Sources revealed that during the past four years the number of arms licenses have increased manifold. During this period, they said, the federal interior ministry issued 14,259 licenses in Balochistan – 7,506 in Quetta, 1,674 in Sibi, 810 in Naseerabad, 729 each in Chagai and Qila Abdullah and 567 in Jafarabad.
“After alleged military operation in Balochistan in 2006 the law and order situation has deteriorated. The incidents of target killing, kidnapping for ransom and other crimes increased manifold, creating a sense of insecurity among the people who started seeking arms licenses for self-protection,” they said.
Official sources told The Nation that more than 41,000 arms licences were issued in 2011 alone across the province. Of these, more than 6000 were issued in the provincial capital Quetta during last year.
They said that Deputy Commissioners (DCs) are authorised to issue arms licenses for different types of weapons, including pistols, rifles and short-guns, after a proper verification. The monthly quota of arms license for Quetta district is 500 while it was 100 each for other districts, they added.
Some sources told that though there is a fixed quota for each district yet sometimes the rules are flouted and the number of licences crosses the actual allocation for a district. Moreover, they said that there was a proper procedure for seeking arms licenses which are generally issued after a thorough verification but ministers, MPAs, tribal leaders and other influential people have got hundreds of licences in violation of the set rules and procedure.
“There are ministers and MPAs who have obtained arms licenses both from Quetta and their native districts,” the sources claimed, adding that there were some influential people who were using multiple weapons on one license.
Also, according to the rules, people from other provinces could not be issued arms licenses but some officers, particularly from army, and their relatives had been issued licenses in large numbers. However, they added that people from other provinces including Punjab who are working in Balochistan were issued arms licenses for their security following the rise in the incidents of target killings.
Sources said that many people had obtained fake arms licenses through agents. They said that if a proper verification was made, thousands of fake licenses would surface. “The number of fake licenses is high in all districts” they added.
A large number of people remain present everyday outside DC office Quetta to seek arms licenses. Sher Ahmed, 45, resident of Faizabad Quetta, told this scribe that the law and order situation has forced him to get arms license for his protection. Officials said the Quetta Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Hashim Ghilzai has restricted the issuance of license and a license is issued after a thorough verification.
Insecure Balochistan armed with licences