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The Worlds Biggest Illegal Arms Market History Essay

The town is basically one street lined up with gun shops, other shops present are tea stalls or butcher shop. One can hardly find any women in the main Bazaar. The roof tops are used as guns testing grounds for the weapons made and the air is usually filled with noise of fire arms.

Workshops are present on the main road which consist of Hundred's of closet sized rooms where young boys and men make copies of the entire world's guns (in working condition) with nothing more than hand tools and a small drill press. Astonishingly the tools used to make guns are highly primitive, yet accurate reproduction of every conceivable sort of weapons is made.

Because it’s a very perfect location to have these gun factories as it is surrounded by mountains, for years these people have been making guns, it’s a time tested area and is pretty safe. That why its only is darra and nowhere else in the frontier.

In Dara Adam Khel, almost three fourths of the people are in the gun trade. Around 1000 guns are made in Dara Adam Khel each day and the number is rising as new and better tools are been introduced to the workers. They had been making guns for more than 120 years. These guns are more than enough for the Pashtoons themselves. Many guns are smuggled in Afghanistan through Russia and other countries. Although heroin trade was shutdown in 1980s but the Pashtoons could not shutdown this guns factory. They are so much so involved in this business that Pashtoons call these guns their ornaments; they exchange guns like people exchange cars, people can bring in old guns and exchange them for new ones. Guns are available at frighteningly low prices. People carry guns as Englishmen carry umbrellas.

However manufacturing of heavy ammunition has been closed downed. Nobody messes with them in regard of trying to shut their guns business; the guns made are tested in the open 2 or 3 feet away from the shop. At any time a Pashtoon comes out of the shop and pumps twenty rounds into the air from a freshly made M-16 rifle. Such is the magic and aurora surrounding this place.

Rules for foreigners who want to visit

Dara Adam Khel is a forbidden area for any kind of foreigners. A permit and an armed escort are required from the Home Secretary of KHAIBER PHAKTOON KHAWA whose offices are in the Civil Secretariat on Police Rod in Peshawar. The permit is free of charge and issued on the very instance it is applied for. Only a few specific places are allowed to be seen. Travelers can only drive through the bazaar without a permit if they do not make any sort of stop, because if they do make a stop they would invite trouble.

In case travelers buy guns, the shopkeepers mostly inform the customs and the police about the purchase. As a result, buyers are caught and the guns are either confiscated or released by giving a bribe.

Arms trade

The Dara Adam Khel arms trade fired up in 1897. The British even being in power at that time were afraid of the capabilities that the people of these areas possessed. They usually turned a blind eye to all the illegal guns being made; in return the Pashtoons gave them a safe passage to travel through the main bazaar without making a stop.

Afridis

This arm trade has won fame for the Adam Khel Afridis who are the major inhabitants of the town. They are the ones who basically control everything

Insurgency in Dara Adam Khel

Mughals and British periods

Durand line is 2600 Kilo Meter long border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, on both sides of the border tribesmen inhabits the tribal areas, history tells us that tribesmen of these areas have always caused problems for the rulers of the time, only one ruler was able to conquer them and make them their loyal subjects, his name was Akbar e Azam (Mughal Emperor) no other ruler of Subcontinent including British colonial rulers was ever became able to defeat them in their backyard.

Dara Adam Khel a tribal area located between Kohat and Peshawar capital of Khaiber Pakhtoon Kha has always been a source of problem for Pakistan since Pakistan was created. Herion business (including other narcotics as well), illegal weapon trade, kidnapping for ransom, murder and many different kinds of crimes have always been related to this area.

Pakistan Government efforts to resolve issues

Darra Adam hel is predominantly under the control of Afridi tribes men, when Pakistan was created Dara Adam Khel was equipped with schools and colleges, Pakistan Governemtn has triesd its best to ensure calmness in this area and to stop the illegal trades by giving the educated people of Dara Adam Khel Government jobs, but to no avail.

Ojhri camp Weapons

Dara Adam Khel’s Afridi tribesmen are highly intelligent and have a great ability to make weapons. After the disaster of Ojhri camp ammunition depot in Islamabad, the remaining weapons and weapon parts were sold to the people of Dara Adam Khel who quite effectively copied the designs in Dara Adam Khel’s weapon manufacturing factories. This was proven when Army was attacked by similar rockets to those present in Ojhri camp, during their ongoing operation in Fata area. This further strengthened the belief in tribesmen ability regarding weapon manufacturing.

Element of foreign militants

Sources say that foreign militants of India or other countries disguise themselves as Taliban and are financing 90 percent of the illegal activities in these areas in order to destabilize Pakistan internally, Islam is a peace loving religion and such activities are not promoted. Taliban Militants are misusing the name of Islam in order to weaken, disintegrate and eventually denuclearize Pakistan.

