by Mr. Nisar Ali that various laws had been extremely misused in the past with certain privileges that are only granted on a case-to-case basis, after thorough scrutiny and consideration, but had been issued in bulk without the presence of any checks and balances. Therefore, prohibited guns, private security cars and bullet-proof vehicles had not just become a status symbol and fashion, but had also given rise to some serious security problems. The minister said that in light of the new challenges, all existing arms licenses are being regulated by the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA).

Nevertheless, he said that a comprehensive mechanism should be implemented for monitoring and regulating the flow of arms in the country. He said that in the initial steps, all the licenses that had been issued between the periods of 1973 to June 2013 would be computerized via NADRA. The Interior Minister said that the deadline for validating the arms license would end on December 31st, 2015. He said that owners of arms should not expect to be granted any extensions in this case.