Considering the current situation in the country, the last thing Pakistan needs is more guns. Reports reveal that licensed arms dealers have been engaged in the illegal import of weapons of all kinds. There are no more than 520 licensed arms dealers in the entire country. The law puts a cap on the amount of weapons that can be imported from the international market by any commercial dealer. However, some dealers have been “under-invoicing” their imports in order to exceed their monetary quota. If they are violating laws while buying these guns, perhaps it would be a bit too optimistic to believe that they follow the rules when selling them.

The idea behind issuing licenses to arms dealers is that they can be monitored and held accountable if the need arises. But, the fact that they have been successful in illegally importing weapons shows that no such oversight exists. It also brings into question the role of customs officials and other relevant authorities. Police officials are bound by law to inspect dealers and manufacturers every three months to monitor their activities and stocks. Clearly, that hasn’t been happening either. Is it a case of negligence or outright complicity?

Even if one puts aside the loss of revenue incurred by the government due to illegal imports, the implications such activities can have on the safety of citizens cannot be ignored. Any business that involves big bucks and entails life and death consequences for people living in a country rife with corruption must be subjected to special scrutiny. However, the question is whether regulators enjoy the necessary independence, authority and most importantly, the will to carry out their duties? Now that the story is out in the open, the government’s response will make it quite clear where things actually stand.

Moreover, guns coming in from outside the borders isn’t the only issue here. For many years, illegal arms manufacturers and dealers have been openly operating within the country. The massive arms market in Bara is famous around the world for storing and producing a large variety of weapons ranging from pistols to rocket launchers and grenades. No government intervention, no licenses and no accountability. Anyone can walk in and buy their dream killing machine from local gunsmiths who have been at it for decades now. Their skill is such that they can make copies of all sorts of new guns that keep emerging in the international market, and they do it with their bare hands. Not necessarily better than the original thing, but far cheaper. While it is important to clamp down on illegal imports, satisfactory results cannot be achieved without fixing what has gone terribly wrong at home.