Role played by Pakistani army

Army had to intervene when the situation was getting out of hand, the militants started to kill travelers on Kohat Peshawar road. They hanged any person who went against them, then threw his dead body at the roadside in an effort to create fear among others, this finally lead to their strong foothold in Dara Adam Khel.

Well trained and well equipped government troops took timely action and responded to the challenge, posed by these militants, in a very strong way. Army members are permanently deployed along the roadside and on strategic hills in Dara Adam Khel in an effort to provide safety to the travelers and the local innocent people between Kohat and Peshawar.

In the ongoing clashes, Taliban militants escape from Dara Adam Khel usually towards Orakzai agency, Khyber agency and Afghanistan .The friendship tunnel of Kohat was targeted at the start by militants but they were soon defeated and flushed out by the security forces, according to sources good number of militants take refuge in Kohat as proven by the rocket attacks from these areas. Militant attack on Kotal check post was also successfully defended by the brave and valiant men and officers of Pakistan army.

Trick played by Taliban Militants

Afridi tribesmen are against the Taliban militants. In the beginning the Taliban entered Dara Adam Khel on the name of Islam and due to their views the militants gained popularity among the people of the area. But once the militants gained control of the area they showed their true colors, they imposed heavy taxes, started spreading fear by killing people and by implementing hard lining rules. They made court decisions in public and gave the punishments in public as well.Tthey destroyed many schools and colleges in the name of Islam, particularly girls schools were targeted. Everyone was forced to pay taxes of about 60000 rs per family

A resident of Tor Chappar (area of Dara Adam Khail) says that his family was displaced during army operation against militants. Now in Tor Chappar empty houses with opened doors are present as all the residents have escaped to areas which are comparatively safer areas like Peshawar. Though locals of Tor Chappar do not like the militants but they cant take up arms against them because if militants block their ways and tracks they would completely loose their contact with the outside world and would eventually die or be killed .So the fear is the main factor they all are quite and take no significant action against the militants.

Views of a Taliban militant spokes person

When a spokes person of Taliban militants was questioned regarding their real intentions, he has said that militants are active to destabilize Pakistan but he was unable to answer the real purpose behind their militancy. Leaders of Jamaat e Islami blame India for financing attacks in tribal areas of Pakistan through its consulates in Afghanistan. A journalist Shakil Ahmed based currently in Australia, in his recent article made a bold claim that around 1500 Indian Army men are present in Afghanistan and are making efforts to encircle Pakistan. Despite many claims no one could come up with a proof of Indian involvement. According to Dawn news report arrested Arab militants from Mehmand Agency were financed by Afghanistan. Many Uzbek militants were also captured during the operation conducted by the security forces in these areas of Fata.

View of an elder in Khaiber Pakhtoon kha.

According to an elder of Khaiber phaktoon kha Baitullah mehsod (Taliban leader) is a friend of Maulana Fazal ur Rehman who is a leader of Jamiat ul Islam. According to him many religious parties of Pakistan are also behind the current insurgency in the areas of Fata and Swat, this is the exact reason why they oppose Army operations in these areas. Its a very complex situation, only a group of people cannot gain such a strength that they could challenge the paksitan military.

Indian and American views on the fata

Foreign Minister of India Mr Krishna offered friendship to Pakistan, only if Pakistan would destroy its training camps of militants. Statement made by him is a clear recognition of potency of Pakistan Army, Media reports show that US president Obama and Hillary Clinton (secretary of state) rely heavily on Pakistan army to control cross border activity.

Pakistan current situation and importance of Pakistani army

Cynics predict another 1971 type debacle for Pakistan, but the fact of the matter is that Pakistan is a nuclear power now, and elected government of PPP lead coalition is in power, Army is committed to its role of, helping elected government to restore peace in FATA and Malakand division and its performance up to date reflects its potential to wipe out the militants from Pakistani soil. International community is quite satisfied regarding the human rights situation in Pakistan, with reappointment of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary and his other deposed colleagues independent judiciary does exist in Pakistan to guard the constitutional rights of people of Pakistan.

Circumstances in 1971 were altogether different in Pakistan when it was dismembered. Now even security of US lead NATO forces is dependent upon Pakistan Armed forces ability to stop cross border activity on Durand line, ‘India’s security will also be in jeopardy if Pakistan existence as buffer zone between Afghanistan and India is jeopardized,’ most of the analysts agree on this point news media reports reflect.

