Infamous for harbouring terror organisations and promoting their ‘jihadi’ activities that plot and spell doom across the border, it should come as no surprise that the availability of arms and ammunition to aid banned organisations like LeT and Indian Mujahideen is no big deal.
What does come as a shock for many is that guns are not just easily available, they are available dirt cheap.
In Pakistan’s tribal town of Darra Adamkhel, guns – used or refurbished Kalashnikovs at that – are available at a price cheaper than what a smartphone would cost you. Moreover, they are being sold on an industrial scale.
Located 35 km away from the city of Peshawar, Darra Adamkhel was a hub of lawlessness and insurrection for decades. People could easily get everything, from stolen cars and AK-47s to fake university degrees and smuggled drugs, a Times Of India report said today.
Conditions became worse in the 1980s when the mujahideen began buying weapons there for Afghanistan’s battle against the Soviets.
By 2009, the town had turned into a hub of the Pakistani Taliban, who reinforced their anarchy after brutally killing Polish engineer Piotr Stanczak.
Khitab Gul, a gunsmith in the town, is famous for making replicas of Turkish and Bulgarian-made MP5 submachine guns – the ones that are used by organisations like America’s FBI SWAT teams.
While an original MP5 gun is sold for thousands of dollars, its clone, manufactured by Gul, which comes with a year’s guarantee, is available for just Rs 7,000.
Meanwhile, the replica of a Kalashnikov – the manufacturer of the famous AK-47 and AK-56 – is available for as little as Rs 8,500.
“The workers here are so skilled that they can copy any weapon they are shown,” Gul claims, adding that he has sold 10,000 guns over the past decade and has received “zero complaints”.
In Gul’s workshop, the clones are manufactured from the metal brought from the shipyards of Karachi. Though the trade is illegal and unlicensed, it has been running since decades because of the dominance of militants in the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Though infamous as Pakistan’s biggest arms black market, gunsmiths in the town also say that improved security in the region and authorities cracking down on illegal weaponry have led to a steep downfall in their decades-old business.
“(The) Nawaz Sharif government has established checkpoints everywhere, business is stopped,” The Times of India quoted Khitab Gul, a gunsmith, as saying.
The illicit business in Darra has seen a steep downfall as the military has cracked down on extremism, particularly in the tribal areas.
Every second or third shop now sells groceries and electronics instead of guns.