Purpose of Research:

The focal point of this research is to analyze the controversial condition of Dara Adam Khel, one of the globally acknowledged ethnic regions of Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan; we will try to explore its evolution and progress as what has happened to this geographical area that it emerged, gradually with time, as the world’s largest illegitimate arm market. We will spot what types of illicit arms in form of hand grenades, pen pistols and more are produced by this particular largest arm manufacturer of the world and analyze the supply and demand situation as which countries are purchasing and demanding these low-cost illicit weapons and obviously for what reason.

Besides, this study highlights notable facts and figures and the aftermaths too along with the recommendable policies to the government in order to curb the exceeding production of illicit weapons that is almost 40 Million in Pakistan in 2009. The performance of government of Pakistan shall be evaluated as to why the country is rated as one of the greatest per capita rates of gun ownership in the world despite the fact that government has continuously been taking action by implementing the UN program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) but still Darra’s local inhabitants are allured by the illegal production of replicas of imported weapons as their chief source of income.

Problem Definition:

The illicit arm industry located in Dara Adam Khel was flourishing by leaps and bounds with the passage of time, therefore consequential in the expansion of problematic issues created by it. This unlawful production and supply of a vast array of handmade and small industry created weapons as well as imported replicas are responsible for the domestic as well as international criticism. The repercussions our country has been facing consist of intensifying crime rate, murder rate, escalating rate of use of non-genuine currency, drugs, and bombs.

2.0 Literature Review

In Pakistan Arms can be acquired legally or through unlawful means, all a person requires is money or strong reference with someone involved in trading of weapons.

A survey conducted by Small Arms back in 2002 found the illegally held weapons in Pakistan were approximately 18 million in comparison to only 2 million legally held weapons. This comprises of almost nine illegal weapons for each licensed weapon currently owned by the Pakistanis. The report illustrated that, regardless of the official ban on trade of non-licensed weapons, unauthorized arms trade and gunrunning continue to flourish and ammunition remains in open circulation (Burke, 2001).

Darra Adam Khel is a Tribal town adjacent to Peshawar, is stated to be the largest producer and supplier of low-priced guns in the country. According to the latest survey held in 2009 the legal licensed weapons sum around 4 million and illegal weapons have exceeded 40 million in Pakistan. The weapons are considered an ornament for men and are regarded as a part of attire. This is the reason that a household stove may be kept cold, but the barrel of the gun is kept warm.

According to the sources the Arms in Darra Adam Khel are mostly manufactured using small machines or are hand made. A large sum of ammunition produced is distributed to Taliban fighters waging war in Afghanistan against the U.S. Army and coalition forces in North and South Waziristan against the Pakistan Army (Bonner, 2002).

The Federal Administered Tribal Areas Secretariat, the government agency that administers the region, the total number of personnel employed by Darra arms factories are around 10,000 people and they make several million weapons annually.

The owner of Sher Ghulam and Sons Arms Dealer, Malik Muhammad Asif says that business is invigorating despite the enhanced security at Pak-Afghan border and a disarmament campaign by the Afghan government has resulted in price hike. An AK-47 Kalashnikov rifle that used to sell for a $165 in 2004 now sells for as much as $ 700, the cost of explosives have also risen by approximately 20% (FATA, 2007).

Another local arms merchant Haji Ahmed Khan says that “The demand has increased so much that factory employees now work around the clock to fulfill demand”.

The replicas of imported and local weapons have been manufactured in Darra since the early 1900s. Successive Pakistani governments have tried hard to control the arms industry with little success, and tribal areas operate under a semi-autonomous agreement that dates back to British rule. Law Enforcement Agencies and federal judges have limited authority and foreign journalists are prohibited from traveling to this particular region (Schmidle, 2008).

In 2003 a survey by SPADO showed that only in Darra Adam Khel there are around 1,200 gun selling shops. These guns are supplied by almost 1,500 small workshops and more than 50 medium-scale manufacturing units employing over 6,000 gunsmiths.

Pakistan, according to anti-arms activists, has one of the greatest per capita rates of gun ownership in the world. However, there are no official figures rough estimates put the total number of small arms at large in the country at more than 20 million, with about half of them illegal. Half a million illegitimate small arms and light weapons are believed to be owned by people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

But in 2000, state arms manufacturer, Pakistan Ordinance Factories (POF) managed to dent the illegal trade by recruiting some of the skilled artisans from the tribal areas to POF’s main manufacturing unit in Wah - a cluster of 14 factories 40 km north of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad (Haqqani, 2006).

It is estimated that 22 million AK 47's are in public use whereas the country's total population is around 170 million, which accounts 13% of the country’s population.

In Pakistan's tribal culture the use of heavy weaponry is quite common including the use of rocket launchers, short, medium and long range rockets, anti aircraft guns, mortars etc all are made in the vicinity of Darra (Khan, 2006).

State Interior Minister Tasneem Qureshi was summoned by Standing Committee on Interior for issuing approximately 6,000 prohibited-bore licenses within two months.

The committee was informed that 26,000 bogus licenses were issued to strangers with the consent of certain fraudulent officials. It came into notice that "Each senator, member of National Assembly and member of Provincial Assembly can avail 25 non-prohibited bore licenses every year, out of which 75 percent have availed it," That generally indicated the induction of nearly 20,000 fresh weapons in the country.

A newspaper report dealing with illegal arms trade notes, "A pistol that costs around Rs. 20,000 can be acquired on rent with no trouble for Rs. 150 an hour if a person has strong references. Most people get pistols on rent on the alleged reason that they want to use them at weddings; instead those arms are used in roadside snatching incidents. It is more or less like getting a motorbike on rent" (IPDF, 2008).

An interviewer from BBC was told by Haji Munawar Afridi, an arms trader at Darra Adam Khel that "There is nothing we cannot copy". At another point he stated "You bring us a Stinger missile and we will make you an imitation that would be difficult to tell apart from the original." (Aamer Ahmed, 2006)

Some of the influential traders in Darra Adam Khel proudly talk about their ammunition supply to the Islamist fighters engaged in Kashmir.

Currently, there are about 2,000 families who are involved in manufacturing of weaponry in Darra and are also supplying to clients abroad. Rest of the families continues to focus on local markets. Another famous gun trader in Darra asserts that "Punjabis love small arms and Punjab is our major market". Mekarob pistol is the most demanded one because of its low price and compact size (BBC, 2006).

Dilawar Wazir, a political analyst in the tribal area of North Waziristan says militants are the everlasting buyers of the armaments of Darra, and nearly 40 percent of their explosives and light arms used to make bombs are supplied by these factories. However, the trade of manufacturing weapons is well confined, making Darra the South Asian capital for compact unlawful weapons. (Rahmanullah, 2007)

The purchasers of illegal weapons are world over. Insurgent armies, from Asia, Latin America, Africa, have in the past sent their middlemen to acquire weapons from here and still do so.

Moinuddin Haider the Minister of the Interior in previous government, said in an interview in Islamabad. ''We want to close them all down,''. Last year the government also launched a campaign to confiscate all illicit guns and bring to an end the issuance of new licenses (Rahmanullah, 2007).

Gone are the days of the 1980s, the gun industry in Darra was at boom when Islamic fighters, CIA operatives and ordinary Afghans fighting the Soviet invasion of their country just across the border would flock to Darra Adam Khel, and mostly the orders placed for weapons were massive in numbers (Wilkinson, 2005).

Jan Muhammad, a 63-year-old arms dealer who is considered one of the leading experts in pistol manufacturing confessed that their business in late 1980s was so good when the Afghans fought a Holy war against the Soviet aggression. Nevertheless, Muhammad regrets the misfortunes fallen upon his family since then.

Another arms trader at Darra Mr. Hassan states that “Business is bad, very bad”. He pulled a .30 caliber pistol off the shelf, shiny black with no markings. A year ago, he said, he could have sold it for 5,000 rupees. Now, he asks 1,000 rupees for the same pistol. (Bonner, 2002)

Brigadier Mahmood Shah the head of tribal regions in northwestern Pakistan says that “People have been in the weapons business at Darra Adam Khel for decades, but we are taking into account suggestions to regulate it”. He also claimed that weapons at Darra are of substandard, and are more like souvenirs than weapons.

However, the buyers disagree to his statement, Mohammed Raza, 38, a resident living on the suburbs of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province says that “I have a feud going with some people in my village and I have come here to buy a pistol”. Declaring he had no doubt the weapon would prove deadly if he chooses to use it (Khan, R. 2005).

Raza scoffed at the conception the government will ever be able to stop people from purchasing weapons in a constituency where almost every house contains a gun and many men walk the streets with rifles slung over their shoulders.

The reality behind the omnipresence of arms bazaar is that the workmen at Darra Adam Khel are masters of placing together well-designed copies of some of the world's most popular guns. A copy of an Italian-made, pump-action shotgun, which would cost about US$1,300 in the West, can be had for between 3,000 and 8,000 rupees and a replica of the famous AK-47 assault rifle goes for about 10,000 rupees in Darra Adam Khel, 10 times less then the real thing but just as deadly (Riaz, 2005).

Whatever the reality, it is clear that the government will have to come up with a highly innovative and aggressive strategy to bring this lethal trade under control

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